Sleep – no one ever seems to get enough of it. But it’s no wonder we are in a permanent state of sleepiness when everything in life seems to be such a rush! We move constantly from one thing to the next, not taking a lot in or giving ourselves the time we need. Other than food and exercise, we often put our actual wellbeing on the back burner most of the time. So, if you are not feeling 100% every day or you have trouble sleeping, try the following for a couple of weeks to see if it makes a difference:
Give yourself Time
Give yourself time to settle down before bed, we are not robots and there is no off switch! An hour is preferable, but give yourself at least 30 minutes to chill out with a bedtime routine before actually trying to sleep. Think about putting a child to bed, they have a bath, story time, soft lighting and eventually sleep – your needs are no different. Set this routine in stone, so that you can carry it with you no matter where you are. Set a time that you will start your routine, and commit to it. Your body will soon start to learn this is time to start preparing for a full night’s sleep.
Turn them off! All of them! If you have to have a TV in your room (which I don’t suggest), unplug it or cover it up. Allow yourself a relaxing sanctuary that is not full of red and green lights blinking from across the room. Not only can the light from electronics and keep us awake and alert when all we want is the sweet release of sleep, they also affect our melatonin levels which I’ve mentioned more on below. The constant use of electronics to fill gaps has meant that a lot of us don’t know how to just relax and be with ourselves. So set your alarm, then make sure everything else is off, on do not disturb and out of your reach. Yes – all smart phones have a do not disturb setting that will do your sleep wonders!
On a side note, there are very good Apps about that measure your breathing as you sleep and will wake you up in the lightest part of your sleep cycle in the morning. They are well worth checking out if you always wake up groggy!
The perfect time to get some extra hydration in is during the night! Whilst we sleep, our bodies are busy repairing and rejuvenating ready for the next day, so it can use all the help it gets. Try drinking a large glass of water before bed, and then have one waiting for you in the morning. The water at night will keep you refreshed during your bedtime routine and sleep, whilst the glass of water in the morning will be an energising wake up call for your body the next day.
Dim the lighting in the bedroom to something very easy on the eyes and as mentioned before, ensure that when it’s time for lights off – it will be all lights off! Darkness allows our pineal gland to get to work and create melatonin in our bodies; which has been shown to regulate our sleep-wake cycle, blood pressure, body temperature and glucose levels. But by looking at our phones under bright lights right up until the moment we close our eyes for sleep, we are stopping our body doing what it needs to. Studies have shown numerous linked negative health risks from not producing enough melatonin; such as an increased risk of cancer or type 2 diabetes. On top of this, it is natural for us to start to get tired when it is dark, by keeping bright lights around you, you are reinforcing that it is not yet time to sleep.
A further note to this, is there is lots of technology around that will help you with this part. You can get alarm clocks that imitate a sunset and sunrise to help your body adjust. You can also get smart lightbulbs that will start to slowly dim at a specific time and eventually turn off without you having to lift a finger!
I like to take a quick shower before bed, wash my face and visualise washing the cares of the day away! Take some time to pamper yourself, shower, moisturise, brush your hair & teeth, get into some comfy pyjamas. You will feel like a million dollars by the time you reach bed.
Finally, take some time to relax once you get into bed, try not to be so impatient with yourself. You might like to try some in bed yoga, mindful colouring or reading a book to keep your thoughts away from the cares of the day. Once you are ready, turn the lights out to complete darkness and enjoy a beautiful night’s slumber.