How to get a good night’s sleep
Follow our expert tips on how to organise your bedroom, reduce anxiety and get a great night’s sleep
Sleeping well is a priority on a good day, let alone while we’re dealing with the current levels of stress and worry. All the factors which normally contribute to sleepless nights – work, home, health, external pressures on our everyday lives – are being amplified right now and it’s difficult to shut down the background noise, put down our phones (whose blue light also keeps us awake) and switch off.
There’s plenty of help out there, such as online meditation and sleep apps, but you can also aid your rest by making sure your immediate environment is as conducive to sleep as possible. Here are some guidelines to get yourself – and your space – ready for bed.
Slow down and breathe
Mindfulness advocates have, for years, been promoting the benefits of slowing down and practising meditation or breathwork before you even attempt to go to bed. Simply taking a couple of long, deep breaths before your head hits the pillow will instantly calm your nervous system, relax your mind and help you switch off from the day you’ve had.
‘We all have different sleep needs,’ explains Mark Cropley, professor of health psychology at the University of Surrey. ‘The key is to identify what is right for you.’
Taking the time to relax, put your phone away and turn your home into a calm sanctuary a few hours before bed will do wonders for your sleep patterns, too. Dim the lights, put on a diffuser, light a couple of candles, pop some calming music on or even use a mindful colouring book to calm you. ‘It doesn’t really matter what the order is, so long as you follow the same order every night,’ Mark explains.
If none of this helps and you still find yourself lying wide awake, take the advice of professor Colin Espie from the Mental Health Foundation. ‘If you’re finding it difficult to get to sleep, don’t just lie there worrying,’ he says. ‘Get up for a few minutes and get a drink (no sugar or caffeine, remember!), and go back to bed when you’re feeling a bit sleepier.’
‘Often people can’t get to sleep because their mind is racing,’ Mark continues. ‘Most often this is due to an unfinished task, an argument, or something to do with your work day. It’s key to remember that you cannot deal with these issues in bed. Try “parking that thought”: if something is playing on your mind, tell yourself that you can’t deal with it right now. Don’t force it out of your mind, but just park it for now. Writing the thought down can also help.’
Clear the clutter
A calm, clutter-free space is key to helping you wind down at the end of a stressful day. If you don’t know where to start, professional organiser and declutterer, Chloë Howat recommends tackling your bedside table first. ‘It’s the last thing you see before switching off the lights and the first thing when you open your eyes, so it needs to make you feel good. All you really need to keep here are items you use when you’re in bed.’
Taking a look at what is kept in your bedroom is the next step. ‘Make sure everything has a home. Categorise items by type – beauty, electricals, books and so on. Then think about how you use the room. Each category should be stored in a location that makes it easy to use. If you’re struggling to find a logical place to store something, then it probably doesn’t belong in your bedroom!'
Once rogue items have been cleared from the sleep space, make sure you’ve got the right storage. ‘I love an Ottoman bed, especially in smaller rooms where it’s not easy to access divan bed drawers,’ Chloe advises. ‘Slim, velvet hangers are a great way to make the most of wardrobe space, without having clothes slipping onto the floor. Drawer dividers are another favourite – compartmentalising large spaces will help you keep them organised.’
Give windows the blackout treatment
Light pollution can significantly affect how soundly you’ll sleep and blinds are a boon for counteracting this. ‘If you’re using a roller blind, it’s best to fix it inside the window recess if possible,’ Kerry Nicholls, Partner & Buyer, Window Decor & Fabrics tells us. ‘Then re-roll the blind so the fabric runs behind the top tube, as close to the window as possible, rather than over the top towards the room. The look can be softened with a Roman blind or curtains over the recess.’
If you’re really serious about not one ray of light coming into the room, blackout blinds which are fitted directly into the window frame completely shut out all light. ‘Blackout blinds are great for parents of young children or shift workers who may value a total blackout for a better night’s sleep,’ Kerry confirms.
Light it right
The correct lighting helps regulate your circadian rhythm, and can signal to your body that it’s time to wind down and sleep.
Embrace a key principle of lighting design, and ‘layer’ the light in your bedroom. Partner & Lighting Designer July Lin says, ‘Two types of lights to layer a bedroom should be enough to create a restful effect. A pendant with a shade to diffuse the light will give a soft glow. Choose a dimmable light and bulb – Phlilips Hue or Hive – to help the evening wind down. Your second layer should be an ambient light such as a table or floor lamp with an adjustable head. A table lamp is great for reading, plus, because of the adjustable feature, you can turn the head to face the wall to create a soft, indirect glow, ideal for relaxation.’
Pick the right mattress
Your mattress is arguably the most important component of a good night’s sleep. ‘Comfort is key, and how comfortable a mattress feels to you will depend on factors such as height, weight and age,’ Annie Bashier, Partner & Assistant Buyer Beds & Bedroom Furniture tells us. It’s important to note, the old adage that firmer is better is not in fact, true. ‘Firm isn’t always best, especially if you’re a smaller build.’
A general rule of thumb is the lighter your build, the softer your mattress should be, so that the mattress contours to your body shape. The larger your build, the firmer your mattress should be as you need more support.
Another thing to watch out for when choosing a mattress is the base of your bed. ‘Laying your mattress on a solid divan base can give a slightly firmer feel.’ Annie says. If you’re after that more sink-in, sumptuous feel, a pocket sprung divan base or sprung slatted bedstead will give you a little extra bounce.
Use our mattress buying guide to find your perfect mattress match.
Find your best bedding and pillows
Duvets come in either natural or synthetic fill, and each has its own advantages. ‘Natural duvets are generally soft and lightweight, and allow your skin to breathe, so you’ll stay warm with hardly any weight,’ says Unna Patel, Partner & Bedding Buyer. ‘As well as feather and down options, we stock cotton, silk, wool and bamboo for those who may have allergies or who would prefer a vegan option. These are also hypoallergenic and help regulate body temperature.’
Natural down duvets are incredibly light and warm, however if you prefer to sleep with a little weight on you, but are not quite ready for a weighted blanket, consider layering your bed with a blanket or throw. For more advice on how to layer a bed, read our helpful guide.
Synthetic duvets are a great alternative to feather and down for allergy sufferers. These tend to be durable, and ideal for busy households as they can be washed and dried easily. If ease of care is a priority, our innovative coverless duvet eliminates the duvet/duvet cover wrangle when it comes to changing the bed, plus, it’s particularly easy to wash and dry.
A relatively new addition to the nation’s beds, weighted blankets are helping many people who suffer from anxiety and insomnia get a good night’s rest. ‘They can be used by anyone but they really help those who suffer from anxiety, stress and a restless night’s sleep,’ Unna says. They work their weighted magic by giving the sleeper a ‘secure’ feeling, thus promoting relaxation and making it easier to fall asleep. Choose the blanket that weighs nearest to 10% of your body weight.
When it comes to choosing a pillow, look for one that’s recommended for your specific sleep position – front, back or side. ‘Also consider the height of the pillow as your spine should remain straight when you sleep, so you don’t wake up feeling achy,’ Unna adds. So, if you’re a front sleeper for example, look for a low-profile pillow. ‘This one applies to me, and since finding my perfect pillow my sleep has improved vastly,’ Unna reveals.
For more expert advice, read our duvets and pillows buying guide.
Get your beauty sleep
Nothing in your beauty regime is as effective as a good night’s sleep. As the skin repairs itself while you’re sleeping, it’s also a good time to boost nature’s process with a special night mask or facial oil (choose from range of night treatments). However, if you have problems falling into a blissful slumber in the first place, there are also a few tried-and-trusted products to help you, including This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray, Aromatherapy & Associates Deep Relax Sleep Mist and Rodial Sleep Drops.
Use technology to help sleep tight
As well as a wealth of apps designed to help you drift off soundly, including the NHS-approved Pzizz and Sleepio, there are a host of products to help lull you to sleep, while the best-selling Lumie bodyclock helps you wake from sleep calmly.
‘Lumie wake-up lights are alarms that mimic sunrise to wake you naturally with light and avoid being jolted from sleep by a sudden alarm, setting you up to feel energised and refreshed the next day,’ explains Molly Baker, Assistant Buyer & Partner, Lighting. ‘Some models can also prepare your body for sleep using a specific warm light sunset mode. They have been clinically proven to improve the quality of sleep and awakening as well as boosting mood and energy.’