Sleep well, work better

Written by    Last updated: September 5, 2007

A good night’s sleep is essential in order to function to our best capacity. Not being able to sleep can affect health, work and relationships. Find out some useful tips to sleep better…

sleep well work better

The psychological causes of insomnia can be anything from anxiety or over excitement to boredom or depression. The physical causes are generally not enough exercise, over indulgence in food or drink, daytime naps or the sleep environment not being conducive to getting relaxed.

Some dos

  • Try to keep regular hours by going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time every night.
  • Take some exercise in the afternoon or evening, but not too close to bedtime or it may keep you awake.
  • Develop a night‐time routine, such as taking a stroll or walking the dog, locking up the house and reading in bed.
  • Take up yoga or learn basic relaxation exercises.
  • Once you turn off the light, try to relax by reciting poetry to yourself or recalling something calming.
  • Make sure that your mattress is both firm and comfortable, being not too hard, too soft, too small or too old.
  • Ban the television from the bedroom and see your sleep improve.
  • Try listening to soft calming music before sleeping
  • Open bedroom windows each day to ensure that your room is adequately ventilated as a stuffy room can cause disturbed sleep.
  • Use bedding that is appropriate to the room’s temperature, being neither too hot nor too cold.
  • Take a soothing, warm (not hot) bath last thing in the day.
  • Lavender is known to have relaxing qualities, so add some oil to your bath or use it in the bedroom.
  • Drinking a small cup of warm milk shortly before retiring can have a soothing effect.
  • If you wake up early because of the morning light coming through the curtains, invest in decent blackout lining.
  • When decorating the bedroom choose from a palette of relaxing colours, such as blues, greens, whites and silvers.
  • Accessorise your bedroom with pictures that reflect peaceful landscapes or nature.
  • Bedside lamps with soft lighting create a relaxed atmosphere to prepare for sleep.

Some don’ts

  • Taking stimulants such as coffee, tea, or tobacco late in the evening.
  • Smoking in the bedroom causes the smell to linger on clothing and furnishing, affecting sleep.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol ‐ it may help you fall asleep initially, but can interrupt sleep later on in the night.
  • Eating rich or heavy foods shortly before going to bed as it causes indigestion, thus keeping you awake.
  • Taking extra fluids just before bedtime can mean extra trips to the loo during the night.
  • Watching a horror film, or tackling work problems late in the evening gets the mind into an excited rather than a relaxed state.
  • Putting on too many or too few blankets on the bed will make it difficult to get comfortable.
  • Worrying about not sleeping only makes matters worse. Instead of just lying down, get up and do something you find relaxing until you feel sleepy again – then go back to bed.

Finding a suitable mattress

A good mattress can be costly, but it will prevent back problems, as well as ensuring a good night’s sleep. Here is a quick guide to different mattress types to help you choose the one that suits you best:

  • Open sprung: The most common type, it has linked coil springs. The more springs a mattress has, the better support it will give.
  • Pocket sprung: This type has springs that are individually housed in fabric pockets and each coil acts independently, giving more support.
  • Continuous springing: Here the springs are knitted together to form a continuous piece of wire.
  • Sprung-edge: A sprung upholstered base is mounted on top of a wooden frame. The springs work with the ones on your mattress to give a high level of support
  • Latex mattress: These are made from aerated rubber, making them hardwearing, offering good support and are ideal if you are allergic to mattress fillings.
  • Zip-and-link systems: Here two different mattresses are linked together, which makes it ideal for couples where each one wants a different type of mattress.

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