The Festival of Sleep, on 3rd January, was created to encourage people to relax and catch up on some sleep following the festivities of Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Sleep is important as it plays a vital role in our thinking and learning processes. A lack of sleep can hurt these cognitive processes in a number of ways. It impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning and problem solving. It can also contribute towards health problems and has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
But how can we ensure that we get enough sleep? Here are some simple tips which may help:
- 1. Try, as much as possible, to have a regular bedtime as this helps to set your internal body clock.
- 2. Create a restful sleeping environment. Your bedroom should neither be too hot, nor too cold, and as quiet and dark as possible.
- 3. Create a good sleep environment by removing televisions and other technical devices from your bedroom.
- 4. Make sure your bed is comfortable. It's difficult to get deep, restful sleep if it's too soft, too hard, too small or too old.
- 5. Try to relax before going to bed with a warm bath. Adding a few drops of lavender oil to the water may help you sleep better. Spraying your pillow or bedding with a slumber mist can also help you to relax and unwind at bedtime.
- 6. Take more exercise. Regular, moderate exercise such as swimming or walking can help relieve the day’s stresses and strains. But not too close to bedtime as it may keep you awake.
- 7. Avoid caffeine in tea, coffee or cola in the evening. It interferes with falling asleep and prevents deep sleep. Have a hot milky drink or herbal tea instead.
- 8. Too much food or alcohol, especially late at night, can play havoc with sleep patterns. Alcohol may help you fall asleep initially, but will interrupt your sleep later on in the night.
- 9. Try wearing bed socks. According to Swiss researchers, you are more likely to fall asleep quickly if your feet and hands are warm.
- 10. If you can’t sleep, don’t lie there worrying about it. Get up and do something you find relaxing until you feel sleepy again - then go back to bed.