Sleeping well can feel like a bit of a superpower. Have you had one of those days after a good night’s sleep when you feel you could tackle anything? Even that never-ending to-do list?
On the flip side, the day after a bad night’s sleep can feel like a totally different beast. The day after a run of sleepless nights even more so…
In today’s busy world, we are asking how can we get more sleep and why is it so important?
Sleep is not an optional extra:
It is an essential part of day to day life and keeping yourself fit and well in the long term. In short, the better you sleep at night, the better you can function during the day.
The research shows that most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night1. Think back to your last week, how many hours do you think you were getting?
The reasons why sleep is so important include2:
- It supports your brain function: A good night’s sleep can help form new pathways needed for learning and the consolidation of memory. It also helps with your decision making during the day and ability to be creative and problem solve.
- It protects your mental health: By getting enough sleep, you can help protect your emotional wellbeing.
- It fights against chronic disease: Sleep deficiency has been linked to a number of long term conditions including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, kidney disease and obesity.
- It keeps you safe: Even after just a few days of bad sleep, your ability to function can be impaired. This can impact on daily activities including driving or completing complex tasks at work.
If you sleep like a log every night , you may be feeling pretty good right now seeing this. However, chances are, many of you reading this blog will be here because your sleep isn’t where you want it to be.
Here’s the good news: we have some tips and tricks you can try out tonight to try and get your sleep back on track.
1. Prioritize sleep
Yes, it sounds simple, but it is one of the best things you can do to help you sleep better.
How often have you chosen to watch just one more episode of your favorite show before going to bed? Or do you find yourself staying awake to send a few more emails for work, even when you are sleepy?
With lots of demands on our time, sleep can slowly slip down the priority list. This is where routine can be so helpful. Having a wind-down routine where you do the same things in the same order every night signals to your brain that you are preparing yourself for rest
Everyone’s bedtime routine will look different so it’s important to do what works for you. Choosing the things which make you feel relaxed such as listening to some calming music or having a hot bath can make it a part of the day to really cherish and look forward to3.
Even better, it takes the decision making part out of your evenings. Know you need to get up at a certain time? Work out what time you need to get to bed to get your 7 to 9 hours in and start your wind down routine an hour before.
One important thing to think about when planning your evening routine is how you use your electronic devices in the evening (including your smartphone!) Screens can emit blue light which can stimulate the brain and prevent melatonin production. This is the opposite of what you want at this time as this is the hormone that helps you sleep4.
2. Go to bed and get up at the same time:
What, no long lazy weekend lie-ins?
This can be a difficult one to stomach but research has shown time and again that going to bed and getting up at the same time, even at the weekend, can really help with maintaining good sleep patterns.
Like with the bedtime routine, consistency with this is key. Being in a pattern where we go to bed and wake up at different times can really throw this off5.
3. Snooze no more!
We all know the temptation… your alarm goes off, your bed is warm, you have a day of work ahead of you, why not just press that snooze button for just a few minutes more in bed…
However, your tendency to press snooze may actually be making you feel less rested rather than more refreshed.
This is because rather than helping with your sleep (by letting you have more of it) it can disrupt it. Did you know that before you wake up, your body has already started producing hormones to make you feel alert? So by snuggling back into a snooze, you are confusing the body which then produces sleep-promoting hormones instead. This can mean you are left feeling tired and groggy after that extra 10 or 20 minutes in bed rather than refreshed and raring to go6.
4. Clock your caffeine:
Have you considered what time of day you have your last caffeine-containing drink? Many of us reach for a coffee or tea in the late afternoon to help power us through the last part of the day. However, this could be impacting our sleep.
This is because caffeine has a half-life of about 4 to 6 hours7. Half-life is the time taken to reduce the amount of a substance in your body by half. This is a pretty long time when you think about it! So your afternoon tea break could be impacting on your nighttime sleeping pattern.
Making sure you avoid caffeine at least six hours before bed, if not more, can be a good place to start.
Did you know that chocolate contains caffeine too?!
When does a bad night’s sleep become a sleeping problem?
Sleep can become a problem for any number of reasons. If you are consistently not sleeping well night after night for weeks on end, this can be called insomnia. Poor sleep can also be a symptom of medical conditions such as depression or OSA (obstructive sleep apnoea) which is a breathing problem that can happen while you sleep.
If you feel that your sleep is an issue, we are here to help. At Babylon, we can talk to you about any of your sleeping issues and work out the best steps forward to help you get on top of your sleep.
Let’s get sleepy!
What’s one thing you can do today to help improve your sleep? Is it switching your afternoon coffee for herbal tea, booking an appointment with a Babylon clinician to speak about your sleep, or turning off that snooze button?
Whatever it is, give it a go, and let’s get you that one step closer to the sleep life of your dreams.
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1. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health. , Reviewed April 2021 Are You Getting Enough Sleep? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/features/getting-enough-sleep.html
2. Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency, NIH, Accessed January 2022, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/sleep-deprivation-and-deficiency#:~:text=Sleep%20plays%20an%20important%20role,pressure%2C%20diabetes%2C%20and%20stroke.
3. Sleeping Problems, NHS, February 2020, https://web.ntw.nhs.uk/selfhelp/leaflets/Sleeping%20Problems.pdf
4. Scenario: Managing short-term insomnia (less than 3 months duration), NICE CKS, Revised March 2021,
5. Sleep Hygiene, The Sleep Charity, Accessed January 2022, https://thesleepcharity.org.uk/information-support/adults/sleep-hygiene/
6. Sleeping Tips, Sleeopio, Accessed January 2022, https://www.sleepio.com/articles/sleep-tips/sleeping-tips/
7. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2018). Spilling the Beans: How Much Caffeine is Too Much?, December 2018