How you sleep makes all the difference. It affects your mood, your body’s ability to heal, as well as making the difference to how energetic you feel. There are so many things you can do to make sure that you give yourself the best chance of a great nights sleep.
This article provides you our top 7 tips to help you find the sleep you deserve!
1) Take Time To Unwind!
We all have hectic lives. When you are busy you are naturally producing adrenalin. Too much pumping around your body prevents you from getting to sleep. Its nature’s way of making sure that you don’t nod off just as you are about to be pounced on by a tiger! Not a risk these days but our primordial bodies don’t know that!
Have you ever had the feeling of falling when you are just nodding off to sleep? Maybe a big muscle twitch wakes you up just as you are about to drift off? That is your body stopping you sleeping because your adrenalin level is too high. It is frustrating isn’t it when you are feeling really tired and you can’t get off to sleep. You will be able to sleep as soon as your internal environment is right.
Make sure that you take a bit of time out to unwind and relax before you go to bed. You don’t have to assume the lotus position and meditate, just something that you find relaxing whether that be listening to some chill out music or reading.
TV is OK as long as it is a relaxing programme. Still being fuelled up after reacting to stories and events that have caused an emotional reaction is not the setting your brain needs to switch off. Make sure that you stick to the same activities before bed. This will act as a signal to your body that now is the time to unwind and sleep.
Your body loves routine. Going to bed and getting up at around the same time each day will help your internal body clock know what it is supposed to be doing.
2) Select The Best Nightcap.
Avoid caffeine. It is a stimulant and sleeps enemy!
Caffeine is a bit like artificial adrenalin giving you the false sensation of energy. It is far better for your body to be running off its own fuel anyway but at least avoid caffeine for a few hours before bedtime. The effect of caffeine can take up to seven hours to leave your body completely!
Caffeine is in many drinks including tea, coffee, and cocoa dispelling the myth of a hot cocoa before bed. Some soft drinks also contain caffeine. Check the labels including energy drinks, you’ll be surprised what has caffeine in it. Chocolate also contains caffeine so no evening snacking…
Other stimulants include cigarettes and alcohol so these are best avoided in the 1-2 hours before bedtime too.
It is not only about what you drink either. It is far better to leave a few hours between eating your evening meal and bedtime so that your body has already begun digesting your food.
3) Clear The Brain Before Your Head Hits The Pillow.
If you have 20 million things to do, or have something troubling you these thoughts often keeping circling round and around in your head. Your brain has the habit of doing this just as you are trying your best to get off to sleep. They go round, and around, and around – the same old thoughts again and again. Your brain is doing its best to keep remembering what needs to be done or running through your worries.
The best thing to do is write it all down, ideally earlier on in the day. Once everything is down in words your mind knows it has been dealt with and can park the thoughts. It is worthwhile not only writing your thoughts down but also what your next steps are going to be to resolve the problem or do the job.
If you still have worries running through your head then flip it around into a positive event. Focus on happy memories and events and think about those.
If all else fails set your brain a task. It will help to give it focus. The task is not one that is creative or problem solving but one where you already know the answers. I find it particularly helpful to do my times tables in my head (yes really) forwards and then backwards. Two times table, three times table etc. Or you could think of vegetables, how many can you name? What about listing all the films you have watched? The possibilities are endless!
Keep your brain focused on this one task though, it is amazing how your brain can wonder “Films I have watched now there was Kings Speech, A Few Good Men, Austin Powers….oh yeah that was so funny when he is trying to turn round and gets jammed between the walls, ummm parking isn’t it just so annoying when people park across two parking spots, oh yeah and when they drive in the middle lane of the motorway……” I’m sure you get the drift.
Your mind can send you off on a massive irrelevant tangent in no time at all. When you notice your mind drifting, bring it back to the task. It won’t take long for your mind to slow down, begin to relax and the zzzzzz’s will follow.
4) The Bedroom Is For Sleeping (And Sex) Only!
As we have already mentioned your brain works well by association and routine. So other than your evening wind down routine, your bed is only meant for intimacy and sleeping. It is not to be used for studying, working on the laptop, going through paper work, surfing the Internet or texting. These are all activities that stimulate the brain, which is not conducive to sleep.
5) Keep Up The Exercise.
Exercise is good on so many levels. It keeps us fit, supple and healthy. It helps us burn off extra calories, reduces anxiety and depression and even helps us to sleep better.
Avoid exercise too close to bedtime though. Our old friend Adrenaline plus other stimulants are created with vigorous exercise. Make sure that you have at least 1-2 hours before you want to sleep to allow you body to calm down again.
6) Create A Peaceful Environment.
Your bedroom needs to be set up for sleeping. Make sure that the room is at a comfortable temperature the cold can cause nightmares! Also make sure your room is quiet and that the curtains are effectively blocking out any light from outside.
7) Be Sure You’re Supported!
If you are uncomfortable in bed it is going to be difficult to get off and stay asleep. It is a bit like the Goldilocks situation. A bed that is too hard, hot or lumpy will not give you the best chance of getting off and staying asleep. You can learn more about that in our page on how to check your pillow.