March is 'National Bed Month', and if you're not getting enough quality sleep then it's a time to look beneath the bed sheets and understand that feeling healthy begins with a good night's sleep.
According to The Sleep Council, replacing your mattress can make for a more comfortable night's sleep, especially if you've had it for several years, so now could be the time to invest in a new one.
It's difficult to get quality sleep if you're sleeping on lumpy mattresses or coping with a less than optimum sleeping environment, as this makes it difficult to relax and unwind.
Here are just some of the ways you can guarantee yourself a good night's sleep.
By going to bed at a set time every night you get your body clock in a routine that ensures you will fall asleep and wake up easily. The trick is to go to sleep when you feel tired and avoid staying up late.
If possible try and avoid watching television, playing games or browsing online as all of these activities can keep you 'wired', revving up the electrical activity in your brain and making it difficult to relax. The 'glow' provided from electronics passes through the retina into the hypothalamus, delaying the release of melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep.
This is vital if you want to have a soothing night's sleep. This might mean having a warm duvet to slip under, playing some chill-out music such as the sound of ocean waves or reading a book before you get some much needed shut-eye.
If you're taking in stimulants such as nicotine, caffeine and alcohol before going to sleep it can unsettle you and keep you up late. All of these substances can affect the quality of your sleep as well, making it difficult to slip into deep sleep.
A study published in The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that the influence of daily exercise on sleep habits is more convoluted than many of us might expect. Researchers looked at volunteers who were inactive or doing a moderate exercise program of three or four 30 minute exercise sessions a week. The results showed that 'volunteers in the exercise group slept more soundly and for an average of 45 minutes to an hour longer most nights, waking up less often and reporting less sleepiness.'
It doesn't help your mind to settle and can make you feel more stressed out as you realise how much work you have left to do. A good quality night's sleep starts with being well rested and allocating tasks to certain times of the day. Choose activities such as reading a book or having a warm bath rather than pushing yourself to finish a work deadline before midnight, as this can create too much mental tension before sleeping.