The Science Behind A Good Night's Sleep?
06 March 2017
We've teamed up with Dr. Idzikowski to create the 'Good Sleep Guide' which includes an exclusive range of tips to help you get the best possible night's sleep. From the principles of sleep to basic sleep science, this report will help you de-clutter your room and your mind to help you get the best night's sleep.
About Dr Idzikowski:
The author of many books on sleep, including the upcoming 'Sound Asleep: The Expert Guide to Sleeping Well', Chris is one of the leading UK sleep experts.He has help many honorary appointments, both health authority (Oxford) and University (e.g Queen's University of Belfast, Visiting Professor, Surrey University) he has also contributed to various sleep-related charitable organisations (e.g Finland's Unettomat) as well as publishing numerous papers and books on sleep.
Before we even reach the bed, we should consider two key areas of thought:
Our genetic makeup has a strong influence on whether we tend to be like 'owls' or 'larks', but light has an impact on both types. Dawn Light tends to make one 'larkish', whereas less light makes one 'owlish'.
A south-eastward facing bedroom will get the light from sunrise first, helping to normalise these among us who are owls, but it could make the larks worse.
Direction of the bedroom is all important and you should consider which rooms you sleep in, based on the light in the room when you go to sleep and wake up. If you're a light sleeper, you should consider a quality set of curtains for your bedroom.
Don't block all the light out though. Choose curtains with a material density that helps darken the room at night but lets in light in the morning. This will help you sleep and wake to the natural light/dark circle created by the sun.
Harry Corry has a variety styles of curtains that would help darken the room at night while letting enough light in as the sun rises, including the Havana Grey Eyelet Curtains (from £39/€49), Aston Mink Eyelet Curtains (from £39/€59) and Alderley Teal Eyelet Curtains (£39/€49)
You should be relaxed and leave the day's problems behind when you go to your bedroom. The bedroom should be your private sanctuary.
If you can't leave them behind then don't go to be worrying about the day, or consulting your smartphone, iPad, Kindle, etc- those should be used as meditation or relaxing devices, not devices that continue the working day into what should be night-time rest.
Create rituals that are associated with winding down and that are associated with going to bed and going to sleep.
Use a yoga mat and relax, or sit in front of a dressing table, use something to create a firebrake between the day's activities and sleep.
How long you sleep is mainly controlled by your genes and by how long you've previously been awake.
Whilst sleep medics might advocate 8 hours sleep a night, anywhere between 5.5-9.5 hours sleep is normal (sorry if you're a 9.5 hour sleeper, no one will believe you need that much!).
When you sleep is partly driven by your genes. The majority of people, irrespective of the season or where they are in the world, will adapt to sleeping though the night.
This timing is controlled by the brain's biological clock and that is most affected by light, particularly dawn light.
So: 1) previous time awake, and 2) biological clock time are the two main internal factors that control sleep. The rest depends on your mental state and the environment.
1) Avoid caffeine & nicotine
Caffeine either in coffee, cola and other foodstuffs causes alertness and prevents sleep. People vary as to how they react to caffeine, and they vary over life with periods when they are less sensitive or more sensitive. Nicotine in cigarettes is a stimulant and smokers can also get withdrawal effects during the night!
2) Avoid alcohol
Whilst a small dose of alcohol can help sleep onset, it will disturb sleep later in the night. Alcohol also increases snoring.
3) Eat a healthy, balanced diet
There are no specific nutrients that will definitely aid sleep. But a lack of many minerals, vitamins and other constituents of food will adversely affect sleep, so it's best to eat a healthy and balanced diet.
4) Use the bed only for sleeping
For the 'weak' sleeper, doing lots of wakeful things in bed conditions the brain into remaining in 'wakeful' mode. If the bed is used solely for sleep the the brain gets used to the idea that is where sleep happens.
5) A hot bath 1-2 hours before bed
The brain tries to reduce its and the body's temperature at the onset of sleep and for the first 4-5 hours of sleep. If it can't do that then it tends to wake itself up to find out why. A hot bath prior to bed can be relaxing, but it also opens up peripheral blood vessels and improves the circulation- that helps release heat once in bed, distracting you from sleep.
6) Don't clock watch
If sleep is becoming a problem and you watch the clock to see how much you sleep, this can create anxiety which itself will prevent sleep.
7) Optimise your bedroom environment
Get the lighting, temperature and noise variables sorted out. De-clutter and make sure that your curtains, pillows and duvet covers suit your temperament.
It also means that irritations like clutter, or distractions that might cause wakefulness are not present. Harry Corry stocks a leading range of anti allergy pillows, quilts and mattress protectors.
The Medibed Breatheasy Pillow (£7.49/€10.50), 10.5 Tog Medibed Anti-Allergy Duvet (£16.19/€22.50) and Anti- Allergy Quilted Mattress Protector (£9.99/€13) would make excellent additions to any allergy sufferer's bedroom.
Light is made of a spectrum of colour, including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.
2. We take in lots of light colours during the day, but the two main colours of light that have an impact on our brains in relation to sleep are blue light and red light.
3. Research in the past 10 years has shown that blue light, on the blue side of the spectrum, has a particular effect on the 'biological clock' in the brain. Blue light resets the brains's biological clock on the new day.
4. Red light increased as the day goes on, causing the brain to start compensating for the lack of blue light by becoming more wakeful. This process occurs until shortly before sleep, when the dimming light encourages the brain to wind down. If all the conditions are right, this will cause you to fall asleep.
5. At dawn, provided your face is not buried in the pillow or under the duvet, enough light gets through the eyelids to signal the brain that a new day has begun.
Some bedroom disharmony can arise between couples over temperatures, with 'fresh air fanatics' at one extreme and 'Sahara seekers' on the other.
'Fresh air fanatics' are those who enjoy sleeping in a colder room with fresh air circulating during the night, while 'sahara seekers' are those who prefer the comfort of lots of heat during the night through radiator, extra blankets etc.
Whilst it's not possible to divide the room temperature in two, it is possible to have duvets that have different tog ratings to suit the individual.
Harry Corry's leading range of duvets cater for sleepers of all temperatures, from Microfibre 15 Tog Duvet (from £17.24/€24) to the lighter 4.5 Tog Microfibre Duvet (now from £12.99/€18), there are choices for everyone. Sales assistants at Harry Corry can help you choose the duvet that's right for you.
For adults, sleeping on our back tends to be the worst position for many sleep disorders (for example snoring, breath holding, sleep paralysis), but is preferred by many.
On the whole, irrespective of position, one pillow make sense for the majority of average health and stature.
The best pillow may either be hard or soft depending on your preference. there is not standard softness- it's all personal choice. It is worth your while experimenting and discovering the best pillow for you.
Remember that pillows do not last forever, so depending on the manufacturer's instructions should be replaced every 1-2 years.
Harry Corry stocks a wide range of pillows for sleepers of all preferences. These include the Duck Feather Twin Pack Pillows (from £14.99/€19), Medibed Breatheasy Pillow (From £7.49/€10.50) and a Memory Foam Pillow (from £14.99/€20)
Whilst duvets have an effect on body temperature and moisture, duvet covers are a much more personal preference. Whatever is soothing to the mind is most appropriate.
The last thing you want to do is settle down for the night, walk in to the bedroom and discover that duvet is adorned with the football colours of a team you don't support!
A range of duvet covers are available at Harry Corry, from Boston Fuchsia & Pink Duvet Set (From £6.99/€10) for bright bedrooms to a more subtle Romance Champagne Bed In a Bag (From £7/€10) for neutral colours, over 150 choices are available online and in-store.
The following are three of the most important feng shui considerations when laying out a bedroom.
1. Position you bed-head against a solid wall, but don't hang anything above your bed. You should be able to lie in bed and see beyond your bedroom door. this will hep you feel more secure.
Try not to face the door though. Some feng shui experts call feet pointing towards the door 'the death position'. If you have more than one door in your bedroom, try to position your bed so that it's not in line with any of them.
2. Make sure your mattress is raised off the floor on a bed frame and has space under and on either side of it. In Chinese terms, this allows qi energy to flow around and under the bed freely.
Have a plant in your bedroom. Nature has a calming effect on the mind and body(just looking at nature can lower blood pressure). However, don't forget to water it! An unhealthy plant creates an unhappy environment.
3. If you're hopeless with plants, choose a picture of a nature scene. A forest, flower or a beautiful garden would all make great pictures to hang in your bedroom.
Harry Corry stocks a range of wall art that would make a perfect bedroom accompaniment, including Island Dune Framed Print (£14.99/€19), Cherry Grove Framed Wall Art (£24.99/€32),The Golden Surge Framed Print (£34.99/€44.99)