With a brand new year, comes a set of shiny new resolutions. For some of us, resolution making might involve setting new fitness goals, switching up our diets or challenging ourselves to try some new skills. But what if we told you that prioritizing your sleep could help revolutionise your overall health and wellbeing forever? At Sleep Easy, we’re passionate about helping our community to live their very best lives, by sharing the wondrous powers of sleep.
The importance of a quality night’s sleep is often overlooked, however, decades of studies have highlighted the importance of a good night sleep. Over the past year, we’ve all been through a lot - and our everyday lifestyles have taken a complete 360. Therefore, it could be argued that getting a good quality night’s sleep is more important than ever before as both our minds and bodies require adequate rest to recharge and reset.
However, at Sleep Easy, we realise that improving our sleep quality is a whole lot easier said than done - especially as we navigate our way through the lockdowns, our new ways of working and the Coronavirus pandemic. With that in mind, we’re here to share 5 easy sleep resolutions you can practice in 2021 to help you achieve the quality rest that you deserve.
Limit your technology use before bed.
We know, we know. Netflix binges and social media scrolling can be oh so tempting. But did you know that exposure to blue-light producing technology can be detrimental to your sleep health? It's true, recent research has revealed that the bright, blue light emitted from computer screens, smartphones and tablets can reduce nighttime sleepiness, fragment sleep, and reduce alertness the following morning. This light also decreases our melatonin production and disrupts our natural circadian rhythm - the part of the body’s internal clock which runs in the background to carry out essential functions and processes.
Our circadian rhythm aligns our sleep and wakefulness with day and night to create a stable cycle of restorative rest that enables increased daytime activity. Without this restorative rest, our minds and bodies are not able to fully recharge for the day ahead. To improve your quality of sleep in 2021, try limiting your exposure to blue light producing devices in the evening. Why not switch out this time for some non digital activities like reading, yoga or other mindfulness hobbies to help calm your mind before sleep.
Challenge yourself to avoid that snooze button
We get it, sometimes, there’s no better feeling than being able to hit that snooze button for 5 minutes before a busy day of work. However, did you know that heading back to sleep for those five precious minutes can often make you even more tired in the mornings? Remember the circadian rhythms and sleep cycles we talked about? When you hit that snooze button, your body restarts its sleep cycle, entering into a deeper stage of sleep then five short minutes later, when our alarms sound again, we are jolted out of this sleep - whilst we’re in the middle of our sleep cycle. This causes us to feel tired, groggy and even a little confused or disoriented as we wake.
To avoid this grogginess, it is best to simply wake up upon your first alarm. This might take a little getting used to at first, but we promise it will be worth it in the long run.
If you find yourself struggling with this, try putting your alarm clock or mobile phone on the opposite side of the room from your bed. This will force you to get out of bed to turn off the alarm, and decrease the likelihood of you hitting that snooze button.
Rethink your routine
At Sleep Easy, we love a good lie-in at the weekend as much as the next person. But surprisingly, weekend lie-ins can actually be detrimental to our sleep patterns. By staying up late at the weekends and lying in for an extra few hours, our bodies experience the same impact as they would from jet lag. This is often referred to as “Social jetlag”.
Social jet lag is a measure of how much a person’s sleep is “shifted” forward or backward on the weekends. If you sleep from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. on weeknights (midpoint 3 a.m.) and from 2 a.m. to 10 a.m. on weekends (midpoint 6 a.m.), for example, that’s a three-hour shift. In addition to impacting our sleep routine, a recent sleep study also revealed that each hour of shifted sleep also increases the risk of heart disease by 11%, as well as higher scores on fatigue, sleepiness, and depression screening.
So, whilst you might be tempted to catch up on lost sleep in the morning, hitting that snooze button can severely disrupt your body’s circadian rhythm. However, by setting a regular bedtime and wake time (and sticking to this routine) your body will naturally begin to feel tired at night, and you’ll be more likely to nod off to sleep every day of the week.
Switch up your sleep space
Whilst this may sound trivial at first, we can assure you that sleeping in an organised space can have a huge, positive impact on the quality of our sleep. In fact, studies have shown that those who have a messy and cluttered bedroom have a worse night’s sleep due to increased stress levels – compared to those that keep their room tidy. Whilst sleeping with supportive mattresses and pillows is crucial to helping you sleep, the space in which you sleep in also plays a huge role in the overall quality of your sleep.
For stress-free snoozing, try tidying your bedroom, remove any necessary clutter to create the ultimate zen, sleep haven. This will leave you feeling calm rather than stressed and restless as you head to bed.
Go caffeine free after 3pm
Ahh coffee. Sometimes we wondered how we’d get through our busy work days without it. However, if you love a good brew as much as we do, there’s a good chance that you’ve also experienced that restless, wired feeling as you desperately attempt to nod off. It really is the worst. In fact, research shows that consuming caffeine even 6 hours before bed can disrupt your sleep. So if you're partial to an afternoon cuppa to help perk you up, there’s a good chance that your brew could be affecting the quality of your precious sleep.
The good news? We’ve got a solution for you. Simply start your day with your favourite caffeinated drink, and gradually reduce your intake of caffeine as you make your way through your day, ditching caffeine altogether around 3pm. If you find yourself in need of an afternoon pick me up, why not switch it out for a caffeine-free alternative like a hot chocolate, herbal tea or decaf coffee.
We hope you enjoyed today’s blog post - we can’t wait to hear how you get on with your 2021 sleep resolutions. For more science backed sleep tips and advice, head to our Sleep Easy Blog page.