How to sleep better
Written by Gilly Ferguson
26 Mar 2021
Sleep - few topics generate as many questions as the ‘S’ word, or as many answers. Am I getting enough sleep? How do I get to sleep? How can I sleep better?
Despite a spike in awareness surrounding sleep hygiene over recent years, 50% of us still struggle to sleep – with 47% of adults saying they ‘would try anything’ to improve their sleep quality, and only 46% saying they feel well rested when they wake up1.
In just 24-hours, a bad night’s sleep can affect the way we look, while prolonged sleep deprivation can result in low moods, poor concentration and feeling stressed. And the more stressed we are, the harder it is to sleep!
How to Sleep Better, Your Expert Guide
For the highly-strung among us, or for those who just love a deep sleep – how do we make sure we’re getting our BEST sleep? We put your FAQs to ‘America’s Sleep Doctor’ – Dr Michael Breus.
Why can't I sleep?
“There are countless reasons you may be suffering from occasional insomnia, from a full sleeping disorder like sleep apnea, to emotional stress or dehydration,” says Dr. Breus. The four most common reasons are:
Low blood sugar levels.
Not getting enough Vitamin D or magnesium.
Working against your chronotype.
What is a Chronotype?
Our individual sleeping patterns vary depending on age, lifestyle and environment – with each of us having a specific circadian rhythm that defines how alert we are throughout the day, and how much sleep we need at night (between 6.5-8-hours). Chronotypes are used by experts to classify these different sleep vs. activity schedules:
Bear (most people) – sleeps 11pm to 7am.
Lion –sleeps 10pm to 6am.
Wolf – sleeps 12am to 7:30am.
Dolphin (fewest people) – sleeps 12am to 6:30am.
Adjust your bedtime by 30 mins each day until you find your chronotype.
12 Tips to Boost Your Bedtime
Identify your chronotype, then:
Start your day with water.
Up your daily vitamin D intake (get outside for at least 15mins sunlight).
Create a CONSISTENT sleep routine: go to bed and get up at the same time every day (including weekends).
Practice good sleep hygiene (see below).
Avoid fried or spicy food, refined sugars, red meat and garlic two hours before bedtime.
Reach for melatonin rich snacks (milk, cherries, eggs, nuts).
Set a cutoff time for stimulants (caffeine, alcohol).
Leave two hours between high energy workouts and bedtime (endorphins work against natural sleep circles).
But – yoga and meditation will help you unwind.
Improve your sleep space (see below).
Switch off your tech – set limits on screen time, or invest in blue light blocking glasses.
Switch off your mind.
Seek help for mental health issues.
How to switch off your mind
Whether you want to fall asleep faster, or fall back to sleep in the middle of the night, here’s how to calm a busy mind:
Make a sleep routine and stick to it.
Keep a journal – write it out.
Listen to calming music.
Try light exercise or meditation.
Did you know: “Classical music is proven to boost our concentration during the day, and help us sleep better at night.” – Dr. Michael Breus
What is sleep hygiene?
“One thing we often forget about is what we’re sleeping on. Cleaning your bed linen helps cut back on allergies and other sleep disturbances. Vacuum your mattress twice a year with a slightly wet cloth and stain remover as needed.” – Dr. Michael Breus
How to improve your sleep space
How often should I replace my pillow? Every 1-2 years (if you fold it in half and it doesn’t spring open by itself, get rid).
Replace your mattress every 8 years.
Optimum room temperature is 20C (68-70F).
How sleep improves your skin
“Sleep is one of the most important parts of your skincare routine,” says Dr. Michael Breus. Sleep and skin health are controlled by the skin’s body clock. At night, anti-inflammatory and anti-stress hormones are secreted (regulated by the 24-hour body clock), switching on the skin’s repair, renewal and detoxification processes. If sleep is disturbed, this process is affected. Put simply, better sleep = better skin.
3 Signs that your skin is sleep deprived
Dark Circles: Intensified due to increased build-up of toxins (see also: drained complexions).
Texture: Sleep deprivation affects mouth and skin texture including a loss of skin elasticity.
Prematute Ageing: Poor sleepers experience significantly higher levels of trans-epidermal water loss, heightening skin sensitivity and redness as well as definition of fine lines and wrinkles.
What is a good nighttime routine?
2-Hours before bedtime
Yoga or meditation – and light a candle. Dimming lights in the evening (aka candlelight) is a recipe for better sleep, as is getting more daylight when you wake. Light suppresses a hormone called melatonin which signals to the body that it’s time to go to sleep.
Bath/shower using a relaxing oil.
Glass of cherry juice.
Did you know: “If you’re struggling to sleep you may want to try switching your morning shower to a nightly wash. Your body temp will rise, then fall, supporting temperature regulation for a more restorative sleep.” –Dr. Michael Breus
30-60 mins before bedtime
Switch off your tech.
Apply your evening skincare routine
What are the best products to help with sleep?
The best sleep aids work while you Zzz, perfect for anyone (read: everyone) who fancies waking up to genuinely great skin. Optimise your overnight skincare routine with these sleeping beauties:
Treatments & Masks
A legend in the Japanfusion™ lineup, this Deep Moisture Mask moonlights as a weekly overnight sleep mask. A plumping, soothing, smoothing vitaminising feat of genius.
Used nightly, Super Retinol Night Moisturizer contains super gentle encapsulated slow-release Retinol for an overnight smoothing sleep blitz, that leaves your skin refreshed, dewy and youthful looking.
Plantastic Overnight Face Oil is clean, vegan, Ayurvedic and packed with high performance ingredients – including Bakuchiol (great for retinol reluctants)– to help restore and renew skin while you sleep.
The best sleep oils are deliciously light. Amazing Sleep Oil delivers just the right dose of anti-aging Algae extracts, Omega 3s and vitamin E.
Add a weekly foot treatment into your bodycare wind down routine. Luxury foot cream phenomenon Footopia will soften hard skin while you snooze. Just add swanky socks.
Spray the best lavender pillow spray lightly onto your body, pyjamas or pillowcase. Lavender is proven to increase slow-wave sleep, lower the heart rate and reduce anxiety.
A silk eye mask helps preserve hydration around the eyes while providing ultimate comfort while you sleep.
“Rose-scented products are proven to improve our learning and retention during sleep.” –Dr. Michael Breus
Can supplements help?
Some people take magnesium as it supports the nervous system, as well as supporting a healthy psychological function and helping with normal energy production and also aids the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.
Mintel report in 2017