Am I getting enough sleep? Is it the right kind of sleep? How can I get more?
It’s easy to get a little bit obsessed with your sleep. Some people manage on not much at all, but most of us only function properly if we’ve had about seven or eight hours sleep. I never get more than that, sometimes less. But I think that’s ok as long as the quality of sleep is good.
Here are my 10 tips for a great night’s sleep
Walking. On active days I always notice the difference in my quality of sleep. Hours before you’re even thinking about bed you should be thinking about getting some simple exercise. And the best way to achieve that is to take a walk. A brisk 20 minute walk is perfect. Walk to school, work or the shops. Get off the bus or the tube a stop earlier. Walking is great for you physically, but also mentally – fresh air clears the mind and offers a fresh perspective on life. Tired legs and a clear mind make for a much better night’s sleep than a day spent sitting indoors.
Digital detox. You probably know this already, but it’s a great idea to cut down your social media before going to bed. In an ideal world, you’d probably not look at your phone beyond 9pm. I do like to have a last look before I settle into bed though. Ideally, turn your notifications to silent so they don’t ping away all night.
A cup of tea. It has to be the right kind though. There’s no caffeine after 7pm in my house. Instead, I prefer to drink decaffeinated tea with milk. It’s a soothing end to the day. If you’re having trouble sleeping try valerian tea – it really does work.
A bath. Having an evening bath is great way to relax. I always find that it draws a really nice line between the busy, working day and a relaxing evening ahead. To maximise the benefits, use a relaxing lavender bath essence.
A good mattress and a lovely pillow. These are things you shouldn’t stint on. Always try and get the best you can afford – you won’t regret it. I personally prefer a pocket-sprung mattress such as these. It gives great support – perfect if you have a sensitive back like me. The pillow I sleep on has to be goose feather, which is soft and gentle.
A good book. I never, ever, go to sleep without reading a few chapters of my book in bed first. Like the bath, it helps me unwind. Going straight to lights out leaves my thoughts reeling. A book takes me off into a different world and gradually eases me into sleep. Unless it’s really exiting, in which case the opposite is true!
Bed linen that makes you feel happy. While I think you need to invest in the best mattress you can afford, I don’t feel the same about bed linen. My selections tend to be inexpensive cotton sets in pretty feminine prints that make me happy. I change the designs according to the season and getting into a pretty, flowery bed at night always makes me feel happy – especially when the rest of my house is colonised by small boys.
Fresh air. We always sleep with our window open. In winter, it’s just a little crack – in summer it’s thrown open. If it’s shut the room gets too hot and stuffy – it just feels a bit unhealthy, somehow.
Keep a notebook by your bed. If you’re struggling to get to sleep try switching the light back on and writing your thoughts down in a notebook. Don’t worry about sentences or lists, just write down whatever spills out of your mind. If it’s important, keep it (many great ideas are born late at night). If it’s not, then screw it up and throw it away. Then try to go to sleep again, your mind should feel clearer.
No pets. Everyone has a different opinion on this, but in my experience pets do not aid a good night’s sleep (no matter how cute they are). Too much fidgeting, not enough space – it’s not a great idea. When our cats first arrived they were keen to sleep on our bed. As a consequence, my sleep was awful – it felt like I had a newborn baby. I’m happy to say they’ve now learnt to sleep elsewhere!
What are you top tips for a great night’s sleep?
This blog post was written in partnership with Fishpools, but all photos and ideas are my own.