Do you have problems dropping off? Stick to a bedtime routine, to remind your brain that it’s time to relax and sleep. And don’t be tempted to sneak an extra episode before lights-out. Blue light from screens has been shown to disrupt sleeping patterns and make nodding off more difficult. We sleep in cycles of about 90 minutes at a time, so coming-to partway through can make us feel groggy and disoriented. If you’re getting a good eight hours but still waking up exhausted, it could mean you’re waking up halfway through a cycle. Try working out when you need to wake up and count back in 90-minute segments to work out roughly when you should fall asleep. And if you’re still tired, we recommend the gurus at Global Sleep Solutions, an innovative sleep clinic based at The Shard.
Everyone’s body is different, so everyone’s optimal sleep is different. Research suggests 7 to 9 hours’ sleep per night is generally ideal for adults (more for teenagers; less for seniors), but the best way to gauge your personal sleep needs is to work out how much sleep leaves you feeling awake and refreshed during the day. You can also take a number of quizzes (we like this one from Richard Wiseman) to determine whether you’re sleep-deprived.
When we’re busy or on a deadline, sleep can fall by the wayside. But sleep is about much more than just putting our brains on standby – research has shown that it helps us process memories, synthesize hormones, grow muscle and repair tissue. Reduced sleep can make us panda-eyed, more irritable and less productive, not to mention prone to knocking over everything in the kitchen. Coffee might prop you up for the afternoon, but the best way to feel better is to get a good night’s kip.