Why preparing your body for the perfect night’s sleep starts the moment you wake up

Category: News

The NHS is clear on the importance of sleep. In the short term, you might be tired, irritable, and unable to focus. Longer-term, you run the risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Too little or poor-quality sleep can decrease your life expectancy.

On average, a UK adult needs around seven to eight hours of good-quality sleep a night but this can vary between individuals so don’t panic if you find you can function well on less.

Many factors can affect how well you sleep, from the changing of the seasons to worries about money, and your morning routine.

Your preparations for a good night’s sleep should start the moment you wake and continue through until evening. Read on to find out how a daily routine can improve your chances of high-quality rest.

In the morning

Use the “Sleep Cycle” app to help you wake

Maintaining a routine is key to helping your body align with your circadian rhythms, so set your alarm for the same time each morning.

The free Sleep Cycle app tracks and analyses your sleep patterns, waking you gently at the optimum time in your cycle. This avoids a jarring awakening from a deep sleep, allowing you to start the day feeling rested and refreshed.

Be aware though, you will need to be flexible. The app will wake you from the lightest part of your sleep cycle, within a 30-minute window of the time you set.

Use the app’s statistics to track your sleep and wake times, as well as when you enjoy your best quality sleep. This should help you manage your alarm to enjoy the most restful night possible.

Get natural sunlight and exercise early

Waking up more refreshed should allow you to start the day with a spring in your step. A lack of Vitamin D in the winter – caused by the lack, and angle, of sunlight – can lead to lethargy and contribute to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Natural light early in your day will help to align your body’s rhythms. Whether you walk or jog, fresh air is great for physical and mental health, so exercise outdoors.

Use a step counter app or an exercise app like Strava to check your steps and the calories burned. Competing with yourself is a fantastic way to improve fitness and make sure you reach your exercise goals each day, whether that’s 10,000 steps or a certain number of miles jogged.

During the day

Maintain a healthy lifestyle

Our lifestyles have a massive influence on the amount and quality of sleep we enjoy. Eat a balanced diet rich in nutrients like calcium and magnesium. Be sure you’re getting enough vitamin A, C, D, and E, and consider supplements if you think you might be lacking in any area.

Whether you are working or retired, keep moving throughout the day and be sure to get exercise and fresh air at lunchtime too.

Use the afternoon to take stock

As the evening approaches allow yourself a moment to take stock. Ticking off items on a to-do list and making a new list for the following day can help you feel a sense of accomplishment while also putting you in control.

This should help you draw a line, allowing you to switch off when the end of the day arrives, knowing that you have tomorrow covered.

In the evening

Have definite evening cut-offs

Relaxing at the end of the day is the best way to prepare your body for sleep.

Switch off from work by turning off all work-related devices and apps and be sure to have an evening routine. Listening to music, reading a book, or having a bath are great ways to relax after a long day.

To stand the best chance of a good night’s sleep you’ll need to adopt certain cut-offs. If you tend to exercise after work, be sure to give yourself enough time to relax so that the endorphins released don’t upset your sleep. One to two hours should be enough.

Make sure you give yourself enough time to eat and digest your meal before bed too.

Avoid alcohol, coffee, and nicotine in the three to four hours before you intend to sleep.

Apps can help you relax and drift off to sleep

There are many meditation and mindfulness apps on the market, all claiming to be able to help you sleep. It can make choosing the right one for you difficult.

While some, like Calm, offer meditation, mindfulness, and celebrity-narrated “sleep stories” to help you drift off, others rely on soundscapes.

Portal, only available from the Apple Store currently, is a great example of the former. It can transport you anywhere.

From the sound of rainfall in the Alps to wind through barley fields and the crackling of a log fire, the app should help you create the perfect environment for sleep. But remember that an app can only go so far.

Light, noise, and temperature are the key components to a good night’s sleep. Ensure that your room is a comfortable temperature and that you regulate light and noise to minimise both as much as possible.