15 tips to a better nights sleep!
There’s nothing more frustrating than laying in bed for hours trying your best to sleep but failing. Life can be fast paced and sleep issues come into the therapy room thick and fast. Your brain can be adrenalised and overwhelmed. Having a sleep routine is important to train your brain to make the right associations with sleep.
1. Create a peaceful room to begin your wind down, turn lights down dimly in your front room before you go to bed to allow your body to begin producing sleep hormone melatonin, which it needs to go to sleep. Be weary of watching anything high energy or over-stimulating.
2. Ban technology or turn off wifi from 8pm. It interferes with your natural circadian rhythm and prevents that melatonin production. It takes 2 hours for your brain to come down from using technology with laptops and computers being the worst.
3. Allow yourself a proper wind down of at least 90 mins to 2hrs, a soothing bath, reading or meditation before bed. There are plenty of sleep meditations on you tube – find a voice that doesn’t annoy you or there are transcendental meditation or binaural beats if you’d rather no voices. I bang on about meditating all of the time because it really is a tool that can create more peace in your life. 10 minutes a day can make a huge difference.
4. Get to grips with mindfulness. This mindfulness book is an easy read with a cd
We all have that inner critic, sometimes we forget that we have a choice as to whether we listen to it. Our hearts beat, our brain thinks, it’s what it does. Mindfulness teaches us not to hold onto the thoughts and get carried away. Your brain makes positive associations and learns that it can be quieter and when you meditate, you relax and sleep. The quality of sleep is often much better with less wakeful moments through the night. With practice you can step into relaxation mode quicker and quicker and if need be, you can play it to get yourself back off to sleep during the night.
5. List your to do’s by writing them down on paper rather than on list on your phone. Write down anything else that’s bothering you. We write slower than our brain thinks so the act of writing helps our brain to process. Do the same if you wake at night and can’t get back to sleep because of those to do’s. Help your brain to process what it’s trying to figure out. It can be random words or things that don’t make sense, whatever comes. If it’s whirring, put it down.
6. Cut out caffeine or at least only have 1 in the morning to get you going. Caffeine really messes up sleep and can be an anxiety trigger. Some people are more sensitive than they realise. I challenge you to cut it out for 2 weeks (drink plenty of water through the withdrawal headaches) and monitor what happens to your sleep.
7. Don’t eat too late at night, particularly anything sugary as it wakes you up and gives you energy temporarily. Either way you wake up your digestive system which can make it difficult to get to sleep.
8. Get a good quality Magnesium supplement – it interacts with your melatonin levels and soothes the nervous system. You can also buy sprays, bath salts and foot soaks. Also buy a Vitamin B5 – this combats cortisol release if we’re feeling stressed. Lavender and chamomile essential oils or teas are also very soothing.
9. Be weary of naps – 1 hour of sleep during the day is worth 2 at night and its cumulative. If you nap for an hour every day, over the course of a week its worth 14 hours of sleep so you’re getting a nights sleep during the day, which then has an impact at night time. A regular sleep routine is really important – work our how many hours you need to feel re-energised and try to stick with a reasonable wake up time even on weekend lay ins, if you get such pleasure!
10. There are some good sleep books – try
11. Make your bedroom the most pleasurable place that you can – mattress protectors, best pillows, duvet and bedding. The most comfortable mattress that you can find – test every one in the shop if you have to. You spend 7-9 hours per night in bed – make it your sleep heaven. It’s absolutely worth it. But make sure you’re not too hot – being too warm makes for an uncomfortable sleep and can often trigger nightmares. Cool down with layers that you can peel back if you need to.
12. Breathe. Slow your breath down to trigger the relaxation response in your brain. If your body is twitchy, do a body scan meditation. Check in on yourself and your breathe and then focus from your head down to your feet, squeeze muscles and then let them relax, breathing in relaxation and with each out-breath, breathe out the tension. Alternatively you could try a visualisation meditation, imagining your favourite place to be and use all of your senses to take yourself there, feel into it.
13. Avoid fluids for 2 hours before you go to bed and make sure you use the loo before you go to sleep to ensure that your bladder is empty and you won’t need to wake during the night.
14. Exercise during the day can help us use the additional adrenaline produced if your life is fast paced, which then promotes better sleep. Be careful not to exercise within 2 hours of your sleep time, again it takes approximately 2 hours to come back down to earth.
15. Use what you need to – ear plugs and eye mask are my saviour if my sleep begins to enter disturbed patterns, particularly if my husband snores or during early morning waking when those birds start tweeting!
I hope these sleep tips help you.