Are you struggling to get good quality sleep?
You’re not alone. In fact, around two-thirds of Brits have troubles with sleeping. Getting enough shut-eye is critical to our health and well-being, so I’ve created this list of tips for better sleep to help you get some much-needed rest.
Good Night’s Sleep Basics
- Create (and stick to) a realistic sleep schedule. To reinforce a healthy sleep schedule, try waking up and going to bed at around the same time every night, even on weekends.
- Limit your naps. If you feel that you need a nap during the day, try to keep it under 30 minutes.
- Be aware of how much sleep you need. Most adults need anything from six to nine hours of sleep every night. The only way to know what amount works best for you is trial and error. Don’t forget to factor in about half an hour to fall asleep after you’ve gone to bed.
- If you’re awake, you’re not sleeping. Your bed should only be used for sleeping and intimacy. If you do other wakeful tasks in bed, it becomes difficult for your mind to “switch off”. The more your brain associates the bed with only sleeping, the easier it will be to fall and stay asleep.
- Have a calm and unrushed morning routine. Having an efficient routine reduces stress and wasted time. To promote a relaxed and unhurried morning, try preparing what you can the night before. You can make your lunch, lay out your clothes, schedule the next day in your calendar. If you need help creating your morning routine, check out this post.
- When your head hits the pillow, don’t try to fall asleep, rather, just try to relax.
- If you’ve been in bed for a while, and you’ve been relaxing, but just can’t seem to fall asleep, then get up. Go do something calming for a bit and try again when you’re a bit more tired.
- Write down worries or concerns so you won’t forget them and don’t need to dwell on them.
- Turn off or put away screens and devices 1-2 hours before bed. The light disrupts your circadian rhythm, making it harder to fall asleep.
- Think about noise. Some people benefit from having white noise or calming music in the background as they sleep, others drift off easier with earplugs if they can’t sleep with any noise going on.
“Sleep is the best meditation” – Dalai Lama
Incorporate Healthy Habits
- Cigarettes, caffeine, and alcohol all have stimulating effects on your body and can make getting a good nights’ sleep impossible. Try cutting them off a few hours before you head to bed.
- Trying to fall asleep with an empty or over-stuffed belly is going to be uncomfortable. Try not to eat a heavy meal to close to bedtime.
- Exercise. You should include some regular physical activity in your everyday life, not only for better sleep but to benefit your general health overall. Just try not to do strenuous exercise in the 2 hours before bed.
- Stretching/yoga. While vigorous exercise just before bed will perk you up, some stretching or relaxing yoga might be just the thing you need to relax at the end of the day. Yoga with Adriene on youtube is a great place to look for either short or long soothing yoga routines.
- Drink most of your water earlier in the day, to reduce late-night bathroom that disrupt your sleep cycle.
- If you’re anxious, worried, or just have a million things racing through your mind at night, jot them down on a pad of paper. That way you know you won’t forget it and you can deal with it another time.
- Keep a diary. Keep track of anything that can and does affect your sleep, so you can notice patterns later. In the evening, track the foods and drinks you consume, how stressful your day was if you exercised. Then, in the morning, track how long you slept, how you feel, if you struggled to get and stay asleep. Over time, you should be able to spot some links between what you do, and how that affects your sleep habits.
- Have a “winding down” evening routine. This will be a simple routine that you’ll do every night before bed. Soon, your brain will get used to performing these tasks and then sleeping. Some habits you might want to include in a relaxing evening routine are: dim the lights, having a warm bath, writing a to-do list for tomorrow, practicing yoga or light stretching, listening to relaxing music or sounds, reading a book, try mindful breathing or meditation.
Consider Your Environment
- Keep it cool. Between 18 and 24 degrees Celsius (64-75 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Make it dark. TV’s, mobile phones, and other screened devices have bright lights that tell your body it’s time to be awake, so try to avoid using these in the 2 hours leading up to bedtime – even better if they aren’t in the bedroom at all. Also, if you don’t have them already, some blackout blinds or curtains are very effective at keeping the room dark.
- Diffuse the noise. Have some white noise playing or invest in some earbuds.
- Keep it clean. Wash your bedding every week, your pillows 3 times a year and your duvets/comforters once or twice a year. Try to keep your bedroom free of clutter, also, dust and vacuum regularly.
- Keep it fresh. Your mattress should be replaced every 8 years, your duvet every 5 years, and your pillows when they lose their plump and begin to feel lumpy (about every 2 years, but it depends on the type of pillows you use).
“The nicest thing for me is sleep, then at least I can dream” – Marilyn Monroe
Know When To Contact Your Doctor
If after following these tips you find that you’re often still struggling to get a good night’s sleep, then contact your doctor. There may be underlying causes to your sleep problems.
What helps you drift off into the land of nod?