Sleep is something that we all need. It comes naturally to us and it is essential for our overall health and wellbeing. But for something so important, relatively few of us have a good idea of how much of it we should be getting. Now, there’s a whole lot of confusion out there surrounding the subject of exactly how many hours a night sleep we should have and what sleep’s actual purpose is. There are so many different facts and figures borne from so many different studies that it can almost feel as though figures are being plucked from thin air on a whim. At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that we are all unique and all of our bodies have different requirements, so the amount of sleep that best suits you may vary drastically from the amount that leaves someone else feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day ahead. General guidelines recommend eight hours a night for adults. This varies drastically from the fourteen to seventeen hours a newborn requires! But it’s a good place to start. Securing at least eight hours should provide your body with everything it needs. Sleep gives your body the opportunity to shut down its prioritisation of waking actions and dedicate more energy to recuperative work. Your breathing rate will slow, your heart rate will slow, your limbs will relax, and you can begin to recover from aches, pulls, strains, cuts, bruises, and muscle damage. Everything will become stronger and restored. Sleep is also a great opportunity for your mind to create new pathways in your brain, forming new memories and solidifying the events of the day. You can filter out unnecessary information and maintain what’s truly important! Sleep is essential for transferring tit bits from your short term memory to your long term memory. As you can see, this entire process is extremely important. So, how can you ensure that you’re getting a good night’s sleep every night? Here are a few areas to focus on and explore to achieve your recommended eight hours!
While some of us are more sensitive to noise than others, pretty much everyone requires a relatively quiet space to get some shut eye in under normal circumstances. Loud noises can keep us up – whether they might originate from a particularly loud housemate or neighbour, traffic, or the snoring of a loved one. But the good news is that there are generally measures that can reduce the amount of noise that you are exposed to. If someone is being inconsiderate, chances are that they don’t even realise that they’re disturbing you. Simply reach out to them and let them know that they’re disturbing your sleep. They’re likely to change their ways immediately. If someone is being uncooperative, you can generally go through authority figures to ensure they quieten down. If traffic or outside noise is a problem, invest in a pair of noise cancelling earplugs. These may feel a little odd to wear at first, but you’ll soon get used to them. These should block out any noise. If your partner snores, earplugs can work, but you could also look into professional treatments that can open their airways while they sleep and prevent them from snoring to begin with.
We have developed an evolutionary response to wake up when we are exposed to natural light. Traditionally, we would generally spend daylight hours awake and head to bed as soon as the sun set. This made sense – in the past, we weren’t able to do all too much at night. However, nowadays, we generally have easy access to electricity and we can be just as productive at night as we could be in the day. However, our bodies haven’t necessarily caught up and now light can wreak havoc with our sleep-wake cycles. So, if you are going to be active at night and plan to sleep through daylight hours (whether this is a few extra hours in the morning, or if you pull a night shift and need a full eight hours during the day), you need to control light in your sleeping space. The easiest way to do this is to invest in dark curtains or blinds. These will allow you to block out light as and when you please. If you are particularly sensitive to light, check out black out curtains or blinds. These are made from materials that absorb as much light as possible and create as dark a space as possible in your room.
Many of us complain that we cannot sleep, but the source of our restlessness is in our own hands. If you take your smartphone to bed with you and scroll through social media feeds rather than getting your head down and giving yourself the opportunity to nod off, you only have yourself to blame. Not only do smartphones, tablets, and other devices offer immediate distraction, but they also emit a particular kind of blue light that tricks your body into thinking that it’s day time. Your circadian rhythms can become altered, and you are likely to struggle to nod off once you’ve been exposed to them for extended periods of time. So, ban devices from the bedroom. Leave them on do not disturb mode, or if you need to be contactable, or if you use your phone as an alarm, you can set them on loud but out of arms reach.
Trying Out Essential Oils for Sleep
If you haven’t tried out essential oils before, but you are still struggling to sleep, now might be a great time to try out some specialist essential oils for sleep. These can be used in various ways.
Some common types of essential oils that you might want to try out include lavendar, Roman chamomile, sweet orange, sweet marjoram, and vetiver oils. Each has its own benefits, so let’s take a moment to consider some pros that come hand in hand with each.
- Lavender – lavender is one of the flowers most commonly associated with sleepiness. While this oil is extremely versatile, some of its most effective qualities are how it can relax you, calm you, and eliminate nervous tensions.
- Roman Chamomile – there are various different types of chamomile out there. Some common types include Blue chamomile. German chamomile, and Moroccan chamomile. However, the variety that best induces sleep tends to be Roman chamomile. It is fast acting and has calming qualities about it. It is particularly recommended for those who experience difficulty sleeping due to chronic stress, headaches, or nervous disorders.
- Sweet Orange – while we tend to associate the smell of orange with zestiness and energy, sweet orange can help to alleviate stress and bring a more positive outlook. This can help to put worries and fears to rest and pave the way for real rest.
- Sweet Marjoram – chances are that you’re already familiar with some of the more commonly known types of oil above. So, let’s lead onto something a little lesser known – sweet marjoram. Now, sweet marjoram, as opposed to plain or standard marjoram, can have a sedative-like effect on the nervous system. This encourages relaxation in the lead up to sleep. If you are suffering from feelings of loneliness, rejection, or grief that keep you up at night, this might be the perfect oil to suit your needs!
- Vetiver – vetiver isn’t commonly mentioned in lists of essential oils. It is sourced from tall perennial grass that is native to India, so you might not have tried it before. But it is perfect for those actively seeking a good night’s kip. It is said to have a grounding nature, which offers support and stability.
Replace Your Mattress
You should replace your mattress once every eight years. This isn’t a simple marketing ploy formulated by mattress sales people – there’s a good reason behind the piece of advice. Over time, your mattress is bound to wear down. It will beging to offer less and less support. You might start to feel the springs through it. You might find it leans or tilts to one side. You might experience a whole host of age-related problems. By replacing your mattress once every eight years, you ensure that you are always sleeping on a bed that is providing you with the right levels of support and comfort.
Ensuring Your Room Is Well Ventilated
Many of us have our sleep disturbed by poor air quality. If you wake up coughing, struggle to nod off due to a blocked nose, or experience similar problems regularly, you might need to reassess the air quality in your home. Having proper ventilation can ensure that air doesn’t become stagnant and that humid or contaminated air is passed on, while fresh clean air is actively circulated. Consider fitting dehumidifiers, air filtration systems, or merely add a few low-pollen houseplants to your interiors. This should help to drastically improve the air quality in the space you sleep in as little time as possible!
As you can see, sleep is extremely important. It’s essential that you do your utmost to get the right amounts of it! Hopefully, the above information and advice will help you to achieve this!