Tempur UK has teamed up with the Mental Health Foundation to raise awareness about how a lack of – or poor quality – sleep affects our mental health. Throughout May, the mattress manufacturer will be donating £10 for every mattress sold at a Tempur store or on Tempur.com to the Foundation. Here, Tobin James, managing director of Tempur UK, explains why the company chose to get involved, and Chris O'Sullivan, sleep expert at the Mental Health Foundation, shares expert advice on how to improve the quality of your sleep.
'We spend about a third of our lives asleep,' explains Tobin. 'And good quality sleep is essential to maintaining good mental and physical health. It’s as important to our bodies as eating, drinking and breathing and can affect our performance, concentration, energy levels, relationships, moods and interpretation of the world.'
'Problems with sleep can be one of the first signs of stress and can increase our risk of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. By joining with the Mental Health Foundation, we want to show that, in some cases, treating sleep problems alongside mental health problems can help address both symptoms and causes, leading to quicker recovery.'
Sleep expert Chris O'Sullivan comments, 'We're delighted to be working with Tempur to highlight the importance of good sleep in preventing mental health problems. Improving the quality of our sleep is one of the easiest ways to improve our mental health; when we sleep well, we are able to meet challenges head on, focus on work, and have the time and energy to devote to our relationships and our interests.'
We can all benefit from improving the quality of our sleep and for many of us, it may simply be a case of making small lifestyle or attitude adjustments. Here's where to start:
Tempur's tips for a good night's sleep
1. Dedicate your bedroom to sleep
Make your bedroom a temple for sleep. That means a good bed that suits you, curtains or blinds that keep out the light, and a comfortable temperature - ideally a little cooler than the rest of the house.
2. Ban screens in bed
Checking your phone last thing at night or browsing social media when we can't sleep… We've all done it. It's a problem because the films we watch or the emails or feeds we check stimulate our minds and the light from a phone or TV screen can fool our brains into believing it's daytime. Buy an old-fashioned alarm clock or try putting your phone on flight mode when you go to bed.
3. If you can’t sleep, get up
Don't lie in bed awake tossing and turning. If you can't get off to sleep or get back to sleep, get up. Try a warm caffeine/sugar-free drink or listen to some calm music for a while. Don't be tempted to check your phone!
4. Watch what you eat and drink
As a rule, eating less than two hours before bed means that food hasn't had time to digest before we try and sleep. This can lead to discomfort and indigestion. Fatty or spicy foods can take longer to process and stimulants like caffeine or sugar can give us a boost of energy when we want to be winding down. Rice, oats and dairy products can encourage us to feel sleepy.
5. Exercise - but not in the evening
Exercise is great for mental health and regular light exercise is a good way to improve sleep. Exercise floods the body with feel-good hormones that stimulate our minds and bodies, so beware of exercising late at night as it can actually keep us awake.