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How to Improve Sleep Quality

How to Improve Sleep Quality

There's nothing worse than settling down in bed and struggling to fall asleep or tossing, turning and waking up during the night. Luckily, you can take some simple steps to ensure a good night of high-quality sleep.

To help out, we've gathered expert information on sleep, from why you need it to tips for optimising your bedtime routine. Here's everything you need to know to improve your sleep quality…

Cat sleeping

Why is sleeping important?

First things first – is sleep important, and why?

Sleep is not just important; it's essential for a healthy brain and physical function. There are several things affected by sleep…

Hormones

Many hormones work on a 24-hour cycle which means your body naturally releases hormones to promote alertness in the morning and make you more tired at night. Low-quality sleep can impact the natural hormone cycle and mean you don't feel refreshed and alert throughout the day.

Immune system

Similarly, your body's cells naturally work throughout the night when you sleep. Immune cells become more active at night while you're resting, meaning a lack of sleep can affect your immune system and leave you more open to catching colds or viruses.

Metabolism

Sleep works alongside your body's natural metabolism to help digest food and fats at the best time for your body. Not getting enough sleep – or not getting sleep at the most appropriate time – can impact metabolism, increasing hormones that affect hunger. Bad sleep quality can also affect the body's ability to respond to insulin.

Circulatory system

Sleeping helps regulate your circulatory system, as your heart rate and blood pressure naturally fall when entering the non-REM sleep stage. If you don't get enough sleep or wake up regularly throughout the night, your heart rate can't return to its usual levels. This means people who don't get enough sleep can be at greater risk of high blood pressure or heart issues.

Cognitive function

Finally, sleep impacts the brain. Getting plenty of sleep helps your brain formulate memories and process what has happened throughout the day. If you don't get enough sleep, you may suffer from memory issues or have problems focusing when awake.

Causes of poor sleep

What causes poor sleep quality?

So, we know what poor sleep quality affects – but what causes it in the first place? There are a few different factors that can contribute to poor sleep quality. These include:

  • Bad sleep habits - If you're not in a routine, you may struggle to sleep. Plus, your sleep can be lower quality and make you feel more tired in the morning.
  • Stress and anxiety - Stress throughout the day can play on your mind at night, leading to lower-quality sleep.
  • Food and drink - Certain food and drinks, such as alcohol or caffeine, can disrupt sleep.
  • Health conditions - Health conditions or sleep disorders, including insomnia, can cause poor-quality sleep.

What are the different types of sleep?

There are two primary types of sleep you experience to feel the benefits of a full night's sleep – REM (or rapid eye movement) sleep and non-REM sleep. During the night, you will cycle through both stages.

REM sleep is the period of sleep you reach about an hour and a half after first falling asleep, and it is when most dreams occur. During REM sleep, the muscles in your arms and legs become paralysed to prevent you from moving or acting out your dreams.

Non-REM sleep occurs in three stages.

  • Stage one of non-REM sleep is when you first fall asleep. This consists of relatively light sleep, where your brain waves begin to slow down and your heart rate and breathing decrease.
  • Stage two of non-REM sleep is a second period of light sleep. Here, your body, breathing and muscles slow and relax even more, and eye movement stills.
  • Stage three of non-REM sleep is the deepest sleep period, in which your body fully relaxes. This stage of sleep helps you feel well-rested in the morning. During this sleep stage, it is most difficult to awaken.

It's essential to go through all the different stages of sleep to wake up feeling the benefits. A night of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep allows you to cycle through all the stages of REM and non-REM sleep.

What is the optimum sleep time?

A good night's sleep isn't just about sleep quality – it's also about sleep efficiency. Efficient sleeping means getting the optimal amount of sleep to function at your best. This doesn't just mean ensuring you get enough sleep; getting too much sleep can also be inefficient.

Your optimum sleep time varies depending on several factors, including age, health and activity levels throughout the day. For most adults between 18-64 years old, optimum sleep time is between 7-9 hours per night.

Reading book in bed

How to improve the quality of your sleep

If you're looking to improve your sleep quality and sleep through the night without waking up, there are a few steps you can take. We'd recommend the following…

Set a routine.

Try to make sure you're going to bed and getting up at the same time each morning and night. Weekends can often negatively impact your routine, so stick to a consistent time throughout the week. Find your optimum sleep time and aim to reach this every night.

Make sure your bed is comfortable.

Sometimes, sleep issues can be caused by something as simple as the bed or mattress you use. Ensure your bed is comfortable, supportive and has plenty of room, and that your mattress is right for you. If you're unsure which mattress is best, our guide on How to Choose a Mattress explains everything to consider. Replacing an old bed or a sagging, inefficient mattress can make a world of difference regarding sleep quality.

Create a relaxing environment.

Your room should be dark, quiet and free from distractions. Light and noise can cause you to wake up throughout the night, so invest in curtains, black-out blinds, and earplugs if you're a light sleeper. Electronic devices such as TVs or computers can also affect sleep quality, so create a room designed primarily for sleeping – you'll quickly notice the difference in how well you sleep.

Avoid tech before bed.

Similarly, avoid using your phone or social media just before bed. Blue lights from electronics can cause your brain to become more alert, meaning you struggle to fall asleep. Instead, try reading a book. This helps your brain switch off and your body unwinds, meaning you'll fall into a natural, healthier sleep.

Try relaxation techniques.

Creating a relaxing evening routine can be hugely beneficial when it comes to falling asleep. Having a bath, spending a little time on a skincare routine, or even meditating before bed can help. Plus, creating a routine signals to your brain that sleep is coming, making it easier for you to switch off and fall asleep when the time comes.

Exercise.

Being active throughout the day helps your body get into a consistent routine. This also helps ensure you're tired at the right time of night, meaning you fall asleep more easily and are much less likely to wake up throughout the night.

Avoid food and drink triggers.

Avoid caffeine in the evening, as caffeine can significantly impact sleep quality. It's also sensible to avoid big meals too close to bedtime and avoid sugary foods, which can cause a spike in energy levels. Despite initially causing sleepiness, alcohol can also disrupt sleep, so it is best avoided if you're struggling with the quality of your sleep.

Get ready for high-quality sleep

It's clear how vital sleep is, not just for waking up and feeling ready to take on the day but also for various health reasons and cognitive functions. Finding your optimum sleep time, avoiding triggers and sticking to a routine are all ways to eliminate poor-quality sleep and get the rest you deserve.

If you're considering a bedroom revamp or want to upgrade your mattress, our collection is packed with options to ensure you get a dreamy, restful night's sleep.

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