Many of us are finding it harder to sleep than ever before. Lockdown has played havoc with our usual daily structures and routines. Anxiety levels are on the rise and we are really missing our family and friends. We are spending way more time on our phones and the ability to switch off has become non existent for many of us. As a result many of us are spending our nights wide awake, mindlessly scrolling through our phones and pacing the floors trying to get some much needed shut eye. But the good news is that there are simple steps that we can take to make a big difference to our sleep quality. Here are my 15 tried and tested steps to a great nights sleep:
Set a Pattern
When we are working from home it is very easy for us to not have a proper structure. However going to bed at 10pm one night and 1am the next night is very confusing for the mind and body. In order to get our bodies into a proper sleep cycle we need to have a proper structured routine.
I hate to admit it, but even 10 minutes of exercise a day can make a big difference to our sleep. A bit part of our lockdown insomnia is our lack of movement. Our lives are far more sedentary now than ever before which is wreaking havoc with our sleep cycles. Try and get out and about each day, even if it is just for a short walk.
Put down your Phone
This is arguably the most important point and has been a game changer for me. Blue screen usage has a major impact on our ability to get to sleep. I try to stop using my phone at least one hour before bed and it genuinely makes a huge difference.
Leave your Phone Down!
When we are in bed and are struggling to get to sleep it is very easy for us to reach for our phone. I have often thought ‘I’ll just play with my phone for a little while to tire myself’. Two hours into some Netflix show I’m lying in bed, more awake than ever! Using your phone will stimulate your brain even further so it really is a vicious cycle. If you are not able to get to sleep, get up and do something relaxing to tire yourself out.
Avoid the Late Night Binge
I love a good late evening TV binge as much as the next person. But not only does it go straight to my hips, it also really affects my sleep quality. Eat your evening meal early and if you must eat something before bed, choose a light, easily digestible snack.
Where you can, avoid napping in the afternoon. I love taking a midday nap but it always takes me much longer to get to sleep at night time if I do so. If you have to have a nap during the day, have it as early as possible and don’t nap for too long. You need to make sure you are very tired when your normal bed time comes around.
Avoid Bathroom Trips
Keeping dehydrated is essential for normal body functioning. However drinking too much before bed time and having to wake up for bathroom trips will cause havoc with your sleep pattern. Be sure to hydrate throughout the day and then slow down on the fluid intake at least one hour before bed.
Turn down the Heat
It is much harder to fall asleep and stay asleep if the room is too hot. Have you ever been in a hotel room where the heat came on in the middle of the night and you’ve woken up in a sweat?! It is a horrible sensation. Research has proven that a cool room is far more effective when it comes to getting a great nights sleep.
Cut down the Caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant and therefore drinking it late at night is a recipe for disaster. Caffeine can take up to 6 hours to be eliminated from the body. Furthermore caffeine does not just mean coffee. Caffeine is found in most soda drinks and many other products including chocolate. If you want to enjoy your caffeine fix, do it in the first half of the day.
I love an evening glass of wine. It is probably my favourite way of toasting off a successful days work. But I certainly don’t do it every evening and when I do I generally try to limit it to one glass. It takes our bodies one hour to process one unit of alcohol. In my home measure glass of wine there could be 3 units of alcohol! Our bodies cannot enter a proper sleep state until the alcohol has been fully processed. So if you must have a glass, have it early to make sure you have processed it before getting in to bed.
I have often been guilty of switching off the laptop at 10 o’clock and trying to hop straight into bed. Needless to say when I close my eyes all I see are spreadsheets and visions of my growing to do list! In order to sleep properly we have to switch off our minds. I try to stop all work related activity, even tasks I enjoy, at least one hour before bed. Try to do something relaxing that does not involve too much mental stimulation. If I am watching TV, I find it better to watch something light hearted rather than something very heavy that involves a lot of concentration.
Write it Down
When I have feelings of anxiety over a long to do list or a list of worries, I have always found it very useful to write on a piece of paper everything that is going through my mind. The first benefit of this is that it helps me to put things in context. Not everything on that list has to happen right now and not everything needs to be done by me! But the major benefit of doing this is that I can leave my anxiety on the piece of paper to pick up tomorrow and head off to bed with a clear mind.
A nice long bath, a beautiful lavendar candle or a cup of chamomile tea are great ways of relaxing and helping the body to unwind before bed. Relaxing music or the use of a meditation or pre-sleep youtube video/app have also been very beneficial to me.
Turn down the Lights
Lighting stimulates the brain. Hence why we all find it harder to sleep when there is a full moon! If you want to get a great nights sleep you need to ensure that the room is as dark as possible. Even a small light in the room can be very irritating.
Perhaps it’s the country girl in me but I cannot sleep if the room is not pitch black or if there is any kind of noise at all. Even a small noise can be very irritating when you are trying to sleep. Take a few minutes to make sure your environment is as peaceful as possible and remove any irritations before you ever get into bed.
If you have any genuine health concerns, always consult a medical professional.
I hope that you have found his post useful. Do you have other tips for getting a great nights sleep? As always, I would love to hear from you. We are all in this together.
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