How to get the best night sleep every night according to an expert

It's both a science and an art.

how-to-get-the-best-night-sleep-every-night-according-to-an-expert photo 1 VCG / Getty

There are those who can fall asleep anywhere. There are those who need their scented candles and relaxing music to sleep. But then, there are those who just toss and turn all night.

Getting a good amount of sleep is vital for everyone, however, some people still have trouble switching off, closing their eyes and entering into the dream world.

So, if you're looking for a solution, read these expert tips from Dr Guy Meadows, founder of The Sleep School.

Make the unfamiliar, familiar

Known as the ‘first night effect’, recent research has shown us that the brain goes into so-called ‘surveillance mode’ when we sleep somewhere new, with some parts sleeping and others remaining alert and on the look-out for danger.

Taking a few personal items with us when we are staying away from home such as bedside photos or a book can help to reduce the surveillance mode and actually help us to sleep better.

Silent, dark and cool

how-to-get-the-best-night-sleep-every-night-according-to-an-expert photo 2 Chaloner Woods/Getty Images

Three easy-to-follow guidelines create the perfect sleeping haven for good quality sleep:

  • Silent: Our brains never stop listening even during sleep so using a pair of ear plugs can ensure that any unwanted noises won’t disturb your slumber.
  • Dark: Making your room as dark as possible by drawing the curtains or using an eye mask informs your internal body clock that it’s time for sleep, releasing the sleepy hormone melatonin.
  • Cool: Setting your room temperature to a cool 16 - 17C will encourage the 1C drop in core body temperature that we need to help us fall to sleep.

Switch off for sleep

Checking work emails or catching up on the news before bed may seem like a good use of time, but it could be disturbing your sleep. Clinical research shows that using stimulating ‘blue-light’ emitting devices, like smart-phones or tablets, even up to two hours before our usual bedtime, keeps our brains stimulated which delays sleep onset and reduces sleep quality.

Whilst most of us are unlikely to switch off two hours before bed, installing a blue-light filter on your device or creating a habit of switching off devices at least 40 minutes before bed can help.

Calm your mind

Going to bed with a busy mind can make it harder to fall off to sleep, increase night time waking and leave you feeling unrefreshed the next day. Calm your mind by choosing to gently focus your attention onto your breath for a few minutes at a time.

When your mind wanders off onto thoughts, let them go by returning back to your breath. Scientific research suggests that, if practised regularly, mindfulness can promote structural changes in the modern rational part of your brain, leading to deeper and more refreshing sleep, which is essential if you’re a frequent traveller.

Napping Power

Napping is an effective natural performance enhancer, proven to help boost energy levels, memory processing and even creative problem solving. Taking a regular nap for no more than 20 minutes - ideally between midday and 3pm - while travelling can be a helpful way of staying sharp and overcoming fatigue.

Avoid napping any more than 20 minutes as you’ll run the risk of you slipping into deeper sleep and causing you to wake up feeling groggy. Napping later than 3pm will weaken your night-time sleep drive.

Dr Guy Meadows is holding a workshop called The Art & Science of Sleeping on October 19 at London Marriott Hotel Park Lane; buy tickets here.

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