A good night’s sleep is incredibly important for keeping our health and wellbeing in tip top condition. Without those vital eight hours of deep sleep, tiredness and fatigue can kick in, wreaking havoc with your energy levels, emotions, productivity and weight.
Suffering from sleepless nights can be extremely stressful and there are many different reasons why you might not be able to get your head down, but we hope that these 5 top tips to help you on your way to the land of nod. Practise these methods over time, to increase the number of hours sleep you are getting each night and to start feeling more like yourself again.
Live the saying, bright and early
The amount of light you are exposed to can significantly affect how well you sleep. Trying to get to sleep in a brightly lit room isn’t the best idea, but did you know that the amount of light you expose yourself to during the day can also have an impact on the amount of sleep you get? It’s all to do with the hormone, melatonin, which helps to control your sleep-wake cycle. Levels of the hormone are increased in darker environment and lessened when it’s light.
Begin by exposing yourself to light when you wake up. Opening the curtains as soon as you get up and having breakfast outside will immediately introduce light into your day. Keep the amount of light shining onto you throughout the day, by heading out for a walk at lunch or even moving your workspace as close to a window as possible.
You should then begin to reduce the amount of light exposure in the evening, by closing the blinds at dusk and avoiding bright screens for the couple of hours before you want to sleep. This will help you body know when it’s nearly time to head to bed, making falling asleep a much simpler process.
Learn the best bedtime routine for you
Getting into a routine is imperative for your body to understand when it’s time to rest. Try to find one that works best for you before bed and stick every day, even at the weekends.
Start by making sure you are in and out of bed at the same time every day. Even if you are left feeling groggy at first, your body will eventually get used to this routine and you’ll find that over time, you can easily fall to sleep when the time comes around.
If worrying about the next day tends to keep you up, be sure to make a list of everything you need to do the next day, before heading to bed. That way, your thoughts are on paper rather than swimming around in your head.
Train yourself to kick bad bedtime habits, such as scrolling through social media, watching tv, and eating too close to your bedtime. Keep yourself busy with some other non-stimulating activities such as reading or meditating.
Give yourself at least 9 or 10 hours
Begin giving yourself plenty of time to get into a state of relaxation, so that you can provide your body with the 8 full hours of sleep it needs and deserves.
If you know you will find it difficult getting to sleep on any given day, make sure you allow yourself 2 hours to wind down before your 8 hours of sleep.
Add in some relaxation techniques before sleep
Whether you’re rushing around cleaning up before bed or coming straight in from an evening out, there’s no way you are about to have a good night’s sleep immediately after. Try carrying out some relaxation techniques before bed, to help your body along in preparing for a good night’s rest.
Breathing heavily, picturing a peaceful place and tensing and relaxing your muscles from the bottom up are all simple ways of helping your body to relax. Alternatively, try taking a bath or listening to soft music or an audio book before bed.
Exercise the right amount at the right time
Regular exercise isn’t just good for our fitness levels but for our sleep health, too. Whilst you might feel exhausted immediately after exercise, you’ll feel a whole lot better in the long run, as exercise can improve how well you sleep. It’s important to understand that the effect of regular exercise on your sleep can take a while, so stick to it and get yourself into a routine to really see the benefits in the near future.
Start with simply adding more steps into your day and increasing the amount you walk over time. Slowly incorporate more high intensity exercise into your routine, such as jogging, swimming or a kettlebells class. The more intense your exercise is, the greater impact it will have on your sleep.