Want a better sleep? Read this.
Sleep is up there with the many things we all want more of these days. There are some people getting a good eight hours but still waking up feeling like they’ve been hit by a bus, there’s others who are getting a few hours of unbroken sleep and many who feel like their days and nights are all rolling into one without any real differentiation. There are also people who hold off going to bed because it’s the only time they get to themselves to wind down. Others hang out for bed to escape the day but find they’re kept awake with a very active mind. The list could go on. Wherever you’re sitting with your sleep, know that it can improve and that you don’t have to be running on empty, always tired or in a fog all the time. That’s why I’ve put together a list of things that you can do to help yourself get better quality sleep!
Try to manage stress
It’s a big one I know and there are SO many things that we can do to reduce and manage stress in our lives. We often go to bed and wake up thinking about all the things that we still have to do, forgot to do and wish we had, and hadn’t done . Being in a constant state of stress creates chronic stress and this can lead to adrenal and chronic fatigue, which essentially show us that we’re burnt out (it’s not fun- trust me!). By managing stress, our stress hormone (cortisol) and sleep hormone (melatonin) can do what they should be doing, when they should be doing it rather than working at the opposite times. What I mean by this is that our cortisol won’t be peaking at nighttime when our melatonin should be, and visa-versa.
Create a relaxing, calm space
Move over snoring partners. No, in all seriousness, there’s lots we can to to create a calm space that’s like a sanctuary and a place to switch-off. We can keep our bedroom tidy and organised, avoid taking work to the bedroom, have soft lighting and then make it as dark as possible when we’re ready to go to bed, have tricky conversations before we jump into bed, have nice fresh sheets and even play calming music such as nature sounds or binaural beats.
Notice how we feel after more and less sleep
Have a think about how many hours of sleep you usually get each night. Once you have a rough idea try to add to it. It might be half-an-hour or an hour, it could be more. Just notice how you feel for having more sleep and if you feel better or worse for it. Then make your times consistent.
Be consistent with your bedtime
Going to bed and waking up at the same time might seem like a hard task. What if our favourite TV show is on or we’re heading out? What if staying up past 10pm means we get some peace and quiet? Well, it’s fine to slip up here and there but if we can stick to a consistent bedtime for the most part, we’ll notice that our body becomes more familiar with what to expect. I recommend getting into bed with lights off no later than 10pm. This will help to avoid getting a second-wind which can keep us awake for another hour or two.
Avoid that 3pm caffeine hit
It can be tempting to grab something to keep us going after we hit our afternoon slump but this impacts the quality of our sleep. Try a herbal tea, some water or a quick walk or stretch instead.
Start winding down earlier
Getting ready for bed doesn’t always just mean toilet, teeth and bed as we got used to as kids. We need to start winding down earlier in the day which can be a challenge given our fast-paced, jam-packed days. From around 3pm, if possible, try to do less intense and taxing jobs and then if you finish work at around 5ish move your body, even if that’s walking home. In the late afternoon and into the night we want to be focused on yin-based, more passive things that don’t require a lot of pushing, focus and productivity. Try to have dinner at around 7pm, connect with others and just relax by watching TV, reading or doing something slowly. At around 9pm (earlier if possible!) switch off the screens and get organised for bed. Remember that we want to aim to be asleep, or at least ready for sleep by 10pm.
Have a shower
If you don’t already have a shower at night, start having one. It can be really calming, help to regulate your body temperature and allow you to ‘wash away’ the day. When you’re in the shower, imagine all the worries, pressures and stressors of the day slowly dropping away and going down the drain. Hopefully you’ll hop out feeling more at ease and ready for bed.
Make a list or do a brain dump
This is great to do if you’re one of those people who stay up late to get things done so you don’t have to remember to do them the next day. Make a list of your top priorities so they’re ready for you in the morning. The brain dump is helpful if you find your mind starts spinning when you put your head on the pillow. Just write down everything that comes to mind. It doesn’t have to make sense and you can tear it up and throw it out. It’s a simple way to de-clutter your mind and put it at ease so you’re not kept awake or carrying all of that into tomorrow’s headspace.
Chances are if you’re not already doing this, you know it would be helpful but are getting stuck in the ‘how’. I used to be stuck in the phase for quite some time as I was working towards getting my mind to stop and clear out (not possible!). If meditation is new to you or something that you find challenging, just start by tracking your breath. You might notice as your chest and belly rise and fall with each inhale and exhale. You can also notice the temperature of your breath on the gap between your nose and mouth as you breathe in and out. Guided meditations are helpful to anchor your focus too until your meditation practice becomes consistent. I have recorded many meditation on the Bloom App for you to have a listen to. I also recommend Insight Timer which is a free app and has a very broad range of meditations to choose from. You can bookmark your favourite mediations on both of these apps to save scrolling through each time.
Before you go to bed lay on the floor and stretch your body in whatever way feels best for you. You might do some spinal twists to unravel from the day, some foam rolling to release tension or even child’s pose or happy baby.
Don’t reach for your phone
I know it can be tempting to check the time or have a scroll through social media but the blue light doesn’t help and neither does the stimulation of our mind. I always have my phone on silent or do not disturb and highly recommend doing so if your phone is going off during the night on a regular basis.
Over time, do your best to combine these tips to form a night-time routine that works for you. This will help your body and mind know that it’s time to wind down rather than jumping from ‘doing’ and being ‘on’ and then expecting to fall asleep straight away.
I’d love to know one thing you’re going to try and what you already find helpful. Share it with me below.
To receive more tips like these straight to your inbox, you can join us here. If you feel like you’ve tried everything but still aren’t having a good quality sleep or are constantly exhausted, please reach out and have a chat with me. You can book a complimentary 30-minute chat here.