Five lifestyle changes to make for a restful night's sleep

Image of a woman snuggled up in bed.
There are five easy ways to get a better night's sleep. Photo credit: Getty Images

We all know getting enough sleep is key to health and wellbeing.

Yet, achieving a full eight hours of shut-eye each and every night is often easier said than done.

To help improve sleep quality, senior health and wellbeing physiologist at Nuffield Health, Luke Cousins, has offered up advice on the lifestyle changes to make when you're in desperate need of a decent snooze.

Follow a schedule

While we all love the idea of a sleep-in on the weekend, it can really mess up your sleep cycles on weekdays.

"Try instead going to bed at a set time each night and setting your alarm for the same time each morning. This has the added bonus of giving you extra time to be productive at the weekend," he suggested.

Exercise daily

Daily exercise has a wealth of benefits for the body and mind.

"It's important to remember that the timings of when you work out are equally important to consider because exercise can also cause a spike in adrenaline, which keeps your body in an alert state. For maximum benefit, try to get your exercise about five to six hours before trying to sleep but no later than two hours before bed," the expert noted.

Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol

Rather than making you feel sleepy, such stimulants can actually increase blood pressure and heart rate - keeping you awake.

"A general rule is not to drink caffeine past lunchtime, due to caffeine having a half-life of around four to six hours. This means a quarter of that final caffeinated drink is in your system up to 12 hours later, which can impact your sleep. Cutting out caffeine could in the long run remove the desire for that mid-afternoon pick-me-up cappuccino," said Luke.

Unwind before bed

Taking a warm bath, reading, or meditation before you hit the hay can make it easier to fall asleep.

"Lavender is a naturally soothing scent which can be used to help lull you to sleep too. It's possible to train yourself to associate certain restful activities and smells with sleep, which helps to make them part of your bedtime routine," he recommended.

Ditch devices

Put down your phone, laptop, tablet, and any other electronic handheld devices before bedtime.

"These devices emit blue light, which can be disruptive to sleep by mimicking daylight and stopping the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. This is the hormone that helps prepare us for sleep. So, put your electronic devices down at least an hour before bed and maybe pick up a book instead," added Luke.

Cover Media