This year’s World Sleep Day falls on 19th March and celebrates ‘Regular Sleep, Healthy Future’.
We explore what this means in terms of sleep advice and how our bedding and sleep habits contribute to our physical and mental wellbeing.
Every year the World Sleep Society organises World Sleep Day to focus on a different aspect of sleep to help educate us about how important sleep is and how we can sleep better. Their advice is based on the latest global, medical research and aims to lessen sleep burdens on society – in other words, reducing sleep disorders and sleep problems and how they affect people’s lives.
This year’s World Sleep Day falls on 19th March and celebrates ‘Regular Sleep, Healthy Future’. It’s not a random date but is held at this time of year for a very good reason. It’s the Friday before the Spring Equinox – the official start of Spring and the weekend the clocks go forward and we all get an hour less sleep
An hour less sleep on just one night of course is something our bodies can manage, however the long-term impact of ‘sleep poverty’ is what is important, as is establishing regular sleep habits. Good sleep and good health go hand in hand, say the World Sleep Society, with poor sleep leading to a range of issues from weight gain, to depression, anxiety, memory loss, poorer academic performance in children, lower cognitive (brain) function in adults and possibly contributing to diseases later in life such as alzheimers.
It’s not just the amount of sleep that is important, apparently a regular bedtime and waketime help and trying to have less interrupted sleep also contribute to our physical and mental health.
Dr Lourdes DelRosso, MD, MS, Associate Sleep Medicine Fellowship Director at the University of Washington, and co-chair of World Sleep Day explains, “We know that regulating the time you go to sleep and wake up each day is associated with better sleep quality and length. Regular sleep is a great way to start off each day in a healthy way—paving the way for a healthier future.”
In our article on Pillow Advisor – Coping with an Hour’s Less Sleep, we explored the effect of springtime sleep deprivation and our circadian rhythms. But actually, the time-shift and exposure to more natural light from this time of year onwards can help us achieve better sleep, particularly if we’ve established bad habits during lockdown. Going to bed too late, taking naps in the day, not getting enough exercise or having too much alcohol or screen-exposure close to bedtime are all tendencies which don’t help our sleep.
“We can apply the following principles to achieve regular sleep,” says Professor Fang Han, MD of The Sleep Center, Peking University People’s Hospital in Beijing. “First, exposure to natural daylight helps set the body clock. Second, building more activity into everyday life and keeping regular exercise. Third, switching off fully before bedtime will allow for relaxation. Finally, having positive emotions will help with a better overall health and wellbeing, as well as good sleep.”
That all sounds logical, but how can we at Duvet Advisor contribute to helping with ‘regular sleep’?
Two Top Tips for Better Sleep? Comfortable Bedding & Temperature
Ensuring that your bedding and bedroom are conducive to forming good sleep habits is a very sensible idea. “It is easier to achieve regular sleep when we set ourselves up for success,” explains Michael A. Grandner, PhD, MTR. “Budgeting sufficient time to wind down and detach is critical for being able to initiate sleep.” As is “maintaining good stimulus control” and “inoculating against night-time disturbances” – these “will help in the search for regular sleep.”
Having a comfortable sleeping environment and ensuring that you have ‘set yourself up for success’ are obvious measures that you can take. Practical solutions would be to make sure that your mattress is comfortable – use a supportive, yet soft mattress topper if you can’t afford a better mattress. This can make an enormous difference if you’re turning or moving frequently in bed due to hip or back discomfort. Each time you experience discomfort you are interrupting your deep sleep and moving, and especially turning over makes that significantly worse.
Your pillow is also essential to get right. We discuss ‘how to find your perfect pillow’ at length on our sister site, Pillow Advisor. It’s a journey that we’ve been on for over a decade and it’s a very personal choice, but a bad pillow can cause significant sleep disturbance so it’s worth sorting. You want that REM sleep for good brain development and cognitive functioning!
Finally, closest to our heart is making sure that your duvet is helpful for good, deep sleep. A weightier duvet can often be more reassuring and help you drift off in the first place. Too warm (too high a tog value) or too thin (too low a tog value) for your room temperature and personal heat thermometer will also lead to restlessness as you kick off or need to pull on more covers. Choice of duvet filling contributes both to warmth and to weight, as does cover material, with synthetic fabrics tending to generate more body heat and moisture than natural ones – read our guides if you’re unsure what your preference (or budget) is. Duvet size can contribute especially if you share a bed, you may wish to invest in a larger duvet than your bed size for comfort and lack of fights! Finally – sort out your bedding if you suffer from allergies. The worst thing for your sleep is to wake up with an allergic reaction or be woken by a sneezing partner.
Ultimately, whatever decisions you take to improve your sleep are good ones. Even the tiniest change can be helpful in creating longer term habits that set you up for better sleep and a healthier future. Sleep well and live fully.