Sleep. If you could buy it in a bottle, you’d buy a dozen right?
There are many reasons why that wonderful, blissful state of unconsciousness might be eluding you: from stress, to anxiety, to diet, to worrying about the in-laws coming to stay!
Whilst we can’t get your to-do list done, we can suggest a few new habits.
UNPLUG/ POWER DOWN
Go ‘offline’ one hour before sleep. Stop emailing, texting and web browsing. Even go so far as to switch off the telly! Give the mind a rest. If you need to charge an electronic device, try doing so outside of the bedroom. The stimulating and physiological effects from the screen will prohibit your ability to sleep. Go to the library and borrow an old-fashioned paper novel – remember those? Read that instead.
As they say, eat breakfast like a King, lunch like a Prince, and dinner like a Pauper so make sure the last meal of the day is relatively light. If you eat a heavy meal too close to bedtime your body will be focused on digesting – not sleeping! Eat lighter meals that are easy to digest (good carbs & vegetables). Or eat earlier on nights that you simply must sleep well. This will help stop that sluggish feeling you might get after a bigger dinner. Salads, meats, and vegetables tend to be lighter than carb-based dinners and won’t lay on your stomach before bed. Try also eating at least 2 hours before you planning on sleeping, you’d be surprised just how much this helps too!
WATCH THE STIMULANTS
Avoid drinking caffeinated tea or coffee within 6 hours of bedtime. And no alcoholic nightcaps – whilst they might help you get to sleep, they also cause you to wake up more frequently as they encourage your mind to remain active even when you don’t want it too. Try replacing them with a chamomile tea or a hot water.
Go to bed and get up at the same time each day so your body gets into a sleep-wake cycle and you get a better night. Yep that includes the weekends too! Plus, set an alarm to remind you to GO to bed (not just to wake up in the morning). If you don't fall asleep within 30 minutes try getting up, do something relaxing and then go back to bed when you're tired. Agonising over falling asleep makes nodding off even harder.
SET THE AMBIANCE
Cool, calm and quiet is the perfect sleep environment. Our body temperature can fluctuate particular at night for a number of reasons and most of us find ourselves getting too hot and uncomfortable. So try to gauge the temperature in your room and adjust to find a balance that works for you. It is also good to think about the thickness of your duvet during certain months. When it is colder outside opt for a thicker duvet and when we head into more summery months, choose a slightly thinner one as this will help with your sleep. If absolute quiet doesn’t work for you try popping on some relaxing music. It might sound strange, but those children’s classical lullabies work a trick every time!
WORK IT OUT
Be sure to regularly exercise during the day to burn up energy, but just don’t do it too close to bedtime as this will rev you up and make you too wired for sleep.
De-stress. Be calm. Take 3 deep breaths in and let each breath out sloooowly – imagine you are blowing up a balloon inside (yes, let your tummy and chest expand as you breath in, and let it subside as you breath out). This breathing technique will ultimately allow your muscles to relax, you are focusing on your breathing so not dwelling too much on some of the stresses and troubles in your life and the deep breathing is almost meditative.
Know that it’s OK to take ‘me-time’ to prep for sleep. Make to-do lists and jot down what’s on your mind to get things out of your head while you sleep. It really works, grab a notebook and pen and leave it by your bed. Now your head is clear and calm make time to count your blessings. Literally! Recount the day’s activities and consciously find something good to think about each one. You could even start a gratitude list – the results on your wellbeing will be amazing.
Tell your body it’s sleep time by doing the same things every night. turn the lights down low, take a warm bath or shower, stretch, relax skin and mind with a quick body or face massage routine, read, or listen to soothing music. All these things can wind you down gently. Why not give our bedtime (sleep) ritual and tell us how you get on?
Night-shift worker? Follow the same rules but during the day!