Winter sleep report, the Sleep Council


continued over

clean up your sleep hygiene routine? Or,

are the hefty demands of everyday life,

including money worries and ticking off

everything on your to-do lists affecting

your sleep?

Whatever the cause, if you've found

yourself slipping into bad sleeping habits

that have left you overtired and irritable,

make sleep one of your New Year's

Resolutions. We're quick to commit to

healthy eating and exercise after the

festive season blow-out, but rarely think

about the benefits to our health when

we improve our sleep hygiene routine -

resulting in better quality, or more sleep.

So, along with your other resolutions -

stick 'sleep' at the top of your list! After

all, if you're not getting enough sleep, it's

going to impact on your efforts to get fit

and eat healthily in the new year.

There are lots of hints and tips out

there, but different approaches suit

different people (see 'OR YOU COULD…',

below). For starters, try the following…

In the daytime:

• Get up at roughly the same time each

day - including weekends. Keeping

regular hours can be hard. It's tempting

to have a well-earned lie-in when you're

not working - especially if you've been

burning the candle at both ends during

the week. But, keeping regular hours

can help to programme your body to

sleep better.

• Do regular physical activity. Try to do

this every day - even now it's winter.

And, if possible, try not to let late nights,

rich festive food and alcohol, if you drink,

get in the way of even a walk, which can

help you wind down after the stress and

strain of the day. (But, don't do physical

activity too close to bedtime, as it can

make you more alert and awake.)

As bedtime approaches:

• Try not to have caffeinated

drinks after 4pm in the afternoon.

Overcompensating on these during the

day, trying to keep yourself awake after

a late night, is best avoided. As you get

nearer to bedtime, you could try herbal

tea or hot milky drink, say.

• Steer clear of eating a heavy meal or

alcohol close to bedtime. According to

The Sleep Council, increasing numbers

of us in the UK are reaching for booze

to try to ease ourselves into the land of

nod. In fact, their 2017 report* reveals

that a quarter (25 per cent) of those

questioned use alcohol as a 'sleep

remedy' compared to 16 per cent who

responded to the survey back in 2013.

Although alcohol seems a handy way to

help you fall asleep, it can result in an

interrupted night's sleep. So, although

it's easy to get carried away if you're at

a party or do, you could try switching to

water a few hours before bed.

• Avoid using your mobile, computer

or tablet, or watching TV before you go

to bed. The blue light waves of backlit devices could be impacting on your

body clock. A Harvard study suggested

avoiding looking at devices like this two

hours before hitting the sack. Of course,

this can be hard with the increasing

reliance on our devices to help us

manage our diabetes. However, night

mode apps on smartphones and tablets

could help - this function may come as

a feature on your device, so it's worth

checking out what's available. Dimming

or warming up the light on your device

(how cool or warm it looks) may also


• Feeling that we always need to be

available and so using our devices

just before, or at bedtime, also makes

it much more difficult to switch off

mentally and wind down. So, make sure

your phone is turned off and in another

room. If you do wake up, or can't get to

sleep, you won't be tempted to take a

quick look at any messages.

• Try to keep up your regular bedtime

routine - give or take. And, try to relax

and unwind as you normally would.

Make room for a bit of 'me time' by

having a warm bath, reading a book or

listening to some music.

• Make sure the room you sleep in is

dark and quiet - a black-out blind

or ear plugs can come in handy. A

comfortable bedroom, in terms of the

temperature and your bed, helps, too.

The ideal temperature for your room is

recommended at a cool 16-18ºc. And, if

your mattress is old or lumpy, it may be

time to hit the January sales and invest

in a new one.


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