Teachers, we know you are often overworked and stressed so we wanted to offer some tips for getting the best night’s sleep possible, ready to attack each day as it arrives. Managing over zealous children who are easily over excited is an unenviable task but we know that getting a good rest can help, if only a little! We have sourced 9 scientifically proven ways for you to improve your sleep.
Ban technology from the bedroom
We know it’s easy to check those emails one last time, do some last minute lesson plan amends or marking in bed but it’s proven that it is having a detrimental effect on your sleeping habits. In a comparison study led by neuroscientist Anne-Marie Chang in the US, results showed that subjects reading from a printed book in bed, as opposed to an iPad, were more likely to fall asleep quicker and feel more alert in the morning.
Tidy room, tidy mind
It is one of the truest sayings of all time, so make sure that your bedroom is one of the tidiest in the home and it will help you drift off comfortably. Research conducted by St. Lawrence University in New York found that sleep quality suffered in a messy environment, it also concluded that stress levels rose too.
The darker the better
Studies from the University of Granada in Spain tells us that sleeping in pitch black is important for melatonin levels and metabolism. Melatonin is the chemical conducive in anticipating the daily onset of darkness and readying your body for sleep so it’s a good idea to invest in blackout blinds, eye-masks or even to slowly dim the lights as you work closer to your bedtime.
Know your body clock
Matt Walker, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California says that the most important thing in the human sleep cycle is to get seven to nine hours each night, to honour your circadian biological rhythm. Walker also adds that people tend to fall into two categories, larks (early rise, early to bed) and owls (late rise, late to bed) so finding your optimum time for sleep is about knowing what sort of person you are.
Routine, routine, routine
The body doesn’t like surprises, so once you have the optimum bedtime set – you should stick to it, even at weekends. You can give yourself a type of ‘social jetlag’, the equivalent of flying back and forth from London to Moscow each week, according to Matt Walker. So when you come around to Sunday night, your body is in shock and can’t find to the biological rhythm it is used to.
Use the 90 minute rule of sleep
In his book Night School, Professor Richard Wiseman writes about how we sleep in 90 minute cycles, from being awake to light sleep, deep sleep followed by rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Knowing when to wake up can be valuable, as we feel more alert and less groggy when waking from the REM part of the cycle. Track back in 90 minute sections from when you need to get out of bed to find the perfect time to go to sleep e.g. a 7am get up requires a bed time of 11.30pm (7 ½ hours of sleep).
Cold feet matter
In the same book, Wiseman talks about the importance of warm extremities of the body, namely the toes. The temperature of the toes has been proven to effect quality of sleep, therefore people with bad circulation should always wear a pair of warm socks to bed. He also comments that the ideal bedroom temperature is just over 18°C (65°F) and 65% humidity.
Cut the caffeine
It sounds obvious, but avoiding those later evening cups of tea and coffee can help dramatically in drifting off comfortably. Studies carried out at Wayne State College of Medicine, Detroit, USA suggest that coffee can have an effect for up to six hours.
Post-work exercise is key
Of course there are numerous studies out there linking exercise to better sleep, there are obvious benefits that we all know about. But when and how you exercise can also impact the matter. Studies show that working out six hours before bedtime was especially beneficial, so this means a vigorous half hour to an hour session each day following work can help you to de-stress and tire the body and mind in preparation for sleep later that evening.
What are your de-stressing and sleeping tips? Let us know in the comments section below.