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Article by Sarah Hamilton-Walker | 1st March 2018

Shake Up Your Sleep

Learn the A to Zzzz of a good night’s sleep this National Bed Month.

A good night’s sleep is vital to our health and wellbeing and there are a multitude of factors that affect our sleep – from our mattress and diet, to stimulants and stress, which in turn affects our ability to wake up fresh and raring to go. Sleep is the mysterious shift in our consciousness that our bodies require every day.

Lisa Artis, sleep guru at The Sleep Council said: “Our polls show people rate a good bed as vital to a good night’s rest and there’s no doubt that a comfortable and supportive mattress is essential.

“We recommend replacing a bed at least every seven years and buying from a reputable retailer that stocks beds from manufacturers which are members of the National Bed Federation (NBF). The NBF’s Code of Practice ensures that products can be trusted to be safe, clean and meet trading standards requirements.”

• Visit www.sleepcouncil.org.uk

A is for alcohol: alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes are all stimulants reducing sleep quality and preventing you feeling rested.

B is for bed!: invest in the best you can afford, replace it at least every seven years and buy one made by a NBF member.

C is for circadian rhythm: this 24-hour internal clock works best when you have a regular sleep pattern.

D is for diet: avoid over-eating before bedtime and choose foods with sleep-promoting chemicals such as chicken and turkey, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, peanuts, beans and milk.

E is for exercise: essential for good health and restful sleep but try not to exercise too vigorously close to bedtime.

F is for 40 winks: while a nap doesn’t make up for poor quality sleep at nighttime, grabbing 40 winks, or a short nap of 20-30 minutes in the afternoon can help to improve mood, alertness and performance.

G is for gadgets: laptops, phones and even the TV are sleep stealers! Switch them off at least an hour before bedtime.

H is for health: sleep is crucial to health and wellbeing as it’s involved in the repair and restoration of our bodies.

I is for illness: sleep deficiency is linked to increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and obesity.

J is for jet lag: eating three balanced meals containing fresh fruit, vegetables and protein the day before you fly can help your bodyclock re-set more quickly at your destination.

K is for karma: temperature, lighting, comfort, banning gadgets and gizmos, relaxation and reducing noise are all vital to creating a restful sleep sanctuary.

L is for lifestyle: making small adjustments to your lifestyle or environment could significantly improve the quality of your sleep.

M is for meditation: along with massage, meditation can promote relaxation and drifting off to a good night’s sleep.

N is for National Bed Federation: buy a bed made by a NBF member and you can be sure that it meets all required safety and trading standards.

O is for oils: aromatherapy oils are also brilliant sleep-inducers, particularly traditional favourites such as lavender.

P is for pillow: your head weighs 4.5-5.5kg (10-12lb) and your neck contains seven of the spine’s 33 vertebrae. A good pillow should hold your head in the correct alignment and help avoid neck pain and even persistent headaches.

Q is for quiet: of course, loud, sudden or repetitive noises can interrupt sleep but others can be soothing, particularly soft, steady sounds. Double-glazing and foam earplugs can all help to promote sleep-friendly tranquillity.

R is for relaxation: a bubbly bath, warm milky drinks or herbal teas and curling up with a good book can all help you wind down. And the old adage ‘never go to sleep on an argument’ holds true: conflicts can leave us stressed and angry, which can make it near impossible to fall asleep.S is for snoring: one of the biggest causes of partner sleep disturbance, snoring has no known cure but its effects can be diminished with earplugs and separate beds!

T is for the 30-Day Sleep Plan: answer a few questions about your sleep, lifestyle and health and the Sleep Council will create you a unique online 30-day plan. Visit www.sleepcouncil.org.uk/30-day-plan/ and you could hopefully be sleeping better in a month.

U is for unwind: in the golden hour before your head hits the pillow it’s vital to relax, switch off electronic gadgets and get yourself in a sleepy frame of mind.

V is for vacation: if you can’t splurge on a holiday, give yourself a weekend sleep-cation: power off the electronics and have a two-day wind down.

W is for worry: almost half of Brits say worry and stress keep them awake at night. To counteract this, invest in a careful wind-down routine so you can relax and switch off.

X is for Xmas: all that food and drink can lead to a Santa-sized sleep problem so keep up those sensible sleep habits throughout the festive season.

Y is for yoga: gentle stretching, relaxation and breathing can aid a restful night.

Z is for zzzzzzzzz – of course!

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