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The Art of Sleep

Long Read
Words by Emilie Dock

We spend about a third of our lives in bed – and with good reason. Sleep is our superfuel. It keeps us happy and relaxed. It helps us retain our memory. It wards off coughs and colds. It even protects us from chronic illnesses. It’s no wonder, then, that we’re all obsessed with getting a good night’s kip. From choosing the best bedding to expert sleep-hygiene tips, allow us to help you get some quality shuteye...

Tip 1: Stick to a sleep schedule

We're creatures of habit! Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day – even on the weekend. It’ll help your body clock find a natural rhythm and settle into a regular sleep-wake cycle. Between 7–9 hours of sleep per night should do it.

Tip 2: Go outside

Make it an early- to mid-morning routine, for at least 20 minutes each day. Morning exposure to daylight helps you sleep better at night. Fact.

Tip 3: Lay off the caffeine, especially after midday

At this very moment, adenosine is building up in your brain. The more adenosine you accumulate, the more tired you feel. Caffeine overrides your adenosine receptors, making you feel more alert. It also stays in your system longer than you might think, with a so-called half-life of about five to six hours, and a quarter-life of 12 hours. This means that if you have a cup of coffee at midday it will still be in your system at midnight. This may not stop you going to sleep, but it will affect the quality of your slumber, reducing the amount of deep sleep you get by about 20 per cent. 

The Edit: Sleep-Friendly Brews

Tip 4: Sleep begets exercise; exercise begets sleep

Exercise reduces anxiety and tires your body out – both good for sleep. And if you’re well rested, you’re more likely to exercise. It’s a win-win. So get on that Technogym bike! But try not to exercise less than 2–3 hours before bed.

Tip 5: Steer clear of the nightcap

Alcohol disturbs your REM sleep and reduces the brain’s ability to retain memories. This might prove unpopular, but if you’re feeling tired and frazzled day in, day out, then reducing your alcohol intake could help.

Tip 5: Avoid blue light before bed

Turn off all of your devices at least one hour before you intend to go to sleep. Blue light has been shown to reduce melatonin (the sleep-inducing hormone) levels by 50 per cent, making it difficult to drift off.

Night Skincare

Tip 6: Relax and unwind before bed

Light a scented candle. Soak in a hot bath. Indulge in a luxurious skincare routine. You’ll form positive associations with bedtime and find it easier to get to sleep – and wake up refreshed and glowing.

Tip 7: Turn the temperature down

We sleep better at night when we’re cooler. Optimum temperature is around 18 degrees Celsius. Something to bear in mind when choosing your bedding.

Tip 8: Don’t lie awake in bed

Tossing and turning? Get out of bed and do something else (avoid bright lights and screens). Your brain will very quickly associate your bed with a place of wakefulness. Only return to bed when you're sleepy.

Tip 9: Get comfortable

A comfortable mattress, plump pillows and sumptuous linens will set you up for a good night’s sleep. And who can deny the pleasure of slipping into a beautifully made bed?

The Edit: Land of Nod

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