Body

This is the time you need to go to bed to wake up refreshed

Because life's less fun when you're perpetually exhausted.

We don't know about you, but we're pretty sick of going to bed at 10.30 and waking up feeling groggy and unrefreshed the next morning.

We got our eight hours kip, what more do the gods of sleep want from us?

According to surveys, we're not alone in our perpetual state of tiredness.

A recent report by the Sleep Council in the UK, found that just 17 per cent of people feel they "sleep very well most nights," and that percentage is getting lower as years go on.

Those in the know suggest this could be because we're looking at sleep from the wrong angle. Rather than looking at 'hours per night,' we should be thinking about our sleep cycles when it comes to getting the right amount of kip.

Dr Laura Leftkowitz, an author and expert on sleep, explains:

“The brain has a pattern of sleep. It’s not like you just fall asleep and hour one is the same as hours two and three and five and nine.“It goes through cycles. Within each there is what we call non-REM [Rapid Eye Movement] sleep, and then REM sleep.”

So the answer is, rather than setting your alarm so you get eight hours, you should be ensuring that you'll be able to complete a sleep cycle.

Retailer web-blinds.com have devised a nifty sleep calculator, where you can pop in the time you need to get out of bed, and it'll tell you when you should get into it the night before.

The calculator takes into account that most people spend around 14 minutes trying to get to sleep.

Web-blinds say: "Waking up mid-cycle can leave you feeling grumpy and tired...rising in between phases will help you to start the day with a smile on your face."

And it's pretty good news for night owls, as it means you don't have to crawl between the sheets pre 10pm to ensure a restful night.

That said, it's recommended that humans go through around 5-6 complete sleep cycles a night, so this isn't a licence to party till dawn.

Calculate how much sleep you should be getting here.

Our columnist Libby Matthews previously gave her tips to New Zealand Woman's Weekly on how you can improve your sleep. We've included them here:

• Practise deep breathing before bedtime.
A stressful day can lead to us taking short, shallow breaths. Spend 10-20 minutes before going to bed, focusing on your breathing, deep in your belly.

• Turn off electronics an hour before going to bed.
I use time before bed to answer emails, catch up on social media or watch TV. Some of these tasks might feel relaxing, but the light emitted from the screens interferes with the production of melatonin, the sleep-producing hormone. Try reading instead – it helps the body to relax, making it easier to fall asleep.

• Get out in the sunlight each morning.
This tells your body it is daytime and not night, which helps reset your body clock. Try setting your alarm for 20 minutes earlier and going for a walk in the sunshine.

• Don’t exercise late.
Exercising too late in the evening can have an impact on the quality of our sleep. It raises the core temperature of the body, making it difficult to fall asleep, so it’s best to avoid it.

• Set a regular bedtime and wake-up time.
This helps you to get into a regular sleep routine so your body clock can adjust. After a while, you will find yourself waking up at the same time without using an alarm.

• Invest in a quality mattress and bed.
It’s important to have a mattress that supports and balances your spine. I have noticed a huge difference in my energy levels since investing in a well-made bed designed to cradle each part of the body and provide deep support. Try to make good use of the online tools some bed manufacturers provid