How to enjoy a better and deeper night’s sleep
Making the most of the hours we dedicate to sleep is key to feeling rested and ready to face a new day when the sun rises.
Making sure that we get enough hours of sleep is a great place to start, but quantity isn’t everything - if our sleep is fragmented, disturbed and interrupted, our body may not get any deep sleep, which is vital to feeling rested the next morning.
Sleeping deeply is key to restoring our body’s key functions, and if you ever feel like you haven’t got enough energy to see you through your day, our advice for improving your sleep is here to help.
Why is it important to sleep well?
Sleeping deeply is of utmost importance to the correct functioning of your body. Our psychological and physical health depends on the quality and duration of our sleep, meaning sleep deprivation has a significant impact on our quality of life.
Claiming to be able to take on a day of presentations and video conferences without giving your body the chance to restore itself through its natural sleep cycle is like trying to use a cell phone without charging it first: ignoring the early low battery warning signs will inevitably lead to running out of juice!
Important processes take place while we sleep:
- our memories are processed. If you don’t sleep well, and for enough hours to have time to sleep deeply, you risk reaping no benefits from your night-time study sessions! Our brain sorts through memories while we sleep, particularly during REM sleep, to make sure that we can easily recall them when we need to.
- body temperature and blood pressure are regulated. During some stages of non-REM sleep, our body regulates our core temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rate. If you pay close attention to what you eat and your physical health through exercise and a balanced diet, you should also be focusing on improving your rest.
- you recuperate energy for physical activity. Sleep helps you gain energy and lets your muscles recover between workouts. Not getting enough sleep or sleeping badly can make your next gym session a total washout!
- your immune system rebalances. Various processes take place while we sleep, including the release of signaling molecules that help to regulate the immune system, which allows our body’s natural defences to work effectively.
- your body regulates your hormones. When we don't sleep well, the level of hormones that regulate hunger and the feeling of being full change, which can affect your tendency to overeat, and this may set you up for weight gain.
If you want to look after your body, to feel productive in your studies and work, or simply to improve your mood during the day, we recommend trying out these tips and tricks to help you enjoy a better and deeper sleep.
Techniques and suggestions to sleep better
If you want to dedicate yourself to good sleep hygiene and make sure you enjoy a high-quality sleep for the right number of hours, we have compiled a list of methods and techniques that we recommend you read through and try out to help you make the most of your rest. Here is our Guidebook to the land of Zzzs:
- The importance of your surrounding space: Sleep may be an opportunity for your body to slow down and your mind to rest, but environmental stimuli are still able to have an effect on you. It is therefore vital for you to make sure that where you sleep is as neutral as possible.
- Remove sources of light: close your curtains so the sun doesn’t wake you up too early, turn off the lights, and make sure your alarm clock doesn’t emit too much light.
- Make sure there are no annoying noises: turn off your cell phone, don’t sleep with the television on, and wear ear plugs if you’re in a particularly noisy space. If you’re someone who likes to sleep with white noise or relaxing sounds in the background to help you sleep, we recommend setting it on a timer, or only listening to instrumental music.
- Reserve the bed for restful activities: make sure that your mattress and soft pillow are only used for sleep, resting and relaxing. Work in a different room if you can, or if you have to work in your bedroom, work at a small desk, in an armchair or anywhere else that isn’t your bed! Associating your bed with demanding and stressful work could take your mind back to those situations when it’s time to sleep, which can disturb your sleep or make it difficult to fall asleep.
- Set the room at a comfortable temperature: too high or low a temperature could disturb your rest, making you sweat or have frozen toes! You should be able to sleep snug in your blanket burrito at a temperature of 18-21°C.
- Be careful when enjoying stimulating foods and drinks: Some foods and drinks put your body on alert, which isn’t ideal when you want to wind down before bed. Some substances that you should definitely avoid before bedtime are:
- caffeine and tea: this shouldn't be news to you! For most of us, coffee and tea are a vital part of waking up in the morning, but enjoying them too much during the day isn’t a great idea. Even if you do fall asleep, your body may be too active, which could stop you from enjoying a restful sleep. We recommend restricting your consumption to the morning and early afternoon.
- energy drinks: when night-time approaches, we need to avoid all stimulating substances, restricting them instead to the first half of the day when we need a boost of energy; it’s not a good idea to force your metabolism to get going when your body is settling down to rest.
- alcohol: the sleepiness you may feel after enjoying a late-night tipple is only short term. You may experience disruptions to your sleep or a decline in sleep quality.
- nicotine: smoking also keeps your body up and alert, since it is a stimulating substance.
If you want to relax before bed, we recommend enjoying a glass of warm milk, which is rich in amino acids and other nutritious substances.
To exercise or not to exercise? Exercising regularly is undoubtedly important to stay healthy, but if you want to sleep better, we recommend not doing strenuous physical activity in the 3-4 hours before going to bed. Intense physical stimulation could make your body too alert, stopping you from enjoying a good rest. If you don’t want to sit still, a relaxing activity like gentle yoga is a great idea, as is meditation or stretching just before bed.
Keep away from devices: The blue light emitted by most device screens that we use every day “trick” your brain and stimulate your brain circuits that keep you awake and active. We therefore recommend not using your computer, cell phone or tablet and not playing video games just before bed, because these will not prepare your body for restful sleep. Instead, you could try reading a paper book, or an e-book reader without a back light, to help you sleep.
Stick to a routine: Going to bed and waking up around the same time helps your body to regulate your metabolism and circadian rhythm, preparing you for restorative sleep. Staying up late on weekends and waking up at midday might seem like a way to recharge after a long week, but it is actually counterproductive for your sleep-wake cycle.
Watch what you eat: Eating a large meal not long before going to bed will activate your digestion, which can cause you to sleep badly or struggle to fall asleep. Try to only eat a light snack if you know you’ll be going to go to sleep in the next few hours.
Take a snooze: Forty winks can be the ideal solution if you have slept badly the night before, but try to make it quick, 15-20 minutes max - this will make sure that you don’t end up in a deep sleep, which might make you feel dazed if you don’t complete a proper sleep cycle and could affect your sleep when night-time arrives.
Let go of stress: Many sleep disorders boil down to not being able to sleep because of worries that you accumulate throughout the day and anxiety caused by thinking about organizing the day to come. Try to plan your next day ahead, so you’re not left with anything unresolved before bedtime. To manage anxiety and stress, you can try out meditation or relaxation techniques based on observing your breathing or relaxing your muscles - there are loads of very simple techniques that can help you relax before bed!
Run a warm bath: In addition to reducing stress, a warm bath increases your body temperature, which will then lower more significantly when you go to bed. This lowering in temperature is one of the most traditional ways to help you sleep better.
A melatonin supplement may help with occasional sleeplessness: Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland and is released when it is dark. It helps to regulate your circadian rhythm and maintain a natural sleep-wake cycle. You can also take melatonin directly, thanks to ZzzQuil NATURA supplements, as a helping hand to get you off to sleep more quickly.
After reading all this advice, all that’s left for you to do is tuck yourself in under the covers, rest your head on your pillow and welcome the land of Zzzs, in full confidence that you will be able to take on tomorrow, and all the tomorrows to come, with all the energy you need!
- Dietary supplements are not intended to substitute a varied and balanced diet and should be taken as part of a healthy lifestyle.
- Melatonin contributes towards reducing the time it takes to fall asleep.
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