Friday, 17 March 2017

Spring into British Summer Time

Many of us are guilty of poor sleep habits, spending every hour of the day (and then some) in a perpetually connected and active state. By the time the morning alarm starts to beep, many of us will regret how long we stayed up the night before, checking emails or trawling the Internet.

It's not just the fact that we feel a bit groggy with lack of sleep, our core ability to function properly is hijacked. Expert sleep advisor for Warren Evans bed makers, Dave Gibson BSC says:

"Our short-term memory, our ability to plan and to make decisions and rational judgments are all affected by lack of sleep. So you are much more likely to stick to a new diet, stop smoking, get fit or generally be more organised when your brain and body is well rested from continuous and good quality sleep."

We have some top tips to help you prepare for losing an hour when the clocks change on Sunday 26th March (or any lack of sleep, generally!), and also for helping you make up for a loss of sleep on Sunday especially if you need a boost to get going.

Get Prepared...

Get to sleep earlier
An obvious one, but the best way to help your body is to ensure that it doesn't actually lose the hour. If you can shift both your Friday night schedule and Saturday schedules respectively earlier by ½ hour each day it makes it easier to ensure you are in bed, drifting off an hour early on Saturday night. On Saturday this would also mean that you are also aiming to eat 1 hour earlier than normal too. So, your day naturally lines up to go to bed one hour earlier that night meaning that when Sunday morning rolls around, you won't have missed a thing.

Set your alarm ½ hour earlier on Saturday morning
Even if you don't manage to get to bed earlier on Friday night this would ensure that you are more likely to be tired when you try to pull your Saturday sleep schedule forward by one hour (or even by ½ hour if that's all you can manage) later on Saturday evening.

Get your body to feel tired so it's easier to get to sleep earlier
If you can't shift your Saturday forward, your body is naturally going to be on your current sleep schedule, and one hour out of cinque with Sunday's new time zone. This could mean that getting to bed earlier might not necessarily mean you get more sleep. You may end up just lying in bed wide-awake. Choose a tried and tested relaxation method or try something new, to help your body slow down both mentally and physically, and know it's bedtime. Stretching, light activity or meditation can really help. Having a bath with lavender, diming the lights, and reading a book rather than watching TV are all going to have the effect of helping you switch off.

Get to sleep more quickly...

Eat to sleep
When it's near sleep time, our bodies start to produce the hormone melatonin, which causes that sleepy feeling and tells our bodies to start winding down Certain foods contain an amino acid called tryptophan, a precursor to melatonin, and so can help to send you on your way to the land of nod. Tryptophan is in a host of foods including turkey, nuts and seeds, and dairy foods and is best absorbed when eaten with carbohydrate. Yoghurt and honey for breakfast and a turkey sandwich for lunch will all help your body to absorb more Tryptophan during the day. Tart (Montmorency) Cherries are another great food to eat as they contain their own source of Melatonin. If you fancy a snack before bed, bananas are a great fruit to eat as they contain tryptophan and the minerals potassium and magnesium which can help your muscles to relax. If you fancy a drink before bed milk and honey is another great combination.

Don't drink alcohol to help get you to sleep
Whilst alcohol can help relax us and get us to sleep quicker, it disrupts our REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep leading to a reduced quality of sleep. REM sleep is when we dream and is also the part of our sleep cycle when our brain is restored and detoxed.

Recover Quickly...

Take a nap during the day
A nap is a good way to top up any lost sleep but be careful to work with your natural sleep patterns. Our bodies are brilliant, when given the chance, at healing a sleep "debt". Just make sure it works with your body's natural sleep habits, a 90 minute nap should work, giving you one full circuit of your sleep cycle. However don't try to make up just the full hour with a 60 minute nap as this would mean you wake in the middle of the deep part of your sleep cycle and end up feeling groggy. If you can't manage 90 minutes, set the alarm for a 20 minute power nap instead. Don't take your nap after 3 to 4 pm as it will prevent you from falling asleep easily on Sunday night. Find somewhere quiet, set an alarm and get snoozing!

Drink green tea rather than coffee
Caffeine is a great energy booster after a bad night's sleep. A lot of us drink coffee early to wake up in the morning, and then hopefully ease off it by midday so that our bodies start to relax when it's bedtime. Caffeine can take up to 6 hours to leave your body! Green tea however is a great alternative for coffee, containing around ½ of the caffeine. More importantly green tea also contains theanine an amino acid which helps us relax and reduces anxiety, and therefore can help us get to sleep more easily at night. Perhaps the best of both worlds?

Get outside
Sunlight is our body's natural alarm clock, which is why we naturally wake up when it gets brighter in the mornings. Our bodies take the presence of sunlight as a sign to stop producing melatonin, the sleep hormone, which will help you to feel more awake. Open the curtains when you wake up and, if you're feeling tired in the daytime, try to get outside in the day for a short walk.

Warren Evans bed makers are experts on sleep. If you need help getting off to sleep more easily, or need more sleep then visit Sleep Tips for advice.

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