The City is not a place conducive to regular, high-quality sleep. Long hours and late nights spent staring at a computer screen mean even when we do get to bed, it can be difficult to switch off.
It is often a vicious cycle, too – the less sleep we get, the more we worry about it and the harder it becomes to sleep when the opportunity arises.
Lack of sleep can be detrimental to our lives in many ways – it affects relationships, happiness, and our ability to work. But turning to medical remedies such as sleeping tablets does not have to be the solution, since there are a number of simple lifestyle changes that have been scientifically proven to help people get to sleep at night.
All of the following should be possible even for those with the busiest lives and least flexible schedules.
Exercise – but not too late
It may sound obvious – but exercise can be a great help to those in need of some good kip.
According to researchers, the optimum is two and a half hours of moderate exercise or one and a quarter hours of more intense exercise each week.
But try to go before work or during your lunch break, since exercising late in the evening can actually have the opposite effect and keep you awake at night.
Dim the computer lights
Bright blue light is known to increase alertness and make it more difficult to go to sleep, but working late in front of a computer or phone screen is often an unavoidable fact of life for those working in the City.
There are methods available for reducing the effect, however, such as dimming your phone screen or using one of a variety of programs to diminish the blue glow from your computer screen. There are even amber-tinted glasses available which have been shown to improve sleep quality.
Eat a small supper just before bed, but make sure there are carbs in it
Research has shown that eating a portion of food containing less than 200 calories increases the chance of getting to sleep, but it must be rich in carbohydrates. Why not try a slice of toast or a bowl of porridge?
Don't do nothing if you can't get back to sleep
If you wake up in the middle of the night and proceed to stay awake for more than twenty minutes, the worst thing you can do is lie in bed and dwell on the fact that you can't sleep. Try doing something to occupy your mind, such as reading a book. That way, sleep should return more naturally.
In fact, before industrial times it was common for people to take a “first” and “second” sleep over the course of the night, each lasting for around four hours and with an hour in between.
Keep your feet warm with a pair of socks
If it's cold and your feet creep out from under your duvet in the middle of the night, they can end up losing so much heat that they wake you up – particularly if you have bad circulation.
With winter approaching, you can get around this by wearing a pair of socks in bed – simple!
The bedroom is not for work
Make the following rule for yourself: that you will not use your bedroom as a place to do work. Disassociating your sleep environment from work is known to encourage relaxation and therefore promote sleep.
Plan bedtime so you wake up on a high
According to scientist Richard Wiseman, sleep happens in 90 minute cycles and you feel your best if you wake up at the end of one of these cycles. In his book Night School, he suggests planning your bed time better so that your night of sleep will consist of a whole number of these cycles. For example, if you have to wake up at 7am then try to go to bed at 11.30pm.