Top 10 Tips for Improving Sleep + SleepPhones Review

Sleep is great for your health, I'd even go as far to say as it's more important than exercise. It allows your cells to repair, heals you from your tough workouts, curbs your appetite, boosts your immune system, refreshes your mind and restores your energy levels. Best of all, it's free! 

Unfortunately with the every day stresses of life, not many of us are getting enough hours of pillow time. I'm sure there are many of us who struggle to drift off and panic further when we see the time on our beside clock and realise we're up for work in just 5 hours... oh wait, now it's 4 hours, 45 minutes!

Here are the top 10 tips for getting more sleep: 

1. Block out light with black out curtains or a sleep mask
Light peeking through blinds or shining through thin curtains can disrupt the sleep hormone, melatonin. Block that street light out or your body may think it's still daytime and wonder why on earth you're in bed.This is especially important if you work on night shifts or late shift work, as the sunshine peeking through can cause you to wake up far earlier than you want to. 

2. Block out sounds with a pair Sleep Phones
Finally there is such a thing as headphones you can wear in bed without earbuds sticking in your ears resulting in pain after you've slept on them, or a bulky headset that prevent you from laying on your side. 

Meet SleepPhones, headphones that have been designed specifically for wearing comfortably in bed. The headphones consist of a soft fleecy headband with two flat square ear pieces and a small Bluetooth connector/powerpack tucked inside which can connect to your smartphone. So simple you'll wonder why they weren't invented by someone sooner!

The wireless SleepPhones are ideal for anyone who likes to fall asleep to soothing sounds or simply wants to block out the sound of snoring with something more restful! You can recharge the headset easily the next morning by taking the Bluetooth connector/powerpack out of the band and plugging it in via micro USB.

You can buy SleepPhones from the SleepPhones website for around £27-£59 depending on whether you choose a wired or wireless set. There's also a choice of colours, including Lavender (pictured), black or grey. 

3. Turn off electronics 1 hour before bed, read a book, magazine or talk instead
Studies are increasingly indicating that the blue light emitted by screens can disrupt sleep in a similar way to daylight. Not only that, but the constant pings and bleeps from our phones can leave us feeling wired when we get into bed. Schedule your iPhone to switch to 'do not disturb' from around 1 hour before you go to bed so that you're not disturbed by notifications - we need to switch off mentally and physically before bed. The only functions you should use your phone for in the bedroom is as an alarm clock or as a source of soothing sounds or music.

Avoid looking at your iPad/Laptop/TV before bed and instead curl up in a warm blanket with a book, or wind down with a warm bath. Save TV watching for outside the bedroom and that way when you head to your bedroom you will associate it with sleep instead.  

4 Have a set routine - even on the weekend!
As hard as it is to go to bed early on a Saturday night when you've met up with friends or finding yourself hooked on the latest Netflix boxset, its important to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time (ideally around 8 hours later). This way your body clock will adapt to a regular cycle and you will find yourself drifting off at similar times and waking up naturally. The upside of waking up early at the weekend is that you can squeeze in a workout or finish off a load of chores before spending the rest of the day relaxing and having fun.  

5. Reduce caffeine consumption
Or at least shift the time you would usually drink it at. Have your coffee and tea in the morning and early afternoon, and swap to water around 4pm otherwise your mind will still be buzzing when you try to drift off. 

6. Eat enough - or you will go to bed feeling hungry
Make sure you eat plenty of fibre, whole fats and protein throughout the day. This way you won't have a rumbling tummy at night and can avoid the urge to tip-toe to the fridge late at night for a sugary high-carb snack to silence the growl. By making your last meal of the day a light one and eating no later than 7pm, you will also avoid being kept awake by indigestion and heart burn. 

7. Spray Lavender Pillow Mist
I'm not really sure if there's any science behind this, it probably has more to do with psychology, but I know that when I spray my lavender pillow mist over the pillows on my bed before I go to sleep, I associate the smell with sleepiness and always have a peacefully deep sleep afterwards. It's worth a try if all else is failing and you're still wide awake.

8. Write your to do list for the next day before you get in bed.
This way you won't lay awake consciously trying to memorise everything you have to do tomorrow. Get it out of your head and onto paper. Keep a pen and a stack of post it notes in your bedside drawer so that if any last minute to do's can be written down, put in the draw and forgotten about until the morning. 

9. Prepare for the next day before you get in bed. 
Get all of your gym kit, work bag, kid's lunches, outfit for the day sorted the night before so that you won't be worrying about it while you're trying to fall asleep. 

10. Track sleep quality with an activity tracker like a Fitbit or a Misfit
This way you will see your progress and have a better idea of how long you were asleep for, how often you wake up in the night and how deep your sleep was. 

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