A lack of good sleep over long weekends (like Easter) can tank your mental health. We spoke to Rob Henst, a sleep scientist and chronobiologist at Advanced Health Intelligence, to find out how you can maximise your free hours to truly regenerate. A few simple steps can make a massive difference for your snoozing hours.
Here’s how to bag restorative—and better sleep—when you’ve got more time to hit the hay.
1. Try to Stick to a Routine
“One thing to watch out for during downtime is loss of routine,” warns Henst. The workday creates structure, but once those constraints are lifted, your daily habits can vanish. “[During the year] your brain can easily anticipate periods of activity and sleep and prepare accordingly,” adds Henst.
His prescription: create your own pattern during the day and have a good pre-bed routine in the evening. “Think of preparing breakfast for the next day, picking out the clothes you’re going to wear, breathing exercises or reading a book,” he says.
2. Tune In With Your Body
Sleeping intuitively can help you nix fatigue and recover from workstress, and the holidays are the perfect time to settle into a natural pattern. “Take some time to listen to your body and avoid activities or substances that could mask how sleepy or alert you feel,” he says.
Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol are the usual culprits. “Stress also masks sleepiness, so make sure to differentiate between just feeling alert and feeling restless from stress.”
3. Revamp Your Bedroom
Unless you wake up feeling sore, a different mattress probably won’t help you sleep better,” says Henst. However, during the warmer months breathable bed sheets could help you snag more comfortable shuteye. “Your bedroom should be an oasis of rest—it should feel inviting to enter and sleep,” he adds. “Remove any items that have nothing to do with sleep like your gym bag, laptop, or rowing machine.” And, in the words of the infamous Admiral William H. McRaven: make your bed every morning!
There are a few additions you can throw into your sleeping space to snooze with ease. While the habits listed here are crucial to a good night’s rest, these products could help lull you into a sleepy state:
Waking up in a sweat? A breathable set like this one will keep you comfortable even when the temperature rises (or dips).
Memory Foam Pillow
This bamboo-infused variant of these form-molding pillows stays cooler and will give you maximum support.
Want to snag as much shuteye as possible in the AM hours, a set of blockout curtains like these is a must.
4. Skip the Last-Minute Grub
“Eating late may cause discomfort when you’re in bed, especially if you like your food greasy and spicy as this can cause heartburn,” says Henst. “Avoid eating chocolates at night as these contain caffeine. This doesn’t only make it more difficult to fall asleep, but also makes you sleep lighter, which affects the restorability of sleep.”
Also, while alcohol might make it easier to slumber, it can cause sleep interruptions and result in low-quality shuteye. “Plus, it relaxes the muscles that keep your airways open, which may cause them to narrow or collapse, resulting in exacerbated snoring and possibly sleep apnea.”