A good day starts with a good night’s sleep. It’s an essential element of the good physical and mental health you need to live life to the full. Getting enough quality sleep helps you make better decisions, control your emotions and cope with change.

Sleep protects you from the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and strokes. It powers up your ability to repair body tissues, grow muscles and make hormones. In deep sleep, rhythmic waves of fluid wash waste products out of your brain. In other words, high-quality sleep is vital for your health and wellbeing.

Tips for quality shuteye

  • Get out in daylight early in the day
  • Keep a consistent bedtime and wake up time, even at the weekend or if you feel that you slept badly
  • Aim to keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet
  • Slow, relaxing music can help you drop off
  • Blue light disrupts your sleep/wake cycle. Dim room lights and put technology away at least an hour before bedtime
  • Cooling down after a warm shower or bath helps you to feel sleepy
  • Drink wisely. Cut caffeine out after lunch and try to avoid alcohol
  • Camomile tea can help you sleep. Avoid drinking too close to bedtime to prevent a nocturnal toilet trip
  • Experiment with a heavy blanket (so long as you don’t have conditions that make breathing difficult)
  • Eat a kiwi fruit to feed your friendly gut bacteria or take a probiotic drink – find out why below!

Restless leg syndrome

People with Restless leg syndrome (RLS) experience a crawling, uncomfortable sensation with an overwhelming urge to move their legs. While symptoms can present at any time, many people find that they’re worse in the evening and at night.

These tips might help if RLS is getting in the way of sleep:

  • Check with your doctor if RLS is a side effect of any medications or any existing health conditions
  • Ask for a blood test to check your iron and vitamin D levels
  • Move more. Studies show that regular, moderate exercise, including yoga and stretching, can help
  • Treat yourself to a massage to improve lymph flow and help you to relax

Eat your way to better sleep

You gut contains trillions of beneficial bacteria and micro-organisms called your ‘microbiome’. A diverse microbiome is linked to better sleep. The BBC programme ‘The Truth About Sleep’ reported on research which shows that feeding good bacteria with prebiotics like vegetables or fruit or taking probiotics that contain good bacteria improve sleep quality.