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According to the National Sleep Foundation, there are six signs of a healthy night’s sleep. These include:
- You fall asleep within 15-20 minutes of lying down to sleep.
- You regularly sleep a total of seven to nine hours in a 24-hour period.
- While in your bed, your sleep is continuous — you don’t have long periods of lying awake when you wish to be sleeping.
- You wake up feeling refreshed, as if you’ve “filled the tank.”
- You feel alert and are able to be fully productive throughout the waking hours (note, it’s natural for people to feel a dip in alertness during waking hours, but with healthy sleep, alertness returns).
- Your partner or family members do not notice any disturbing or out of the ordinary behaviour from you while you sleep, such as snoring, pauses in breathing, restlessness, or otherwise nighttime behaviours.
How do you stack up? Not well? Then read on...
According to the NHS, there are various steps people can take improve a night’s sleep.
First and foremost, you should keep regular sleeping hours: “This programmes the brain and internal body clock to get used to a set routine. “Most adults need between six and nine hours of sleep every night. By working out what time you need to wake up, you can set a regular bedtime schedule.”
They also recommend finding ways to wind down. These include:
- A warm bath (not hot) will help your body reach a temperature that's ideal for rest.
- Writing "to do" lists for the next day can organise your thoughts and clear your mind of any distractions.
- Relaxation exercises, such as light yoga stretches, help to relax the muscles. Don't exercise vigorously, as it will have the opposite effect.
- Relaxation CDs work by using a carefully narrated script, gentle hypnotic music and sound effects to relax you.
- Reading a book or listening to the radio relaxes the mind by distracting it.
And lastly, don't forget the important role your bed, mattress and bedding play in a great night's sleep.
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