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Top 10 sleep tips

Enjoying a truly good night’s sleep is extremely important for both the mind and body. The ability to relax completely, rest your mind, and allow your body to rejuvenate will improve your overall wellbeing. If you do not feel you are achieving this, you may need to make one or more small changes from the list below, to give yourself a better chance. A small change can make a big difference.

1. Create the right sleeping environment
2. Sleep in comfort
3. Exercise and relax your body
4. Relax your mind
5. Sleep at the right time
6. Do not smoke
7. Cut down on alcohol
8. Cut down on caffeine
9. Watch what you eat
10. Change your lifestyle

Create the right sleeping environment

Bedroom
Your bedroom should be reserved for rest and sleep, so avoid turning it into a second living room.

Darkness
It is much easier to sleep, and to remain asleep, when the room is dark. Fit black out blinds or curtains to avoid the morning sun waking you up early.

Temperature
Keeping the room at the correct temperature is essential for a good nights sleep. Avoid excessive heat and try to use 100% natural bedding sheets, blankets and duvets to avoid overheating (especially in the summer).

Noise and stimulation
It is best to avoid having televisions or computers in a bedroom. If this is not practical, then avoid using them immediately prior to going to sleep. (See the exercise and relax your body section).

Sleep in comfort

Firmness
Avoid choosing a mattress that is too firm or too soft, a medium firmness mattress is ideal as long as it offers a good level of support.

Type of Mattress
Good quality foam or memory foam mattresses tend to offer both comfort and support, and can last for many years without deteriorating.

Size
Choose the largest bed you have the space for or opt for separate beds. Being disturbed by a partner is one of the most common interruptions to a good nights sleep.

Change regularly
You spend 8 hours a day, or a third of your life in bed, so your mattress gets a lot of use. Change your mattress every 8 -10 years.

Choose correctly
This may be obvious, but all too often people see a bed or mattress as a ‘cost’ not an ‘investment’. Buying the cheapest bed or mattress instead of the best you can afford may turn out to be a fools economy.

Exercise and relax your body

Exercise
Regular exercise such as swimming or walking is good for overall health and fitness. It also helps to relieve the days stresses and strains, allowing your body to relax and prepare for a good night’s sleep. Try to avoid high intensity exercise too close to bedtime, as it may take you longer to get to sleep.

Relax your body
Try to relax before going to bed, a warm bath, listen to some quiet, soothing music or do some yoga.

Relax you mind

Clear your mind
When your mind continues to deal with the worries of the day or the workload of tomorrow, it can be very difficult to get to sleep quickly, if at all. Keep a pen and paper by your bed, and write down a list of any problems or tasks that are on your mind. This effectively files everything away and ‘clears your desk’, allowing you to relax, knowing you are prepared for the next day.

Sleep at the right time

Routine
By going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time, all the time, your body and mind will thank you for it. Your body likes routine; it will settle into a routine and adjust your body clock accordingly.

Avoid over-sleeping or having a lie in
If you have not slept well, resist the urge to have a lie-in or sleep longer than normal. Getting up at the ‘normal’ time keeps your body clock in time, and resisting the urge to lie-in will pay dividends in alertness.

Napping
It is quite natural to have a dip in alertness between 2 - 4pm and taking a 15 minute nap can be a very effective way of staying alert throughout the day. Avoid napping for any longer than 20 minutes as after this you will enter a deep sleep and feel even worse when you wake up

Don’t smoke

Smoking
Yes, it's bad for sleep too: smokers take longer to fall asleep, wake more often and often experience more sleep disruption.

Cut down on alcohol

Alcohol
Yes, alcohol is also bad for sleep too: Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it encourages you to urinate (never welcome during the night). A small nightcap is fine, but too much alcohol can play havoc with sleep patterns. It may help you fall asleep initially, but it will make you restless which will prevent deep sleep.

Cut down on caffeine

Caffeine
Yes, caffeine joins the list as well: Drinking tea or coffee (both of which are stimulants) especially in the evening, will interfere with falling asleep and prevent deep sleep.

Alternatives
Have a hot milky drink or herbal tea instead.

Watch what you eat

Last meal of the day
Avoid eating a heavy meal too close to bedtime

Spicy or fatty foods
Avoid spicy or fatty foods as they may cause heartburn, which leads to difficulty in falling asleep and discomfort during the night.

Food stimulants
Foods containing Tyramine (bacon, cheese, ham, aubergines, pepperoni, raspberries avocado, nuts, soy sauce, red wine) might keep you awake at night. Tyramine causes the release of Norepinephrine, a brain stimulant.

Good food
If you get the munchies close to bedtime, eat something that triggers the hormone serotonin, which makes you sleepy. Carbohydrates such as bread, or cereal will do the trick.

Change your lifestyle

Positive changes
Try some of the lifestyle changes above; make a positive change to the way you look after body during the day, your body will reward you with a relaxing and enjoyable sleep during the night.

See a doctor if the problem continues

Please sleep well, but at the same time, Sleepcheaper!

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