The Ultimate Guide to Better Sleep

Do you struggle to sleep?

We’re here to help! We’ve got some simple tips to help you get a good night’s rest and be more productive the next day.

We know that in the NHS, there’s no time to rest! When you work long hours, you must get a good night’s rest before tackling your next shift. Not getting enough sleep can affect your mental and physical health. A lack of sleep reduces your energy, productivity and even can affect your weight.

Getting a goodnight sleep may seem impossible for you, but sometimes the only thing stopping you from falling asleep is yourself by worrying. However, one of the main factors that’s typically an issue is what you do in your daily routine. The following tips can help you get that good night’s sleep, boost your mood in the morning and improve your health.

Control your lighting

Do you sleep with light in your room? Well, stop! Melatonin is a natural hormone controlled by light exposure, which helps your wake-up cycle. Did you know your brain produces more melatonin when it’s dark? This is what makes you feel sleepy, and then when it is light, you start to feel more alert. To help your body get in sync with this, here is what you need to do;

  • During the day, try and expose yourself to sunlight in the morning. Maybe have your morning coffee outside (I know what you are all thinking, the UK is COLD! So perhaps just try this when the weather warms up). Also, try and spend more time outside by taking your work breaks outside or getting some evening/morning exercise.
  • At night, avoid bright screens 1-2 hours before you go to bed. If you do go on your phone, set it to nighttime more, so it reduces the amount of blue light emitted. Also, try and not to fall asleep to the television on. The light from the TV reduces melatonin being produced, and it disturbs our peace. Finally, make sure your room is dark. Maybe invest in some new curtains or blinds that block out any light or try using a sleep mask.

Keep your sleep pattern in sync

This is probably the most crucial step for a better nights sleep. Constantly changing your sleep pattern will dramatically affect your body clock. Many NHS staff, unfortunately, have to do different shifts each week, which doesn’t help your sleep pattern at all; however, our how NHS staff can deal with the night shift blog offers some tips on how to overcome a night shift.

Some quick tips we have to share are:

  • Avoid the urge to have a lie-in. The more your sleep pattern differs, the more you’ll start to feel ‘jet-lag symptoms. You’ll tend to feel more sleepy and tired by doing this. If you have a late night, try and get up at your normal time and opt for a daytime nap to help with tiredness rather than a lie-in.
  • How should you nap? We do recommend taking a nap to make up for lost sleep; however, sometimes naps can make you feel 10x worse if you don’t be strategic about them. Limit your naps to 15-20 minutes in the afternoon.

Improve your sleep environment

Your sleeping environment is so important! We tend to forget how important it actually is; you spend a third of your day in bed every day. If you haven’t changed your sleeping environment in a while and you are suffering from a bad nights sleep, then kit’s time to do something about it! The most important factor is a good quality mattress. Choosing a mattress that provides the right level of support and comfort will help prevent back problems and help you get a relaxing sleep, so you’re refreshed ready for another shift. Beds and mattresses can be quite expensive, but NHS staff can currently get 10% off online with our NHS discount code at Benson’s for Beds. You could even find the bed or mattress that suits you at your local store, buy it online through our website, and save 10%.

No phone in bed

Whatever you do, don’t get into bed and start playing on your phone after a night shift. According to Harvard academic Professor Charles Czeisler, artificial light can actually stimulate and ‘fool’ the brain into staying awake. Playing games or checking your Facebook can make you more alert, which is the exact opposite of what you’re trying to do. Put your phone down; your hundreds of friend requests can wait a few hours.

Consider what you eat & drink

What you eat and drink in the day and before bed affects how you sleep. Here are some easy tips to consider:

  • Limit caffeine. Did you know that caffeine can affect how you sleep up to 10-12 hours after you drink it? Consider this if you are on a night shift, try and avoid it if possible!
  • Avoid eating big meals at night. This is a classic big no no before bed but people still do it! if you are hungry then you have to eat but try to avoid rich and heavy foods before bed.
  • Avoid drinking too many liquids before bed. This will help reduce trips to the bathroom in the night which disrupts your sleep!

Take a breather before bed

It can be really difficult to switch off from the day and try and go to sleep. Sometimes you just can stop thinking about what has happened that day in wor, how busy your next day will be or trying to forget all of your worries. By taking a breather before bed, it can help lower your heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels helping you to drift off into a deep sleep.

  • Try some breathing exercise here and find the best one that helps you.
  • Try the Sleepio app. Sleepio is a 6-week online program designed by sleep experts and based on cognitive and behavioural techniques.
  • Try This Works sleep solution. NHS staff get 20% off.

Thinking of updating your sleep environment? See all our NHS discounts on furniture, beds, mattresses and bedding.

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