Tag: sleep

What Happens To Your Brain When You Have Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Most of us are affected by the change in seasons. We feel happier and energised when the sun is shining and the days are long and we feel leaden and grey like the winter skies, our dark mood compounded by leaving for work and returning home again in deep darkness. At one end of the spectrum are the ‘winter blues’ or ‘sub-syndromal SAD’, common to many of us during these months, but for those who experience Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, the change in the seasons and reduced exposure to sunlight has a much greater impact on their mental health.

What is SAD?

SAD is a recognised mental health disorder; ‘a form of depression experienced during winter’, according to the UK charity MIND. In the UK, one in 15 people are affected by SAD.

SAD is most common the further away from the Equator you live; countries with extreme changes in the seasons and daylight hours like the UK and Scandinavia.

What are the symptoms?

SAD has many different symptoms. You do not need all of them to be experiencing SAD. If a doctor gives you a diagnosis of SAD, it is likely to be because you have been experiencing a number of these symptoms in the same season for at least two or three years:

  • Lack of energy for everyday tasks, such as studying or going to work;

  • Concentration problems;

  • Sleep problems, such as sleeping for longer than usual or not being able to get to sleep;

  • Depression – feeling sad, low, tearful, guilty, like you have let others or yourself down; sometimes feeling hopeless and despairing, sometimes apathetic and feeling nothing.

  • Anxiety, irritation and inability to cope with everyday stresses;

  • Overeating, particularly ‘comfort eating’ or snacking more than usual;

  • Being more prone to illness – some people with SAD may have a lowered immune system during the winter, and may be more likely to get colds, infections and other illnesses.

What causes SAD?

The exact cause of SAD isn’t fully understood yet, but the main theory is that a lack of sunlight may stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus from working properly.

Even though it is the size of a pea and less than 1% of the weight of the brain, the hypothalamus has a vital role in keeping our bodies stable  and controlling mood, appetite and sleep. The hypothalamus responds to a variety of signals from the internal and external environment, including our body temperature (no matter what the outside temperature) and feelings of hunger and fullness. It also responds to stress and controls our daily body clock.

The hypothalamus transmits and responds to different brain chemicals and hormones, such as melatonin, which affects our sleep patterns and mood, and the ‘love’ drug oxytocin. Studies have shown that people with SAD also have decreased serotonin levels – the happiness chemical – during the winter months and higher levels of melatonin too, which affects sleep.

It’s also possible that some people are more genetically pre-disposed to SAD, and those who already have depression may feel a worsening of their symptoms during the winter months.

How can you treat SAD?

You and your friends and family should recognise that you can’t ‘just snap out of it’, but you can seek a diagnosis and help from your GP and you can concentrate on your own self-care to help you through this difficult time. There is no clear dividing line between the ‘winter blues’ and SAD, so these suggestions are valid for everyone.

  • Get as much natural sunlight as possible, even if it’s just a brief lunchtime walk.

  • Sit as close to natural light as you can when you’re indoors.

  • Take plenty of regular exercise, especially outdoors and in daylight.

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet and try to stave off those winter carb cravings.

  • Establish a sleep routine that involves a tech-free time and relaxing before you go to bed. Set your alarm to get up at a similar time every day.

  • Ensure your bed is as comfortable as possible. A mattress and pillows that evenly distribute weight and pressure are key to your comfort and ability to sleep and restore your body’s natural defences.

TEMPUR® was first created by NASA in the 1970s to cushion astronauts during lift off as they journeyed into space. Today, after much research and development, TEMPUR® material is used to make mattresses and pillows that evenly distribute weight and pressure, ensuring a comfortable night’s sleep. TEMPUR® offers a range of products, including mattresses, pillows, beds and accessories.

A Womb With A View: Stay In This Womb-Themed Hotel Room And Sleep Like A Baby

You can now, almost literally, sleep like a baby thanks to the designers who have created a set of London hotel rooms that resemble human wombs.

The rooms, called The Zed Rooms, within the Cuckooz Appartments in Shoreditch, come complete with muted lighting, soft pink walls and of course, cocoon-like beds inspired by “the safety and snugness of the womb”.

Each apartment includes furniture with rounded edges plus rocking chair to lull you into a relaxed state of mind.

But staying inside a replica of your mother’s insides does not come cheap, with rooms at the hotel starting at £190 per night. 

The creators took nine months to finish the rooms, which are supposedly designed to increase REM sleep. During the last weeks of pregnancy, a baby increases its consumption of REM sleep, hitting a lifetime high of 12 hours a day in the final week before birth. There will be no other moment during a person’s life when they will get such a huge volume of REM sleep.

The rooms are a collaboration between sleep technology company Simba and serviced apartments Cuckooz.

Resident sleep psychologist at Simba, Hope Bastine, said if you’ve ever noticed that you don’t sleep as well in a hotel, you’re not alone.

“Scientists recognised the ‘first night effect’ over a decade ago, where one half of the brain unconsciously acts as a ‘night watchman’ staying more alert when in unfamiliar surroundings,” she said.

“With this in mind, tapping into the emotional and physical, no stone has been left unturned trying to soothe the effects of this in the design architecture of our new cutting-edge sleep retreat.”

Each apartment also comes complete with yoga mats and meditation sessions delivered via the iPad’s Calm app. You won’t find a television or any ticking clocks, just blackout blinds and sound-absorbing curtains.

And if you work up an appetite from all that sleeping, you can sample bespoke “sleep recipes” at the hotel designed to boost yet more shut-eye, created in collaboration with Detox Kitchen.

If a night inside a womb is everything you’ve dreamed of this Christmas, the Zed Rooms are available from £190 per night. Book at reservations@cuckooz.co.uk or call 020 7481 8507 

Beautiful Christmas Bedding Sets To Keep You Warm This Winter

If there’s no corner of your house, inside or out, untouched by the Christmas spirit, why not take it up a notch with themed bedding? Snuggle down with prints of holly wreaths, reindeers, Christmas trees and elves adorning your duvet for a festive night’s rest.

Whether you’re a fan of bold colours and have an unwavering love for the Yuletide season or want to keep it low-key, there’s something for everyone in this edit of winter warming sets.

Shimmers Of Gold

Fashioned with wintery metallics decorated in a festive garland, this is the chicest bed set we’ve seen yet. Bedtime has never been so luxe.

Holly Wreath Duvet Cover And Pillowcase Set, Dunelm, £22-£39

Scandi Charm

Add a touch of Scandi-inspired charm to your room with this simple yet endearing set. It would complement a neutral interior best and comes with a contrasting reverse. 

White ‘Nordic Nights’ Bedding Set, Debenhams, £26-£45

Snowed In

Recreate a cosy ski chalet scene with this set that combines wooden floors, presents tied prettily with a bow, and a snowy font. 

Christmas Garland Duvet Cover Set, Wayfair, £14.99

Stag Do

If red, green and gold aren’t your thing, opt for this mustard yellow, stag-print set. One to use throughout the seasons, it will instantly upgrade your bedroom.

Catherine Lansfield Stag Bed Set, Next, £15-£30

Canine Companion 

Dog lovers, rejoice – you can now combine your love of Christmas with miniature sausage dogs in the cutest duvet set we’ve ever laid eyes on (that’s also reversible).

Christmas Sausage Dogs Easy Care Duvet Set, George at Asda, £12

All Things Bright And Beautiful

For a brighter colour scheme that won’t overwhelm you when you wake up, choose this Christmas tree print with a pink lined pillowcase. It’ll add a spring in your step. 

Bright Trees Bed Set, Next, £18-£33

Forest Find

Christmas trees galore – this set is one for the nature-lover, featuring different variations of festive trees in a wintery scene. 

Brushed Cotton Tree Print Duvet Set, M&CO, £35-£55

 Elf On The Shelf

Keep little ones warm over the colder months with this playful elf design in a reversible star print. It might even make them excited for bedtime. 

Winter Kids Duvet Set, Wilko, £14 

Tame And Tartan

Sumptuously soft, this red colour-way looks more expensive than it is and will complement all types of decor. It’s versatile and festive, a win-win all round.

Dorma Livingston Red Bed Linen Collection, Dunelm, £55-£75

We all work hard to earn our money – so it shouldn’t feel like hard work to spend it well. At HuffPost Finds we’ll help you find the best stuff that deserves your cash, from the ultimate lipstick to a durable iron to replace the one that broke (RIP). All our choices are completely independent but we may earn a small commission if you click a link and make a purchase.

Getting Too Much Sleep Could Be Bad For Your Health

We all know sleep deprivation is bad for our health, increasing our risk of heart disease and stroke, not to mention making us hella cranky. 

But a new study has found sleeping for longer than the recommended six to eight hours per night can also have negative health outcomes – and even early death. 

[Read More: What happens to you brain and body when you only get six hours sleep]

The study of more than 116,000 people in seven regions of the world looked at cases of heart disease, stroke and death over a period of eight years, compared to the reported sleeping times. 

People who slept a total of eight to nine hours per night had a five per cent increased risk of these negative outcomes, compared to those who slept for the recommended six to eight hours. 

And duvet lovers will be disappointed to know the more you sleep, the more the risk increases. 

People sleeping between nine and 10 hours a night had an increased risk of 17 per cent and those sleeping more than 10 hours a day had a 41 per cent increased risk. The researchers also found a nine per cent increased risk for people who slept six hours or fewer. 

Lead author of the publication, Chuangshi Wang, a PhD student at McMaster and Peking Union Medical College, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, said that given that this is an observational study, it only shows an association rather than proving a causal relationship, “We cannot say that too much sleep per se causes cardiovascular diseases,” he said. 

“However, too little sleep could be an underlying contributor to death and cases of cardiovascular disease, and too much sleep may indicate underlying conditions that increase risk.”

Professor Salim Yusuf, the principal investigator of the study, advised people who regularly sleep for more than nine hours a day to visit a doctor to check their overall health.

How To Get Through December Without Feeling Totally Broken

It’s hard to say ‘no’ to anything during December: the chocolates being passed around at work, that extra mince pie after dinner, your fifth mulled wine of the night.And while we love the excuse to eat, drink and be merry in the extre…

How The Endless Christmas Socialising Is Damaging Your Sleep

“We must meet up before Christmas”, they said. “It’ll be fun,” they said. And just like that, every other day in your calendar between now and 31 December is accounted for.

For many of us, hectic socialising is part and parcel of the festive season; it’s as Christmassy as eating mince pies, singing carols and watching ‘Love Actually’ for the 15th time on ITV2.

But an entire month of late nights, often paired with large quantities of alcohol and stodgy, sugary food, can play havoc on our bedtime routine. What is festive party-going really doing to our sleep and will we regret it all come January? 

With mulled wine a-plenty (plus the work Christmas party to get through), drinking in moderation becomes a distant memory for many of us in December. But while alcohol can help us fall asleep faster, it also reduces the quality of our sleep, according to Alasdair Henry PhD, a researcher at Sleepio.  

“During the first half of the night as alcohol is being metabolised, more deep sleep is experienced than normal,” he explains. “However, during the second half of the night once the sedative effects have worn off and alcohol has been metabolised, sleep becomes lighter and more disturbed. This leads to more frequent awakenings and difficulty falling back to sleep.”

Alcohol can also interfere with sleep by altering our body’s ability to regulate temperature and making us need the loo throughout the night, Henry adds. On top of that, it’s known to increase snoring, our risk of sleep walking and exacerbate other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnoea, too.

The result is a grumpy cocktail of tiredness and irritability the next day. 

Even if you don’t drink, the lack of a regular sleep routine throughout December can take its toll on your physical and mental health. 

A recent study found “social jet lag’ is responsible for seriously messing up our body clocks. Put simply, when we stick to a sleep routine on weekdays, then throw it out of the window at the weekend, the effect on our bodies is similar to experiencing actual jet lag. Now imagine that amplified throughout December each time we alternate nights in with nights out. 

“An inconsistent schedule can interfere with the body clock and negatively impact how you feel during the day as the body clock works best with a consistent routine, and also make it harder to get a good night’s sleep at the appropriate time,” says Henry. 

In the short term, sleep disturbance can increase irritability during the day, make us less likely to engage with others and predispose us to dwelling on negative events, Henry explains. Long-term, it can “increase the risk of depression and anxiety and a number of chronic health conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity”.

[Read More: How To Make Your Bedroom A Relaxing Sleep Haven]

For most of us though, a few late nights throughout December is nothing to worry about. Lisa Artis, sleep advisor at the Sleep Council, previously told HuffPost UK that a regular bedtime is especially advisable for people who are poor sleepers, as your body clock will tune in to that regular routine.

“But for people who are good sleepers, there’s no need to really overthink it and worry about it too much,” she said. “If you’re a good sleeper, the odd late night or the odd lie-in isn’t going to do any harm.”

If you do want to limit the impacts of poor sleep this winter, Henry recommends establishing good “sleep hygiene” habits such as keeping your bedroom cool, limiting screen time once in bed and getting plenty of outdoor light during the day, which helps regulate the body clock.

Passing on that third mulled wine wouldn’t go amiss, either. 

How The Endless Christmas Socialising Is Damaging Your Sleep

“We must meet up before Christmas”, they said. “It’ll be fun,” they said. And just like that, every other day in your calendar between now and 31 December is accounted for.

For many of us, hectic socialising is part and parcel of the festive season; it’s as Christmassy as eating mince pies, singing carols and watching ‘Love Actually’ for the 15th time on ITV2.

But an entire month of late nights, often paired with large quantities of alcohol and stodgy, sugary food, can play havoc on our bedtime routine. What is festive party-going really doing to our sleep and will we regret it all come January? 

With mulled wine a-plenty (plus the work Christmas party to get through), drinking in moderation becomes a distant memory for many of us in December. But while alcohol can help us fall asleep faster, it also reduces the quality of our sleep, according to Alasdair Henry PhD, a researcher at Sleepio.  

“During the first half of the night as alcohol is being metabolised, more deep sleep is experienced than normal,” he explains. “However, during the second half of the night once the sedative effects have worn off and alcohol has been metabolised, sleep becomes lighter and more disturbed. This leads to more frequent awakenings and difficulty falling back to sleep.”

Alcohol can also interfere with sleep by altering our body’s ability to regulate temperature and making us need the loo throughout the night, Henry adds. On top of that, it’s known to increase snoring, our risk of sleep walking and exacerbate other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnoea, too.

The result is a grumpy cocktail of tiredness and irritability the next day. 

Even if you don’t drink, the lack of a regular sleep routine throughout December can take its toll on your physical and mental health. 

A recent study found “social jet lag’ is responsible for seriously messing up our body clocks. Put simply, when we stick to a sleep routine on weekdays, then throw it out of the window at the weekend, the effect on our bodies is similar to experiencing actual jet lag. Now imagine that amplified throughout December each time we alternate nights in with nights out. 

“An inconsistent schedule can interfere with the body clock and negatively impact how you feel during the day as the body clock works best with a consistent routine, and also make it harder to get a good night’s sleep at the appropriate time,” says Henry. 

In the short term, sleep disturbance can increase irritability during the day, make us less likely to engage with others and predispose us to dwelling on negative events, Henry explains. Long-term, it can “increase the risk of depression and anxiety and a number of chronic health conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity”.

[Read More: How To Make Your Bedroom A Relaxing Sleep Haven]

For most of us though, a few late nights throughout December is nothing to worry about. Lisa Artis, sleep advisor at the Sleep Council, previously told HuffPost UK that a regular bedtime is especially advisable for people who are poor sleepers, as your body clock will tune in to that regular routine.

“But for people who are good sleepers, there’s no need to really overthink it and worry about it too much,” she said. “If you’re a good sleeper, the odd late night or the odd lie-in isn’t going to do any harm.”

If you do want to limit the impacts of poor sleep this winter, Henry recommends establishing good “sleep hygiene” habits such as keeping your bedroom cool, limiting screen time once in bed and getting plenty of outdoor light during the day, which helps regulate the body clock.

Passing on that third mulled wine wouldn’t go amiss, either. 

Why Sleep And Mental Balance Go Hand In Hand…

Irritable. Anxious. Slightly shaky. You know how lack of sleep makes you feel, particularly when you’re a business traveller.Indeed, a recent Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts study revealed that 31% of travellers feel that their sleep patte…

Hate Waking Up In The Winter? Here’s How To Fix Your Bedroom For Happier Mornings

Winter blows for a lot of reasons. One of the real kickers, though, is dragging yourself from your blanket palace every weekday morning in the dark. Does the whole performance really need to be so ‘bleugh’? 

“There’s no reason why waking up in the cold months should be horrible,” Dr Guy Meadows, an insomnia specialist and clinical director of The Sleep School, tells HuffPost UK. “It’s true that humans are solar-powered – we have light-sensitive cells in our eyes which detect the sun as it rises, which triggers cortisol and gives us a wake up call.” But unless you’re dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder, he says, “if you’re getting the right amount of sleep for your biological need, at the right time for you, there’s no reason you shouldn’t wake up refreshed – even if it’s 6am and dark.” 

The key is to “prioritise your sleep”, says Professor Colin Espie, a leading authority in sleep medicine at the University of Oxford and founder of CBT-based digital sleep improvement programme, Sleepio. “It’s there to help us to be ready for the challenges of the day. We shouldn’t be trying to cut corners.” 

So, how to fix your bedroom in a way that puts those Zzzzzs front and centre and makes your weekday mornings that bit more chilled – in a good way? Here’s what the experts think.

Get The Right Sort Of Alarm 

In 2018′s biggest piece of shock news: the incessant bleep of your phone is not the one when it comes to happy wake ups. “A loud, horrible clock activates your fight or flight response,” says Dr Meadows. “At this time of the year you could set a lamp on a timer or use a sunrise lamp alarm clock.” A standard alarm has no respect for what stage in your sleep cycle you’re at, so something light-based can pull you from your slumber in a gentler way. 

[Read More: 3 Wake Up Lights To Get Your Mornings Off To A Better Start]

Keep A Notepad On Your Bedside Table 

“Once in a while, it’s good to have a sleep MOT,” says Professor Espie. “Think about how much sleep you’re getting versus how much you think you need. In the same way that you might know that you’ve gained weight because your size in clothes has gone up, so you can monitor how your sleep is shifting.”

This is a trial-and-error process. If you’re sleeping through the night, you can try taking an extra 20 or 30 minutes and note how that makes you feel. If you toss and turn through the night, you could try taking less and check in on that. Idea is, you’ll eventually find waking up a lot easier, when you find that right ‘size’ sleep for you. Note it down and see where you end up. 

Get Your Dressing Gown Out 

Make getting up in the cold and dark more tolerable with a few practical actions, before you go to bed. “As well as using light to help to wake you up, you could schedule the heating to come on 30 minutes before your alarm goes off and have your dressing gown right by you,” says Dr Meadows. You could extend this out to having the clothes that you’re going to wear set out or even investing in a coffee maker that can be set to pour you a cup – and waft those caffeine-laced aromas into your bedroom.

[Read More: How To Make Your Bedroom A Relaxing Sleep Haven]

Another trick is to signal to your body that the day is starting by doing things at the same time each morning. For example, you could have breakfast and a hot drink at a set point. “If it becomes ritualistic, you body learns ‘we’re doing this thing again’, which can kick your brain into action,” Dr Meadows adds. 

Work Out Your Sleep Cycle 

“To feel refreshed, it’s best to wake up as close to the end of a sleep cycle as possible,” says Dr Meadows. “A good way of doing this is to work out your sleep cycle length. We sleep in cycles of an hour and a half to two hours: if you go to bed at 10pm and find yourself waking up at 2am, you can estimate that you’ve had two cycles of two hours in length. If you know you need eight hours to feel refreshed, you then know that 6am is probably the right wake-up time for you.” Get into a rhythm with this, and eventually you’ll wake up, naturally, at the right time.

[Read More: What Happens To Your Brain And Body When You Only Get Six Hours Sleep?]

 

Keep A Download Diary In The Room 

Your ability to go to sleep, as we all know, is often contingent on your ability to stop your mind from retracing the granular detail of that time you slated another girl in year 9 really loudly in the canteen and turned around to find her standing behind you. Or is that just me? “If you’ve got difficulty winding down to go to sleep, then download the day before it’s time to go to bed,” says Professor Espie. How? By using a technique known as ‘putting the day to rest.’

Keep a diary in your bedside drawer (or use the notes app on your phone) and, an hour or so before you want to go to sleep, have a little debrief on the past 24 hours. What are the loose ends? Any worries? What went well? What could go better next time? Tell yourself that this will all be there as a reminder in the morning so you can let these thoughts go from your mind at bedtime.

Doing this can help you to stop your brain from whirring when you want to go in for your shuteye – meaning a longer, deeper sleep and an easier wake-up call. 

Suffering From ‘Social Jet Lag’? Could Be Time To Change Your Bedtime Routine

You don’t need to be a jet-setter to suffer from jet lag, according to a new study, which suggests that “social jet lag’ is messing up everyone’s body clocks.

For the uninitiated, it’s the name given to the phenomenon where our circadian rhythms become out of sync when we get to the weekend or go on holiday.

This is because we tend to stick to a decent sleep routine during the week (for work) and then stay up later and sleep in on the weekends, which basically has the same kind of effects as jet lag, but without you leaving the country. And it’s not great news for health, with previous studies linking social jet lag to obesity and depression.

One study found that people with different weekday and weekend sleep schedules had triple the odds of being overweight.

For this new study, researchers measured social jet lag in people all over the US by analysing their Twitter activity. There were some interesting findings: people with early commute start times had greater social jet lag, while university students didn’t. This might be because there is reduced weekday pressure on the schedule of students, researchers said. That’ll be those lie-ins, then.

Changes in the seasons also impacted on social jet lag, with people feeling the effects far less in summer, possibly because schedules change to tailor to the school holidays. February appeared to be the worst time for feeling it.

[Read More: What Happens To Your Brain And Body When You Only Get Six Hours Sleep?]

So should we be worried about social jet lag? And is there anything we could be doing to prevent it?

The obvious answer is to stick to a regular sleeping pattern throughout the week and weekend, so you continue going to bed and getting up at the same time. Enabling the ‘Bedtime’ feature on your smartphone could help you with this.

Lisa Artis, sleep advisor at the Sleep Council, told HuffPost UK a regular bedtime is especially advisable for people who are poor sleepers, as your body clock will tune in to that regular routine.

“But for people who are good sleepers, there’s no need to really overthink it and worry about it too much,” she said. “If you’re a good sleeper, the odd late night or the odd lie-in isn’t going to do any harm.”

The key to a good night’s sleep, according to Artis, is not overthinking it or becoming anxious at bedtime. Worrying about your sleep pattern is not conducive to a good night’s kip.

“You want to be in a calm, relaxed state before bed,” she said. Switching off your gadgets, reading a good book, practising mindfulness and listening to soothing music are all advised.

[Read More: How To Make Your Bedroom A Relaxing Sleep Haven

“I think it’s important people make that time to wind down,” she added.

Also be aware of the environment you’re sleeping in: a good-sized comfortable bed and a cool room that’s properly dark is the ultimate sleep haven.

As for the study? Researchers believe their findings could prompt an improvement in school schedules and work schedules, so they can be matched to people’s circadian rhythms, “helping to optimise performance in an increasingly ‘round-the-clock’ work culture”.

How To Make Your Bedroom A Relaxing Sleep Haven

Walk into a spa, a yoga studio, or even your local beauty salon, and you’ll often feel a wave of calm wash over you, making your eyelids feel instantly heavier.  But your own bedroom? Not so much. 

We’re a nation of terrible sleepers, with more than half of UK adults sleeping for six hours or less each night. Our bedrooms may be not be entirely to blame, but they certainly aren’t helping. 

To change that, we’ve enlisted the help of a sleep consultant and an interior designer to find out how to create the perfect zen den at home. You’ll be nodding off before you know it. 

Remove electronic devices from the bedroom

Scrolling through Instagram, replying to Whatsapp messages or watching one last episode on Netflix before bed could be messing with your sleep, according to sleep consultant Maryanne Taylor, founder of The Sleep Works. She recommends removing all electronic items from your bedroom to avoid temptation.

“Electronics in all forms can trick the brain into thinking it needs to stay awake rather than go to sleep,” she tells HuffPost UK. “All screens emit a blue light which reduces the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls our sleep/wake cycle, known as circadian rhythm. The less melatonin we produce, the harder it is to fall asleep and maintain sleep throughout the night.”

Taylor recommends a minimum of 30 minutes screen-free time before going to bed and keeping devices in another room. You can also reduce the blue light on many smartphones now by switching on night mode.

“Devices can wake you up from sounds of texts, emails, or reminders,” she says. “If you are using the phone as a clock next to your bed, even a brief check of the time may be enough to waken you fully from a drowsy state.”  

Of course, you’ll need to invest in an alarm clock if you’re ditching your phone. HuffPost’s roundup of wake-up lights should help.  

Optimise your environment for sleep 

One thing that’s guaranteed to keep you awake at night is an uncomfortable bed. If splashing out on a new mattress is out of the question right now, experimenting with mattress toppers or new pillows could help. Your back and neck should feel supported during sleep, says Taylor. 

She also recommends keeping the bedroom on the cool side and using a warm duvet to keep warm, rather than central heating. “Try to stick to 100% cotton bedding sheets as this will allow your body to maintain body temperature,” she adds.

In addition, playing white noise in your bedroom may help distract from the sounds of a busy road or noisy housemates, says Taylor. Finally, set aside some time to declutter and tidy your bedroom. Trust us, it’ll be worth it.  

Go to town with relaxing interiors

Now the basics have been covered, it’s time to have some fun. Painting your bedroom a relaxing colour could help you get in the mood to snooze, says Aurore Martial, founder of interior design company Domus Venus. 

“I love blue for a bedroom, it really is a soothing colour. I wouldn’t go for bright colours such a yellow, red or vivid tones – it would remove the calming mood you’re after,” she says.

“I also love a plaster effect in bedrooms, it adds a lot of warmth and a nice texture to the walls. You can also pick a plain textured wallpaper with a woven silky finish to get a cosier luxury mood.”

No sleep pad is complete without cosy soft furnishings, including throws, rugs and cushions, Martial adds. If you’re looking for inspiration, HuffPost UK’s tried and tested guide on the snuggliest throws this winter could help. 

Finally, both Taylor and Martial recommend investing in blackout blinds to block out light, which can impact the production of sleep-boosting melatonin. If blinds aren’t for you, Martial says getting pleated curtains, instead of ones with eyelets, can help, as the latter tend to let in more light.