Ever wondered why your husband always seems to get a better night’s sleep than you? Well, now there’s scientific evidence to explain it. Scientists have found that men and women’s circadian clocks are set differently.
Research has shown that women’s natural sleep rhythms are two hours ahead of men’s – which means women are often fighting their natural body clock to stay awake at night! This can often lead to problems sleeping at night and feelings of exhaustion in the morning.
So, how much sleep do you really need? Although conventional wisdom tells us we need eight hours a night, that doesn’t apply to everyone, and the amount of sleep you need is very individual.
The key is how refreshed you feel when you awake, which is influenced by the different types of sleep you get: about 75% should be non-REM sleep (the start of the sleep cycle), and 25% Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep (usually when you dream).
The brain allocates the correct proportions in the amounts you need, and if you wake up feeling refreshed, you are getting enough. New research suggests that the optimum number of hours are seven. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) analysed sleep-time data and concluded that if you get less than seven hours on a regular basis, you could be more at risk of hypertension, diabetes, stroke and other cardiovascular and metabolic disorders.
So how can you get a better night’s sleep? Follow these simple rules and we promise you’ll find drifting off a whole lot easier…
Choose the right type of pyjamas
Your choice of pyjamas is key when trying to get a good night’s sleep, according to Professor Jason Ellis, director of the Northumbria Centre for Sleep Research.
Speaking on the Yahoo News UK’s podcast Britain is a Nation of… the researcher argued that our choice of night-time attire is vital for regulating body temperature as we get 40 winks.
He recommends opting for cotton or silk because, “These two allow you to breathe and they help regulate your own body temperature.”
He added, “The difficulty comes because as women get to a certain age they are going to have hot flushes in the night and that’s going to compound the problem of that temperature regulation.”
Be temperature aware
Feeling too hot or too cold in the night can lead to restless sleep and wakefulness. The ideal temperature is between 16 and 18°C.
Have lots of layers
Use the right duvet for the time of year and layer sheets or blankets, which can be removed easily. If you get cold feet in winter, wear bed socks.
Paint yourself sleepy
Rich colours such as purple, gold or red stimulate you, resulting in poor sleep. Bedrooms painted in blue tend to see the best rest, followed by green and yellow.
Invest in the right pillow
Choose a pillow that ensures your neck is supported and your spine aligned, which should aid your sleep greatly.
Embrace the dark side
Light is a common sleep ‘robber’ so invest in a pair of well-lined curtains, which keep the room dark.
Create some quiet
Sudden noises disrupt sleep, so invest in a good pair of earplugs if you are in a noisy environment.
Ditch the distractions
The bedroom should be a haven for calm and relaxation so banish your cellphones, computers, TV and anything else that’s likely to distract you from sleep or wake you up once you’ve nodded off.