How to sleep better

Sleep is becoming the new national obsession. Ikea’s latest advert is a case in point and is a veritable hymn to the pleasures of sleep. But what if you are having trouble getting enough?

Sleep in


As it’s National Sleep Awareness Week, starting today, there is likely to be a lot of focus on all things zzzz. That includes tips on how to get a good night’s rest, a subject close to many a parent’s heart.

Sleep is also something that is becoming an increasing concern for employers. A report out this week found that sleep management is one of the fastest growing areas of wellbeing for 2017.

The research from Reward & Employee Benefits Association (REBA) in association with Punter Southall Health & Protection said the number of companies including sleep in their wellbeing strategy is set to double from 42% to 88% this year.

This is in part due to employers’ realisation of the impact lack of sleep is having on their bottom line. A report by RAND published last year estimates that it costs the economy around £40 billion a year due to reduced performance and stress.

RAND suggests that the proportion of people sleeping less than the recommended hours of sleep is rising due to lifestyle factors associated with a 24/7 society, such as excessive electronic media use, a lack of physical exercise and stress which can increase people’s alcohol consumption and smoking.

Beate O’Neil, Head of Wellbeing Consulting at Punter Southall Health & Protection says sleep management embraces everything from addressing issues such as workplace stress, long working hours and employee work life balance as well as offering guidance around how to develop good sleep habits.

Here are her tips for how to get a better night’s sleep

    1. Stick to a schedule when you can – go to bed at roughly the same time every day.
    2. Exercise regularly, moderate exercises such as swimming and walking can help relieve daily stresses and stains. Do make sure though that you don’t exercise too close to bedtime.
    3. Don’t have a big meal too close to bedtime and avoid too much alcohol, caffeine and nicotine.  Take a bath and have a cup of warm milk or camomile tea, renowned for its relaxing qualities, just before bed.
    4. Make sure your bed and bedroom is dark and quiet, and isn’t too warm. Ideally it should be kept at a temperature of between 18C and 24C. Leaving a window slightly open can be a good idea, if it’s not too noisy.
    5. Avoid watching TV and looking at mobile phones/tablets in the bedroom, especially just before you want to go to sleep. Remember to put your mobile phone on silent.
    6. Listen to a relaxation CD or do some relaxing exercises such as light yoga stretches.
    7. Writing a ‘to do’ list for the next day can help clear your mind and prevent you mulling over what you need to do tomorrow during the night.
    8. It can be useful to keep a sleep diary as it could uncover lifestyle habits that could be preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep.
    9. Avoid napping during the day, or limit your nap to 10-30 minutes taken in the mid-afternoon.
    10. If you can’t sleep, get up and do something relaxing until you feel tired again such as reading or listening to quiet music.

Of course, if children are the chief cause of your sleep problems, you may need to consult the parenting manuals or hope that it is just a phase they are going through…

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