How Good Are You In Bed?

When it comes to your most important nighttime activity – ahem, that’s sleeping – lots of us rate really badly. We go to bed late, we read our iPads into the small hours, sleep restlessly and wake up tired. Plus for us women, there are particular problems with sleep in midlife. GPs report that insomnia is the single biggest complaint of menopausal patients. A study has revealed that menopausal women have 61 percent of their nights disrupted by night sweats.

But that’s nothing a caffeine shot won’t fix?

Wrong.

When we skimp on sleep, it’s a catastrophe for our hormones. We all know good sleep makes us feel great and look better – it’s not called beauty sleep for nothing; be gone those bags! – but sleep is much, much more than a self-indulgent mood booster and beautifier. Sleep is the magic button that switches off the stress hormone cortisol, turns down the heat on your hunger hormones, boosts your metabolism, fires up your brain and reverses aging. In short, if you don’t sleep well, you screw up your hormones and get fat, old, tired and stupid.

So, let’s make you better in bed!

Six hours before bed: Have your last alcoholic drink. OK, you may think I’m being unreasonable. Perhaps you can leave it for the weekend when you can sleep in. Remember, every drink you have later than this deadline can interfere with sleep.

Four hours before bed: Exercise. A workout can leave you healthily tired, but don’t exercise later than three hours before bed. You must allow your body time to cool down, which is a natural sleep trigger. You can do yoga and stretches before bedtime, as these help you relax.

Three hours before bed: Take a hot bath or shower to heat your body and then let it cool.
Two hours before bed: Turn off your screens. The light from TVs, tablets, laptops and even your phone, confuses your brain, so it produces less melatonin, which is the all-important sleep hormone. Non-backlit screens such as Kindles are fine.

Ninety minutes before bed: Dim your lights, as low light triggers melatonin. Set up a dark, quiet room.

One hour before bed: Open a window or turn off the heating in your bedroom. Sleep in a cool environment.

Thirty minutes before bed: Open a book. FACT: Reading something absorbing can reduce stress levels by more than two-thirds in just six minutes. Sex and orgasms also reduce stress even quicker, so indulge!