HOW TO GET A GREAT NIGHT’S SLEEP
Sleeping in a darkened room has long been known to help with a good night’s sleep.
What hasn’t always been appreciated is the reason why!
According to the new Good-Night Guide from The Sleep Council, keeping the bedroom as dark as possible is important because it encourages production of melatonin – a hormone that helps to regulate the body’s circadian rhythm and promotes restful sleep.
It is produced in the evening to help us sleep and even low amounts of ambient light (such as that given off by radio alarm clocks, mobile phones and laptops) will suppress production of melatonin.
“People should, however, avoid buying melatonin supplements from the internet,” says health writer Yinka Thomas, author of the new guide which is based on her book, ‘Get a Good Night’s Sleep – 7 Practical Steps’.
“Taking supplements, which are only available on prescription in the UK, may disrupt the body’s natural melatonin production and potentially suppress its ability to produce this important hormone, ultimately making sleep problems worse.”
“Getting a good night’s sleep can be dependent on a whole range of factors – from diet and exercise to the importance of a good bed to a good night’s sleep,” says Jessica Alexander of The Sleep Council. The Good-Night Guide covers all seven practical steps featured in Yinka’s book, offering advice on the bedroom itself, lifestyle, how to deal with stress and worry, diet, exercise, relaxation and other therapies and the effects of hormonal balance.
Apart from worries, another enemy of sleep that stems from 21st century lifestyles is non-stop, ever present technology. From smart phones to laptops, TVs, radios and games consoles, the amount of gadgetry making its way into British bedrooms has had a significant effect on our sleeping habits.
Said Yinka: “From the moment we wake up and check our smart phones life is non-stop. It can be difficult to switch off and wind down, so it’s small wonder that many of us have trouble sleeping.”
So, while bedrooms are best kept clutter-free, the bed itself is of critical importance to quality sleep. The foundation of good sleep is a comfortable bed and the right mattress can make the difference between a restorative night’s sleep and poor quality sleep that results in tiredness and fatigue.
Said Jessica: “If you sleep better in a hotel or other bed away from home, or are waking up with aches and pains which wear off as the day progresses, it may be time to change your bed.”
Research shows that sleeping on an uncomfortable bed could rob you of up to an hour’s sleep – yet the deterioration may be so gradual and invisible that many people fail to make the connection between an uncomfortable bed and poor sleep. The Sleep Council advises thinking about replacing your bed after about seven years.
The Good-Night Guide is available, free of charge, as a hard copy by calling The Sleep Council’s freephone on 0800 0187923 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. A downloadable version is also available through the website, www.sleepcouncil.org.uk.
Yinka’s book, ‘Get A Good Night’s Sleep – 7 Practical Steps’, is also available to download from The Sleep Council website, as is an iPhone/iPad app, SleepWell, featuring a selection of relaxing soundtracks and a sleep quality measuring tool.
For more information on how to get your bedroom ‘sleep ready’ visit www.perfectsleepenvironment.org.uk
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