The arrival of spring – and the prospect of summer on the horizon – is normally something to be happy about. Better weather (well, mostly) gives us the chance to get outside, enjoy the great outdoors and finally move away from the winter wardrobe… and also turn that expensive central heating down.
But for many people, the lighter mornings and warmer nights can mean that getting forty winks is harder than ever.
Sleep is a big issue in the UK. According to one study we’re actually the worst sleepers in the world while separate research found that fewer than a third of us are happy about the amount of sleep we get. It’s perhaps no wonder given the wildly different seasons we have here. We go from frosty mornings to flinging back the covers within a matter of days. Countries that experience the extreme cold or warm gear up their homes to cater for their climate – we end up struggling with both ends of the spectrum.
It’s no trivial matter either. Bad sleep contributes to a great many issues with both physical and mental health. So, how do you cope? There’s a few things to weigh up this spring/summer if you’re to avoid a lack of sleep.
Your bedding should be one of the first things that you address. There’s two things to consider here – hygiene and warmth.
The hygiene point stands regardless of the season – ensuring that you regularly change and replace your bedding will help you to relax. It’s thought that you ought to do this once a week – but for many people this happens once a month or even less.
Then there’s the issue of warmth. Don’t try to carry on with that thick winter duvet. If you do, you’ll only regret it in the middle of the night when you wake up in a hot sweat.
Your duvet will have a ‘tog rating’ to reflect how thick it is. While in the winter you’re looking to be nice and toasty beneath a 13.5 tog duvet, you don’t need that extra warmth so much in the spring or summer. A 10.5 tog duvet is great in the spring and autumn, while a 7.5 tog is a perfect lighter duvet in the summer (with a 4.5 tog for the warm blooded among us). Switching a duvet is a simple but effective way to boost your chances of getting a good night’s sleep in warmer months.
Speaking of warmth, you can also let some cool air into your bedroom by opening the windows. However, while this might sound straightforward, throwing your windows open does create its own issues.
Firstly, people in some parts of the country might well be worried about letting bugs and flies in which may disturb their sleep. There’s nothing more annoying than the high pitched hum of a pesky little gnat – and no-one wants to wake up itching after being bitten in the night. If that’s an issue for you, why not consider investing in a mesh net screen for your window? It could keep the air flowing and the bugs out.
Meanwhile, many of us also suffer from hayfever and opening a window might just seem like a dangerous invitation to the pollen to come on in and make your life a misery. If that’s an issue, then you might want to invest in a fan instead and keep those windows closed. It’s also important to wash your face before you get into bed to get rid of any pollen grains that could be stuck in your hair, eyebrows or eyes.
Many people struggle to stay asleep once it has got light and that can be a real issue at this time of year. Sunrise on the longest day is before 5am, but it’s unlikely that you’re going to want to drag yourself out of bed at that hour.
To keep the sunshine at bay until you’re good and ready to see it, you need to invest in the right curtains. Look for blackout or dim out linings on sites such as Curtains.com so that you can control the level of light getting into your room.
There are many bad habits we can slip into that have an impact on our ability to get a good night’s sleep. That last glass of wine in the garden on a balmy summer’s evening? That binge-watch Netflix marathon into the wee small hours? Scrolling Facebook pictures of your friend’s holiday? None of those are going to help. Alcohol and caffeine are especially bad when it comes to getting your brain to relax.
Set yourself a time that you’d ideally like to be in bed by and stick to this, wherever possible. Leave your phone downstairs or, if you need it to be your alarm, close your social media apps and place your phone face down on your bedside table so that you can’t see any messages pop up on your screen.
But technology isn’t all bad. There are an increasing number of apps on the market that aim to help you get a good night’s sleep – many of which can monitor your sleep patterns and give you data that can help you to develop better habits.
Have a move around
Don’t be afraid to do something drastic. If you are really struggling to get the heat and light right in your room then you might need to have a re-think about the way your room is laid out. Could you move the bed so that you benefit from the fresh air coming in through the window, perhaps? Trying something new is much better than suffering in silence.