• Woman sleeps with sleeping mask in bed on meadow.

    Sleep your way to happiness – Turn your bed into a Zen zone.

    The yearning for a perfect night’s sleep in the era of 24/7 services and cities that never sleep.

Sleep unlocks unimaginable potential.

Arianna Huffington, co-founder of the Huffington Post, is one of the most important figures in the media world and not known for mincing her words. “This is a room of type-A women – this is a room of sleep-deprived women,” she says in a TED talk that has now been seen by over five million people. Her message to the women in the room is clear: sleep your way to the top. Literally. A good night’s sleep unlocks undreamed-of potential and allows slumbering talents and ideas to unfold.

Woman strolling in a romantic garden.
Woman with pillow at a small fountain.

Sleep is the best meditation.

Huffington’s rallying cry merits consideration; in the western world, people’s bedrooms may be more luxurious than ever but sleep is not highly valued. In a globalised world in which our phones flash continuously and life never stands still, sleep just seems to be a waste of precious time. Jet lag, shift work and the “always available” mentality are just some factors that lead to poor-quality sleep. Over 33% of managers and 37% of senior executives regularly take sleeping pills. However, this does not need to be the case: autogenic training, meditation and, above all, a regular sleep cycle can provide lasting help with no side effects or risk of dependency. There are several ways of improving the quality of your sleep so that your biological clock remains in equilibrium.

Napercise – learning to sleep properly.

A London gym has recently started offering a course which has nothing to do with burning calories. Their “napercise” classes are designed to help stressed-out mums and dads get to sleep in 45 minutes. The course, which sees whole groups of people turn up with eye masks and air beds, begins with light stretching exercises. Some people will think the idea of paying to be sent to sleep is nothing short of absurd, but for others it's the perfect solution in a busy life where it’s hard to relax enough to get a proper night’s sleep.

Sheep figure in blue.
  • Woman sleeps in a romantic garden with a sleeping mask.

Digital sleep diary.

Many people feel that they do not sleep well, but when asked about it, they realise that they don’t really know the reason why. Even attending a sleep lab at the hospital doesn’t always produce a straightforward answer, as the situation in the laboratory is totally different from going to sleep at home. It is therefore a good idea to keep a sleep diary and answer a few questions every morning and evening. For example, you might discover that you always have nightmares or a disturbed night if you have eaten fatty food in the evening, and you can change your diet accordingly.

Every body is different. Although there are guidelines for getting good sleep, only a personal diary can help you to gain a better understanding of your personal sleep problems. There are now sleep diary apps you can get which visualise all your answers in a display and also have an alarm to remind you when you ought to go to bed.

Woman sleeps with sleeping mask and blanket on open window.

An oasis of peace – the bedroom.

Most measures aimed at helping to improve sleep relate to the bedroom. The most important thing is to shut off all sources of light and keep out any noise (e.g. a partner who snores). The temperature of the room is also a factor: 18 to 21 degrees is the optimum temperature for sleeping. So in the winter it’s best not to leave the heating on when you go to bed. When choosing a mattress, look for tested quality, and change it regularly. Some couples find that having separate single duvets rather than a large double one is more conducive to getting a relaxed night’s sleep. Whether you're a fan of feng shui minimalism or opulent colour schemes, your bedroom is a very personal space; there’s one thing you should be able to do there above all else – feel comfortable.

Rules for a better night’s sleep.

Once you’re happy with your bedroom the most difficult task begins: disciplining yourself to follow the patterns of behaviour that lead to restorative sleep. Turn off your phone and your computer an hour before bedtime, ban all electronic devices from the bedroom and get up at the same time on weekend mornings as you do during the week. All of these things can help you to improve the quality of your sleep. It would be crazy to draw up a huge list of rules which could generate more stress than relaxation if you tried to apply them all, so it’s best to strike a healthy balance between some guiding principles which work for you and generally taking a break from the rules and pressures of daily life as often as possible. It is a proven fact that good sleep makes us happier. Whether this happiness means career success, as in the case of Arianna Huffington, or simply having more fun with your family and friends is something for you to sleep on – tonight, if possible!

Woman walks through town with pillows.