Today is World Sleep Day and independent sleep expert, Dr Neil Stanley has some helpful suggestions on how best to get a good night’s sleep. He says: “Sleep is vital for good physical, mental and emotional health – poor sleep is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity; lack of motivation and alertness; and mood swings, irritability and depression”.
But according to Dr Stanley, it isn’t the quantity of our rest that is important, it’s the quality: “Everyone’s sleep requirement is different – it’s a myth that we all need eight hours per night. Some people will function well on three hours, while others require 11. To me, a good night’s sleep is one that leaves you feeling refreshed in the morning and more productive throughout the day.”
So how do we achieve a ‘good’ night’s sleep?
There are many elements that make up a good night’s sleep,and remember it won’t be the same for you as for everyone else. You need to find your own routine that helps you go to sleep, stay asleep and wake refreshed.
1. Get a comfy bed
This is so obvious, I hesitate to mention it, but a comfortable bed is essential according to research by The Sleep Council. They claim that a good quality mattress will give you an extra hour’s sleep and Dr Stanley agrees: “A comfortable and supportive bed will give you the best chance of sleeping soundly throughout the night – I sleep on a pocket-sprung Vispring bed. The tension of the springs is suited to my weight to ensure I am properly supported and it is filled with all natural materials to help keep me at a comfortable temperature.”
I would add that at menopuase what is also helpful is either a pad for the mattress or pillow with a cooling gel in it to help reduce the heat of those night sweats and flushes.
2. Create a sleep sanctuary
Your bedroom should be quiet, dark and the correct temperature – around 16-18C is perfect, it’ll feel warmer under your duvet. No matter how hard, you should also remove all electrical and electronic items – even standby lights have an impact on quality of sleep. Finally, the room shouldn’t be too stuffy – try sleeping with the window ajar, but if noise is a problem, just ensure the room is well ventilated.
An alternative that many women find helpful is a few drops of lavender oil or a lavender mist to help relax them at night.
3. Have a tried and tested bedtime routine
A regular routine is what we try and get children to follow so they go off to sleep more easily, but it is just as important for adults too. Start your bedtime routine about an hour before going to sleep in order to allow enough time for both the body and the mind to wind down and so no checking of emails or late night TV viewing.
Don’t go to bed hungry, but avoid drinking too much – particularly alcohol and caffeine – in the evenings.
I would have no problem with this one as exercise should also be avoided for six hours before bed, but some meditation or deep breathing can be effective in helping you relax.
If possible try to establish a ‘bed time’ and a ‘rise time’ rather than an irregular pattern as your body finds it simpler if you stick to a more regular routine.
4. Use bioidentical progesterone to relax you into sleep
Progesterone is well-known as a relaxant and many women find it really helps them to sleep. It can also help get those flushes and sweats under control which can so disrupt and disturb your sleep.
Help can come in many guises when trying to find that elusive good night’s sleep and these articles may give you some more ideas.
For information on Dr Neil Stanley’s ideal bed please visit www.vispring.co.uk