Can you believe we’re already deep into week two of 2018? It’s insane. Seriously, where does the time go? I mean, if you think about it for a moment, most of us have already had time to a) do that age-old tradition of setting yourself some new year’s resolutions and b) do that age-old tradition of spectacularly failing to keep your new year’s resolutions. Don’t worry, though. It’s like falling out with your family over a game of Monopoly; we all do it.
But just because you have failed to go twelve months (or, more accurately, twelve days) without getting a takeaway doesn’t mean you should give up on setting yourself some goals. No way. What you should to do instead is focus on a different set of goals, and what could be better than setting yourself some sleep goals (don’t worry, that was rhetorical; the answer is nothing; nothing could be better than boosting your sleep).
The reason why we are trying to push you on to this bandwagon is simple: almost 50% of us Brits complain about getting a rubbish night’s sleep on a regular basis. So, why not make this your new focus? Why not use this as a chance to remedy your takeaway failure, prove resolutions aren’t just made to be broken and – not to be too dramatic – have this be the catalyst to a better life. After all, getting a good night sleep every day of the week should be everyone’s priority.
With this in mind, we have pulled together a list of sleep-based goals you should set yourself today and then uphold for the next 66 days, by which time it will have become habit and you won’t even realise you’re doing it, like breathing, scratching an itch or getting frustrated when you get catfished by a parking space (yeah, we’re looking at you Fiat 500s, making us think there’s a space free at the front). Anyway, here are our top tips:
- Rely On A Routine
As amazing, unique and special each of our bodies are, they also thrive off routines and schedules. They’re sort of like robots made up of organic matter. That is why having a regular sleep routine is absolutely essential to getting a solid forty winks. The trick, however, is to be strict with it. If you’re not, then you’ll find yourself pushing the boundaries like when you were a kid, and a great way to remain strict is to have a bedtime alarm. Mmm hmmm. In the same way you set an alarm to wake you up, you should start setting an alarm that makes you go to bed.
Of course, if you really want this to work, you need to accept your body doesn’t know what weekends are, making them the most basic robots ever. Now, we’re not saying you need to be as strict on a Saturday night as you would on a Monday, or that you have to get up and leave whatever bar you’re in at 8.45pm because your alarm has gone off and you only have 45 minutes to get from the Hidden Rooms to your bed in Huntingdon, but try and stick to this new routine as much as possible.
- No Screens Welcome
Let’s get one thing straight; we’ all do it. We all tell ourselves we’ll have an early-ish night and then get into bed at ten o’clock on the dot. But do we go to sleep? No. We scroll through Instagram looking at #cutecats, our mild cases of OCD enough to convince us to keep procrastinating until the clock on our phone reads 00.00 because that’s symmetrical. Well, aside from the obvious, holding a blue light six inches from your eyes in an otherwise dark room is not exactly the best way to fall into deep and quality sleep, which is why this needs to stop.
Televisions, laptops, tablets, phones; they all emit tons of blue light and this stops your body from producing melatonin; a hormone that controls your sleep cycle and lets you know that you’re sleepy before bed. So, to counter this, try and stop looking at screens at least half an hour before you go upstairs and, if you’re really desperate to break the shackles of screen addiction, make your bedroom a screen-free zone. No ifs or buts.
- Become More Nap-Savvy
A lot of the time, napping gets a bad rep, namely from the dribblers that hate waking up on the sofa with a spit-damp face and those that wake up feeling groggy only to find out they can’t sleep that night and, in that sense, you can understand their issues. However, if you nap right, you’ll find napping is the best thing since crinkle-cut chips. You’ll feel less tired come three in the afternoon, you’ll feel more alert for longer and you’ll find your overall performance in life shoots up.
Of course, nailing a nap is an art form and so there is some etiquette to adhere to, such as knowing when to nap. For example, if you works shifts, you need to time your nap so it bridges the gap between your awkward work times, whereas, if you are a newbie parent, you need to practise shutting your eyes at any available moment, and we mean any available moment. The next thing you need to know is how long you should nap for, in which case the National Sleep Foundation (yup, that’s a thing) says 20-30 minutes is perfect because you’ll wake up feeling alert without any of that horrid groggy feeling.
- Your Pre-Bed Ritual
While closing your laptop and pressing the sleep button on your phone is a great place to start, there is so much more you can do to get in the zone before your bedtime alarm goes off. Yes, we’re talking meditative things. We’re talking about taking some deep breaths, writing a journal, reading that book you threatened to start at the beginning of last summer, listening to some calming classical music, investing in a sound machine that can play crashing waves and forest raindrops simultaneously, and running yourself a Bublé bath (which requires dimmed lights, flickering candles, lots of bubbles and a little bit of the man himself, Mister Michael Bublé).
The reason you should get into this habit isn’t just because being relaxed is the best feeling ever, but because you can actually trick yourself into feeling ready for bed. All it takes is one of these relaxation techniques and your body will start to prepare itself for a night of recuperating as you slip off into a wicked deep sleep. Ahhhhh.
- Comfort Is Super-Crucial
It doesn’t matter how sleepy, relaxed, lethargic or laissez-faire you might be feeling before bed, or how great your bedtime preparation has become, if your bed is anything less than super-duper comfortable. Comfort is the one thing everyone needs to sleep well. It just is. Which is why you need to up your bed game and create a boudoir that’s as impossibly snuggly as possible. That means investing in a mattress that’s right for your sleeping style, pillows that are perfect for your posture and sheets that are more supple than a baby’s skin.
Now, if you aren’t exactly sure what constitutes ‘right for you’, then we recommend you read our sweet dreams series of blogs: what matters in a mattress, picking the perfect pillow and sheet dreams are made of these to help you out a little. Hopefully this will see you get the best night’s sleep you have ever had over and over again.
by William Hunter Howell,