Who doesn’t love a good night’s sleep? Waking up recharged, refreshed and ready to go must be one of Mother Nature’s best-ever gifts. And it’s free. Really, how often does something that good not come with a big price tag?

Sleep yourself healthy

Sleep is one of the most important factors when it comes to looking after our physical and mental health and it pays to create the perfect atmosphere to sleep in. Investing in a good quality mattress will support your body and promote proper spinal alignment, prevent stiff joints and aches and pains in your back and neck.

But it gets better. Scientists also believe that the recommended eight hours of nightly sleep can also help keep us healthy by warding off all kinds of illnesses. From Alzheimer’s disease to heart attacks and even cancer – as well as psychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety – sleep is our first line of defence.

What do the experts say?

According to Chris Brantner, Certified Sleep Science Coach at SleepZoo.com, “by getting less than eight hours sleep, you’re impairing your ability to think clearly, be productive, and problem solve on a daily basis. It can also have a direct (negative) effect on your willpower.”

But a lack of sleep can have a greater impact than that. “Too little sleep has been linked to increased risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, depression, anxiety… you name it. People’s lifestyles may be changing but make no mistake – we’re not evolving to be able to handle less sleep.”

So sleep, it seems, influences every aspect of our waking life, from our personal health to the way we work and even eat. And yet, next to exercise and diet, sleep is often overlooked in the wellbeing mix.

The reason why many experts think, is due to the environment we live in these days. Our fast-paced, always-on lifestyle often means that sleep isn’t given the priority treatment it deserves. Quite often we become victims to sleep-loss without even realising why it’s happening.

Lights out

Take artificial light for instance. The permanently illuminated world we live in – both outdoors and indoors – tricks our brains into thinking it’s day time all the time. In such an active state, our natural sleep patterns which have been established over many thousands of years, become disrupted. Throw LED light from tablets, phones and laptops into the mix and you’ve got a recipe for sleep loss right there.

Don’t even get us started on over-heated rooms, caffeine or a ‘nightcap before bed’. Suffice to say, they all combine to take us ever further away from our natural sleep rhythm.

Get to know the seven sleep secrets

So what can we do about it? After all, the last thing anyone needs is to lose sleep over not sleeping. The good news is there are at least seven proven steps that can make a real difference to the way we approach our night time ritual and achieve the magical eight-hour goal.

1. Take time to wind down

Even before you go to bed, do relaxing stuff away from a screen. Read a book, listen to music, take a bath. Perhaps all three if you can manage it. Make it a nightly ritual and see it as part of shaking off the day.

2. Sort a to-do list

Instead of checking you emails last thing at night (and we all know where that can lead) try listing out what you need to do the following day. Tests have shown that by doing so, you unburden your mind from stressing about the next day, allowing it to get on with the important business of snoozing. In fact, it was discovered that a more detailed list led to faster drop off times.

3. Get your room right

What distracts you when you sleep? Whether it’s alerts on your smartphone or light through the curtains, get it put right sooner rather than later. You need your room to ideally be dark, cool and quiet for your perfect night’s sleep. You’ll find we’ve plenty of bedroom storage solutions to help create a calm and soothing space.

4. Set a routine

We’re creatures of habit at heart, so make sure you set a routine for yourself by going to bed and getting up at a set time. And remember, making up for lost sleep at weekends isn’t a solution either as this creates an even more irregular sleeping pattern, making Monday morning even more manic than normal.

5. Watch what you eat and drink

We all know that caffeine keeps you awake – but did you know that even a mid-afternoon coffee could still kick in come bed time? That late-in-the-day latte takes up to eight hours to wear off. Also look out for hidden caffeine in fizzy drinks and teas – and try avoiding heavy meals that could give you sleep-disrupting indigestion. Likewise, that nightcap might help you drop-off quicker but could lead to a broken night’s slumber.

6. Soak up some sun

Easier said than done on a cold January morning! But even when the sun’s not shining, it’s important to get outside for at least 30 minutes a day and catch some natural daylight. Sleep experts believe it’s a key factor in helping you get the right amount of shuteye each night.

7. Get comfy

If you’re waking up with aches or feel like you’ve gone a couple of rounds with Anthony Joshua when you greet the morning, it could be your mattress is due for a change. Ideally, you should do this every seven to eight years. In truth, most of us get and then forget one of the most important items in our home. Thankfully, here at Barker and Stonehouse, we have an amazing range of super supportive mattresses for you to fall back on.

So there you have it. The secret’s out. If you need more inspiration for a great night’s sleep, don’t forget to look at our bedroom furniture collection for the complete A to Zzzzz of beds.