Sleep is one of life’s key pillars to staying happy and healthy, so why do so many of us get poor kip?
A recent survey from YouGov found that most Brits (77%) get less than eight hours of sleep per night, while one in 10 (13%) have fewer than six.
With this in mind, many Brits are looking to get more sleep each night – but instead of seeing this as a ‘goal’ to work towards, Sammy Margo, Sleep Expert at Dreams, says it should be seen as a way of life.
"A good night’s sleep can improve so much in various aspects of our lives, and taking gradual steps throughout the year to ensure you’re getting good quality sleep will allow this to feel like less of a chore," she adds.
The trick to getting a better night’s sleep? Enhancing your overall sleep quality. Margo has explained exactly how to do so in the five steps below.
Create a relaxing bedtime ritual
A bedtime ritual is the name for anything you do in the half an hour to an hour before going to bed.
"Establish a peaceful ritual that helps you unwind before bed such as drinking a warm glass of milk, reading a book, brushing your teeth, or even doing your skin care routine can really help to reduce anxiety and prep your body and mind ahead of getting some shut eye," Margo suggests. "Dedicate time in your busy day to embrace this important practice."
Get out of bed when you can’t sleep
If you find yourself waking in the middle of the night unable to get back to sleep no matter how hard you try, Margo suggests leaving your bed or bedroom completely.
"The more you stay awake in bed, the more likely it is that your brain reads this as ‘I don’t need to sleep when I’m in bed’," she explains.
"This is also known as the 20-minute rule, which essentially means if you haven’t fallen asleep within 20 minutes you should leave the sleep zone, as the best way to break this cycle is by realigning the bed-sleep association. Keep your lights dim and try going back to bed again when you feel tired."
Listen to the sound of bacon frying
"The link between sound and sleep is not a new concept, but do you know the benefits that come from listening to the sound of bacon frying before bed? Simply listening to a recording of a couple of rashers sizzling in the pan may help you doze off at night," Margo explains.
She adds that ASMR’s (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) have proven to be effective in triggering relaxation and tingling sensations, which both encourage a restful sleep due to the repetitive sounds and positive feelings.
"If you’ve given the sound of bacon frying a try and it didn’t quite help, you could also try and listen to people whispering, or crisps crunching, as people have different preferred frequencies," she says.
Hum like a bee for a serotonin boost
Margo suggests implementing yoga or meditation into your nighttime routine as the focus on breathwork can help to enhance your sleep quality.
"An easy beginner tip that most people can follow is humming like a bee [during meditation]," she explains. "First you should set the tone in your room so turn the lights off, lie down comfortably on your back and make a bumblebee sound for 10 minutes. Just inhale and hum on the exhale. Doing this can calm the mind and can get rid of negative emotions as it stimulates the feel-good brain chemical serotonin."
Snack on cheese before bed
Yes, you read that right. Cheese naturally low in fat like cottage cheese, mozzarella, of feta contains high levels of the amino acid tryptophan, which aids sleep.
"A little bite or two before bed can be a good thing," Margo says. "But you should avoid high-fat cheeses late at night, as the fat can disrupt your rest. Alternatively, chocolate and banana also both contain amino acid tryptophan so you could give them a try too."
Sleep: Read more
How much sleep you need at different ages, from childhood to the later years (Yahoo Life UK, 7-min read)
Tips for a better night’s sleep as bad rest linked to memory loss (Yahoo Life UK, 8-min read)
The five signs you're not getting enough sleep (Yahoo Life UK, 6-min read)
Watch: Gen Z most likely to not finish nighttime routine before bed