Here’s to another Wellbeing Wednesday! Ah sleep, it’s most peoples’ favourite hobby (no, just me then?) but if you’re one of those people who just can’t seem to get to sleep when it comes to bedtime, here are some tips to help you get to slumberland and there’s no counting sheep involved.
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Have a night time routine
If you’re having trouble sleeping, try getting yourself into a night time routine so that you are preparing your body and mind for sleep. Have a relaxing bath, moisturise, brush your teeth, put the pets to bed and anything else you need to do before you need to get into bed and follow this routine every night.
Make your bed a sleepy place
Once you wake up on a morning make sure you’re getting out of bed and that you aren’t laying there for hours checking social media or your emails. You need to make sure you’re making associations with your bed and sleep and when you’re working or laying there awake you’re breaking that connection. If you really do suffer with insomnia, the advice is to get up if you’re feeling very awake and go into another room.
Eliminate day time stresses
I know this may be easier said than done but you need to try and eliminate your day time stresses as much as possible. Very often the reason people can’t sleep is because they have an active mind that they can’t switch off and having a stressful day doesn’t help with this. If you cannot avoid these stresses, make sure when you get home you are doing activities to try and calm your mind such as meditation and relaxation so that when you get to bed you aren’t still going through the day’s events in your mind.
While drinking alcohol may help you fall asleep quicker, it actually decreases the quality of your sleep and interrupts your sleep cycle so try and eliminate alcohol before bed.
Get pets off the bed
This may be difficult for you to hear if you love having your fur babies on the bed with you but having pets sleeping on the bed does not make for a peaceful night. I can tell you for a fact that my Labrador has, in the past, kicked me in her sleep, will sleep bark and steal my side of the bed – I’d often wake up with a tiny bit of bed space while she’d have the entire bed to herself! If this sounds familiar, try and get your pets sleeping in their own beds and off of yours and you’ll be surprised how much more restful a sleep you can get.
Making your room as quiet as possible will help you to drift off to sleep. Turn off TVs and any other electronics that might be keeping you awake. If you live in a noisy area, with a noisy neighbour or you’ve got a noisy partner, try wearing earplugs when you go to bed and block out some of that noise where possible.
Don’t clock watch
It’s always tempting to look at the clock if you can’t fall asleep but I’d urge you not to. If you’re one of those people that constantly clock watch while laying awake and say to yourself ‘if I fall asleep now I’ll only have 5 hours sleep’, ‘even if I get to sleep now, I’ll be tired in the morning’, just don’t! If you have to, cover up any clocks so that you’re not tempted to look and put your phone out of arms reach.
Napping is my second favourite thing to do, after sleeping, so to be told that you’re not allowed to nap makes me angry on the inside but you don’t need to eliminate all naps, just the ones that go from ’10 minutes resting my eyes’ to a full blown 4 hours-what-day-is-it kind of nap. Ideally a power nap should be around 20 minutes so that you don’t fall into a deep sleep, so if you know you’re a mega snoozer, make sure you set an alarm to wake you up.
Stick to a consistent bed time
Even on the weekends you should be trying to stick to a consistent bed time, which also means no laying in on a Saturday! Having a set time that you wake up and go to bed will set your internal clock and you will wake up more naturally.
Don’t eat or drink too late
Your stomach isn’t able to digest food quick enough if you go to bed not long after eating. You may end up with stomach pain when laying down and this is going to hinder your sleep pattern. Make sure you’re not drinking too much either as you don’t want to be making several trips to the bathroom throughout the night.
Have a dark room
And I don’t mean the kind to develop photographs ! If your room isn’t dark enough because of street lighting for example your brain will think that it’s still daytime and it will be harder for you to fall asleep. Get thicker curtains or black out blinds and if you can’t do either of these get an eye mask (you’ll look super glamorous too).
As long as you’re not doing this right before bedtime, which will keep you awake, gentle exercise has been proven to help you sleep better. Even more reasons for you to stop procrastinating and get to the gym or take the dog for a walk.
Reevaluate your bed
Is your bed actually comfortable enough for you? When was the last time you changed your mattress? If you feel like your bed is way past it’s use by date it might be time for an upgrade. There are so many different types of mattresses so make sure you shop around and find one that you find really comfortable. Equally, if your bed frame is on it’s last legs, change it up for a sturdier, more comfortable one.
Put the electronics away
Everyone knows that you shouldn’t use electronics when it’s time to go to sleep. For the same reasons you need to have a dark room, the light will trick your brain into thinking that it’s day time. Not only that you’re waking your brain up by going on social media, playing games etc so put the phone down and away from you at least half an hour before bed. No one needs to know what Janice’s new Facebook status is, especially right before they go to bed.
Not everyone needs 8 hours
If this is one of the things that you’re worrying about not getting enough sleep, recognise that not everyone needs a full 8 hours sleep. Some people need more than this and some people less so work out what you feel is the best length of sleep for you – try having a regular sleep time and noting what time you naturally wake up.
Create a peaceful home
When it’s getting dark on an evening, I like to light some candles and make sure the whole house is dimly lit with side lamps and lights as part of my night time routine. This is telling me that time to sleep is coming up and it also makes you more relaxed and calm.
Have a cool room
When we are starting to fall asleep, our bodies naturally cool off. Having a cool room will help keep your body to a lower temperature faster and can encourage sleep.
No caffeine in the evenings
We all know that caffeine is a stimulant so try and ensure you’re not drinking any coffee too late into the afternoon as this can keep you from falling asleep even several hours before bedtime.
Listen to relaxing music
There are some really great apps out there for your phone that will play the soothing sounds of the beach, a forest or a rainstorm to help you fall asleep. Listening to these will calm your mind and make you focus on something else if you find you have a busy mind. If your mind wanders, bring it back to the relaxing sounds and focus on relaxing rather than sleep. I have found that listening to EBooks help me fall asleep too. I love listening to autobiographies being read aloud by celebrities with soothing voices on Audible and some of my favourites are Simon Peg, Robert Webb, Stephen Fry and David Mitchell (I’m also partial to a Jack Whitehall EBook too but it’s not particularly relaxing!)
Seeing a doctor
If you really are having persistent bouts of sleep deprivation think about whether it’s time for you to have a visit with your GP.
I’d love to hear the ways that you get better sleep, I know a lot of people swear by lavender on their pillow but personally I don’t enjoy the smell of it. Happy sleeping everyone!