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Tips for a better night’s sleep

“As a doctor I know that sleep is as essential for health as a balanced diet and regular exercise. Without plenty of good-quality sleep every night, our physical wellbeing and our mental health inevitably suffers. But if you’re one of the many who struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep, you’ll know that that’s easier said than done. Take a look at these top sleep tips to find the sleep strategies that work for you.” Dr Ranj, Furniture Village sleep ambassador
Lifestyle Guides
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1. Choose your mattress with care

According to The Sleep Council, high among the top ways to help you sleep is having the right mattress. If you wake up with stiffness or aches, it could be because your mattress has seen better days. In fact, they recommend getting a new mattress every seven years to maintain your health and wellbeing. Need help choosing? Our mattress buying guide is packed with expert advice and helpful tips.

Sleep tip: Everybody’s different, so make sure you try different types of mattress to see what suits you best. Some people prefer pocket sprung mattresses while others find memory foam mattresses more comfortable, for example. Go for the best you can get within your budget.

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2. Eat well and stay hydrated

There is some evidence that certain foods can boost sleep, so top tips to fall asleep should always include advice on nutrition. Malted milk drinks contain a range of sleep-promoting nutrients, vitamins and minerals; eggs and fish are a good source of vitamin B12; tart cherries contain high levels of melatonin; kiwi fruit contains folate and serotonin; and chamomile tea may help you relax before bed time.

Sleep tip: Dehydration can affect the quality and length of sleep. Keep a glass of water by your bed, but don’t drink too much as you may need the loo in the middle of the night!

3. Keep your bedroom dark

Turning the lights down can make you feel sleepy as darkness helps to boost melatonin levels in the body. A dark and quiet bedroom can help you get to sleep quicker, and sleep more soundly. Make sure your ceiling lights are not too bright, and think about layered, softer lighting in your bedroom.

Sleep tip: If you’re disturbed by streetlights or early morning sun, consider getting black out curtains or blinds.

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4. Avoid caffeine and alcohol

All the best sleep tips include this one. Caffeine is a stimulant that, if taken too late in the day, can keep you awake late into the night and prevent you from catching up on much-needed sleep. Although alcohol may help bring on sleep at first, it can also affect the amount of important REM sleep that you get. It’s also a good idea not to raid the fridge too late at night, either.

Sleep tip: Don’t drink coffee in the afternoon and evenings if you’re sensitive to caffeine, or switch to a caffeine-free alternative.

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5. Choose the right bedding and pillows

The right bedding can ease you into slumber. Make sure you have the ideal duvet tog for the time of year: 4.5 in summer, 9 to 10.5 in autumn and spring and 13.5 to 15 in winter. Synthetic pillows should be replaced every six months to a year, and down and feather pillows every two to five years. Try memory foam pillows if you want solid support for your head and neck. If you sleep on your side, a pillow between your legs can minimise strain on the lower back, and a mattress topper can help ease hip pain.

Sleep tip: Fold your pillow in half and place a trainer on top of it. If the pillow doesn’t spring open, it means it’s probably time to replace it.

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6. Turn off your phone

Banishing mobile phones is high on the list of top tips to fall asleep and for a very good reason. Whether you’re scrolling social media late at night or the screen’s light is shining from your bedside cabinet, exposure to the blue light of your device suppresses melatonin. And less melatonin makes it much more difficult for you to fall asleep.

Sleep tip: Switch off your phone, leave it in another room or put it on Do Not Disturb for an hour before bed. Swap technology for a book or gentle music instead.

7. Cut out the clutter

Making sure that your bedroom feels like a sleep sanctuary and not an extension of your living room is one really important way to help you sleep. Even simple steps like reducing the clutter, adding pale colours in the form of bedding and soft furnishings, and introducing soothing aromas like lavender and geranium can create a more relaxing sleep environment. An ottoman bed with hidden storage or sleek wardrobes can help keep things neat and tidy, which can be very calming.

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8. Get enough exercise

Exercise can improve insomnia and sleep apnoea and increases the amount of time we spend in the deep, restorative stages of sleep. It also gives us energy throughout the day and tires us out. So get out your trainers in the morning and you might find your efforts pay off at bedtime. Sleep experts recommend avoiding exercising two hours before bed.

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9. Relax your body and mind

Top tips to fall asleep include a warm bath and writing a to do list to clear your mind of worries. You can also try mindfulness exercises or meditation as they can help banish troublesome thoughts and make it easier to drift off to sleep. As the colour green is very relaxing, you might want to introduce it in your décor or in accessories such as a green rug, wall art showing restful green-hued landscapes or lush house plants.

Sleep tip: Some swear by the 4-7-8 sleep method for relaxation. Breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and then breathe out audibly for eight seconds. This technique can help you drift off within 60 seconds.

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10. Stick to regular bedtimes

As much as possible you should try to go to sleep at the same time every night. Keeping a regular sleep schedule – going to bed and getting up at the same time each day – will help your body set a natural alarm clock and leave you feeling refreshed and energised.

Sleep tip: Early nights pay off. If you need to adjust your sleep cycle, shift it by 30 minutes at a time until you reach your goal bed time.

11. Take lack of sleep seriously

If you’re suffering from persistent insomnia, we recommend that you see a doctor. Keeping a sleep diary prior to your GP visit might reveal a pattern or two. Your insomnia might be part of a wider problem, such as anxiety, low mood or a medical issue, so it’s worth talking to a professional.

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Sleep is fundamental to looking good and feeling fantastic. For most people, seven to nine hours of uninterrupted shut-eye allows us to rest and regenerate, and it can even improve memory, boost immunity and control appetite. We hope our 11 top tips for a better night’s sleep help in your quest.

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