22nd January 2020
We all do it, right? After a long day, we promise ourselves that we’re going to go to sleep earlier but instead, we end up pressing play on another episode of the latest must-watch series, or scrolling endlessly on social media.
But, there’s a whole host of benefits to an earlier bedtime, from higher energy levels the next day, to a better immune system and a healthier heart.
Plus, burning the midnight oil can actually lead to insomnia, so your quality (as well as your quantity) of sleep could be compromised if you stay awake late.
Here’s our top tips for changing from a night owl to an early bird…
1. Stay away from screens
Your brain needs time to properly relax and unwind after a long day, so leave your laptop at work or stash it in a separate room to ensure you’re not tempted.
Turn off all electronics at least an hour before you go to sleep if you’re struggling to get some shut-eye; regular use of backlit screens (such as phones, computers and tablets) have been scientifically linked with sleep disorders, stress and depressive symptoms.
Try reading a book, spending time with your loved ones or taking a bath instead. Oh, and keep your phone in another room (or at least out of arm’s reach) so you’re not tempted to check it during the night.
2. Put your pyjamas on!
Nothing puts you in a cosy mood more quickly than putting on a comfortable pair of pyjamas.
If you’re struggling to get to sleep earlier, try popping your pyjamas on as soon as you get home to trick your brain into getting ready for bedtime.
Choose natural, breathable fabrics for an even better night’s sleep!
3. Have an earlier dinner
Experts say you shouldn’t be eating a large amount of food less than three hours before you go to sleep, so if you want to bring your bedtime forward, that means eating your dinner earlier, too.
4. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes
Caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes can all interfere with your sleep and impact your energy levels.
Whilst alcohol is a sedative and can help you fall asleep, it affects your sleep patterns and can make you feel more tired in the long run.
Caffeine and cigarettes can have the opposite effect, leaving you feeling ‘wired’ rather than relaxed and ready to rest.
Even if you do manage to get to sleep after your cup of coffee, both caffeine and nicotine affect the quality of your sleep, so experts suggest you avoid caffeine for at least six hours before bed, and nicotine for two.
5. Create a comfortable sleep environment
If your bedroom is a peaceful, cosy sanctuary away from the world it’ll definitely be easier to drift off, so if you’re struggling to sleep then it may be time to do a little decorating!
Anything that isn’t related to sleep should be removed – your bedroom isn’t an office or a cinema so get rid of your computer and TV. Decluttering will make your room more relaxing, too.
If you have noisy neighbours or are kept awake by traffic noises, maybe consider a white noise machine to play some soothing sounds instead.
Adjust the temperature so it’s comfortable for you. It’s generally better to keep the room slightly cooler, and then add some thermal pyjamas or an extra blanket if you tend to get chilly.
Try to block out as much light as possible with blackout blinds or heavy curtains and use lamps for soft lighting before bed rather than the harsh overhead light.
Consider a new mattress and pillows if you find it hard to get comfortable at night. Look for natural fibres to ensure breathability and a good night’s sleep.
6. Set yourself a bedtime
You definitely won’t be able to get any sleep if you’re not in bed… so set yourself a bedtime that’s about half an hour before you’d like to be asleep.
If you’re liable to get sucked into another episode or are tempted to start a new chore instead, set an alarm so you’re reminded of your plan.
Set yourself up for success by following these tips, and you should be snoring away in no time! If not… maybe try counting sheep?