Richard Tucker, Managing Director of leading mattress brand Leesa, shares his top sleep regime tips to make sure you look as good as you feel. Unlike Sleeping Beauty, this won’t take you a hundred years but just eight simple steps to start getting good quality sleep every night.
Sleep is crucial to our health and wellbeing with the benefits well documented. It restores our energy levels, can sharpen our concentration and can improve our memory, to name just a few. Sleep is also vital when it comes to the health of our skin – and we have all woken up with dry and puffy eyes, inflamed, dehydrated skin and unsightly dark circles when we haven’t had enough of the good stuff.
Why? Well, sleep is when waste from our skin cells is disposed of and our cells repair, renew and regenerate. It is when the stress hormone cortisol is reduced; and too much cortisol can lead to thinning skin and discolouration. Lack of sleep (particularly the REM stage) can also speed up the aging process as cells are unable to thoroughly repair, meaning cell breakdowns accumulate.
In short, good sleep is vital if we want to look good and not just feel good. Here are eight tips to help you get a good night’s sleep.
1. Exercise Moderately
Exercise can improve sleep quantity, quality, mood and general daytime wellness, and is one of the best ‘sleep-medicines’ around. But like all medicines, there is a right and wrong way to use it.
The timing of exercise can make a big difference. Exercise in the morning is unlikely to help you fall asleep at night, and exercise too close to bedtime is likely to cause problems in falling asleep.
Also consider the intensity of the exercise you do – a walk in the park is unlikely to be enough for many people. In one study, sleep was enhanced only after 30 minutes of slightly more vigorous exercise.
Keep your exercise specific to you, but as a rough guide, try taking 20-30 minutes of exercise that is moderate for you, between 4pm and 7pm.
2. Melatonin Meals
Melatonin is also known as the ‘hormone of darkness’ and can help open the gates for sleep in the evening. But rather than taking melatonin supplements, enjoy a few pieces of fruit such as pineapple, banana, oranges or cherries in the evening to increase levels of this natural hormone.
3. Light & Dark
Expose yourself to sunlight in the morning and try to let as much natural light into your home or workspace as possible. Indoor lights do not have the same benefits on your body clock, alertness and wellbeing.
The screens of TV’s, tablets and smart phones are not always conducive to a good night’s sleep. These bright and often blue light sources switch off your brain’s production of melatonin and it will take you longer to fall asleep. Leave electronics outside the bedroom, or turn them off at least an hour before your desired bedtime.
If you can’t bear to be away from your device, then turn it on to night mode to reduce the intensity and therefore impact this light will have on you. Alternatively, try an app such as blue light or flux; they carefully alter the colours emitted by your devices in the evenings to protect that all-important melatonin.
4. Mattress Matters
A good mattress is important to ensure good quality sleep. Leesa mattresses are designed to help you sleep better. Each Leesa mattress features three unique layers of foam, which work together to deliver a mattress with ‘universal adaptive feel’, adapting to your body to provide the perfect support for you. Leesa recommend changing your mattress when it is no longer providing you with comfort. The lifecycle of a mattress will vary from person to person and in short: if your mattress is causing you discomfort, replace it.
Also – when did you last change your mattress? Your ten year old mattress now weighs significantly more than when you bought it after absorbing dead skin, colonies of dust mites (which feed on the dead skin), oil and moisture. If you have an electric blanket, consider putting it on ‘high’ once a month when you are not in bed. It will reduce the humidity in your mattress and this reduces the numbers of bedbugs that can worsen allergies.
5. Cave Cool
The ‘cave’ principle is to keep the bedroom cool, quiet and dark and it holds a lot of truth – try to aim for a bedroom that is thermally neutral so that your body doesn’t have to shiver or sweat to keep warm or cool down. 18.5°c – 20°c is ideal.
6. Sleepy Scents
Studies have shown that both Lavender and Bergamot (the Earl Grey Tea flavour) can promote sleep. These amazing scents actually give off molecules that are absorbed through the nose and can act on the brain! Put a few drops of pure essential oils on some cotton wool in a glass that can be safely kept in the corner of the bedroom. Make sure you can smell the scent before you start settling in for the night – and, relax!
7. Pink Noise
Noise at night is a good thing – we did not evolve to need absolute quiet and earplugs. A constant background noise that we feel is ‘safe’ is great at masking other noises and helps the positive sleep habits we need to build up to associate our bed with sleep. Anything that is calming, predictable and monotonous works.
Consider using an app that can emit Pink Noise, which offers a range of calming sounds to help you drift off. There is research that has cleverly linked the timing of the pink noise to a type of brain wave produced during deep sleep, so it should help you drift off.
8. Winding Down
Bedtime is often when worries come flooding in. Telling yourself to stop thinking about them is not going to work, but there are a few proven methods that are effective.
Use relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation. Start with your toes and tense all the muscles as tightly as you can, then completely relax. Work your way up from your feet to the top of your head.
Practice mindfulness, which is based on the principle that is focusing on the ‘here and now’ (often the ‘in’ and ‘out’ of your breathing). Notice, but do not worry about, the intrusive thoughts that pop in to your mind and draw your attention back to the ‘here and now’.
Richard Tucker is Managing Director of Leesa UK. Leesa mattresses are designed to help you sleep better. Each mattress is made from a combination of three unique layers of foam which work together to deliver a mattress with ‘universal adaptive feel’, adapting to your body to provide the perfect support for you and providing a better night’s sleep.
You can buy your Leesa mattress from www.leesa.co.uk and follow Leesa UK on Twitter @LeesaSleepUK