Sleep is vital for our brains and bodies to function well. We all know that getting a good nights sleep makes a big difference to how we feel the following day. It can mean the difference between a difficult day being manageable or disastrous.
The good news is that a few simple habits can help you to drift off to a refreshing nights sleep.
1 - No caffeine! I mean it. Not even that comforting cup of tea. Some people may swear that they can drop off straight after a strong black coffee; but most of us will end up having interrupted and light sleep if we drink it. Stay away from it for at least 6 hours before bed. Try a fruit tea or a warm milky drink instead.
2 - No alcohol. Again - seriously. Not even a little night cap. A little tipple may help you to drop off quickly, but it stops you from getting the refreshing sleep we all need for our brains to function well. Don't do it!
3 - No technology in the bedroom. And yes that does include your mobile. I know, I know; we all feel like we will be lost and forgotten if we turn it off. But leave your phone in the hallway where you won't be tempted to quickly look something up. The stimulation that our technology gives us is in direct opposition to what we need before sleep.
4 - Low lights. Turn your lamps on and turn off your main lights. The lower light in the evening will help get you in line with your natural sleep rhythms. In the morning, open your curtains wide and turn those lights on to get yourself going again.
5 - Keep it cool. Turn your heating down or open your window a couple of hours before you go to sleep. Having a slightly cooler bedroom will help you sleep more easily.
6 - Have a hot bath an hour before bed and use the time afterwards to get ready to sleep - put your pj's on, brush your teeth and read a soothing book (a real one - less chance of clicking away onto something more stimulating) or listen to some soothing music. This ritual will help you to wind down.
7 - If you find yourself with thoughts running around your head as soon as you lie down, try some meditation exercises or yoga before bed. Mindfulness and meditation exercises are easy to follow; and can give you some breathing space from worries that are crowding you out.
8- If you have the luxury of a separate bedroom. Don't use your bedroom for other activities such as work or even watching telly. Keep it as a space for sleep only.
9 - If after all this you are still struggling to drop off when you go to bed, get up, leave your bedroom and do something else until you get sleepy. Try a task you find a bit dull or repetitive. Don't stare at the ceiling for hours getting more and more frustrated. By distracting yourself you take the stress out of the situation. When you are feeling sleepy go back to bed.
10 - Have a set time to get up each day. Get up at the same time every day and try to resist that snooze button. If you stick to a set time to get out of bed, you will start to get into a pattern. And if you didn't get much sleep the night before you may be tired enough to sleep better the next evening.
11 - Eat breakfast when you wake up. I know its an odd one when talking about sleep, but we are trying to get into a daily rhythm, and breakfast is part of that. When you get up have breakfast as soon as you can. If you aren't hungry or find eating in the morning difficult, just have some apple slices or something light. This will help you wake up and give you the fuel you need for the day ahead.
It can take some time to reset your natural clock and get into a good sleep patten that works for you. If you persist with these tips for a few of weeks, you will start to notice that you are falling asleep better and that you are feeling more refreshed the following day. Sweet Dreams!