Throw your phone out the door and bring in this research-approved, better sleep shopping list. This advice is so simple you can do it with your eyes closed
In the digital age of endless screen time and work stress with no off button, sleep is an increasingly scarce commodity. And that’s a problem: sleeping for less than six hours a night can disrupt your metabolism and cause a spike in your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Separate studies show that if you fall into an unhappy rhythm of restless nights and bleary-eyed early mornings, you’re 12% more likely to die before your 65th birthday. It’s clear something needs to be done. Gratifyingly, there are some easy fixes that will allow you to rest easier in the knowledge that you’re several steps closer to achieving the hallowed 8-hours. Good night, indeed.
You may think that the epitome of bedtime luxury is great big, soft pillows. But you’re wrong. Your head sinks through all those feathers and you risk overextending your neck, which disrupts sleep and can lead to long-term pain. Go harder, fall asleep faster.
Just five minutes spent in natural environments can induce better sleep. Bring nature indoors with a selection of houseplants and you can benefit – despite living in the concrete jungle.
The colour of your bedroom can impact the amount of sleep you get, too. In a survey of over 2,000 British homes it was found that the colours blue, yellow, and green helped sleepers get the most hours of sleep with blue averaging 7 hours 52 minutes, yellow at 7 hours 40 minutes, and green at 7 hours 36 minutes.
Increasing body temperature 90 minutes before bed in a warm bath is proven to help you fall asleep more quickly. There’s no evidence that bubbles help, but they can’t hurt.
While you’re in there, might we suggest upgrading your cuppa to chamomile? In one study, 10 out of 12 patients fell into ‘deep sleep’ 30 minutes after drinking this classic, night time tea.
Out the tub, there is an undeniable temptation to whack on the heating in your bedroom, burrow under the duvet and get, well, pretty damn cosy. But being overly hot is sabotaging your sleep. Between 15-20 degrees celsius is the magic number for optimal shut-eye, facilitating your body’s resting drop in temperature.
But don’t worry, you won’t feel cold. Wearing wool pyjamas to bed instead of cotton gives up to 15 minutes’ extra sleep, new research has found. Experts say wool helps keep the body in the “thermal comfort zone” most conducive to restful sleep.
Scientists found that listening to high-frequency white noise (known as ‘pink noise’) improves deep sleep and cognitive health. YouTube has a selection of 9-hour clips to provide the background noise you need all night long.
With your soundtrack set, it’s time to turn on a new scent diffuser. German researchers found the smell of lavender oil increased the quality and duration of sleep, especially among patients with anxiety and insomnia.
Particularly in summer when it is light before 5am, night-time light exposure through thin curtains can result in disturbed sleep. And if you’re worried about waking up the next morning in pitch black, combine blackout blinds with a dawn simulator alarm clock. Researchers saw a faster reduction of sleepiness if people had this gradual increase in light prior to waking up. A Swiss study found that dawn simulation left people feeling and performing better all day.