How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep.
In today’s fast-paced world, sleep has become more of a luxury than a necessity. Our bodies need sleep to process what has happened today and to recharge energy resources to fuel us tomorrow. Here are some steps you can take to increase your chances of getting a good night’s sleep:
- Set the Mood – Your bedroom should be dark, cool and quiet. This is optimal for your body to relax and stay asleep. Turn off electronics such as computer, phone and television. Electronics can be distracting and the blue lights on them can make it more difficult to go to sleep and stay asleep – and we all know what happens when the phone pings ;). A spray of Lavender on the pillow can be soothing and a noise machine to mask other noises may be helpful.
- Quiet your Mind – Heading straight to bed after work or an exciting TV program can be difficult because our minds just keep going. Set aside some time to unwind and prepare your body to make the most of the night. Quiet activities may include meditation, taking a hot shower or listening to relaxing music. My favourites include 4-4-8 breathing (breathe in for 4 counts, hold your breath for 4 counts and breathe out for 8 counts) and Gratitude Journalling which is writing down 3 things that went well for the day – a great way to end the day on a good note. Additional Relaxation Exercises can also be helpful.
- Set a Sleep Schedule – Our bodies like routines. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day so that your body learns when it is time to sleep and when it is time to get up. No matter what happens at night, make sure to get up at the scheduled wake up time the next day to reinforce the schedule and avoid naps during the day. You may be tired the first couple of days but this should encourage your body to make the most of the time set aside at night for sleeping.
- Only Sleep in the Bed – Our bodies also learn associations. If you are having difficulty sleeping, you want your body to relearn that your bed is for sleep. To do this, restrict activities in bed to only sex and sleeping and do not sleep anywhere else.; watching TV, social media etc. are stimulating and engaging and can interfere with the association between the bed and sleep. If after 30 minutes of being in bed you have not fallen asleep, get up, go into another room and do a boring activity until you begin to feel tired then return to bed. Repeat as necessary. The goal is that your body learns to go to sleep when it gets into bed.
- Exercise – Exercising regularly reduces stress levels which makes it easier to unwind and uses up excess energy that can keep us up at night. However, exercising late in the day will boost your energy and increase your heart rate which can make it difficult to fall asleep so try to exercise earlier in the day, a few hours before bedtime.
- No Late-Night Eating – Have your meals at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. Late night food can lead to indigestion and make it hard to rest. If you need a late-night snack (it is also hard to sleep hungry), try a cup caffeine-free tea (Chamomile is my favourite), some warm milk or cheese and crackers as these can help your body relax.
- Limit Alochol and Caffeine Intake – Alcohol at night reduces the quality of sleep and will wake you up as it leaves your body – counterintuitive yes, but scientifically proven. Caffeine is a stimulant which can make it harder to fall asleep as it is intended to wake you up.
- Get it Off Your Mind – If you have something on your mind, get up and do it or write it down so that you do not have to worry about whether or not you will remember it in the morning. If this often happens to you, keep a notebook handy by your bed.
*If insomnia (difficulties getting to sleep or staying asleep) becomes overwhelming or persists, then it should be discussed with your doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions and to discuss the possibility of professional intervention.*
A good night’s sleep will make a world of difference in all aspects of your life! And you deserve it!
Ready. Set. Breathe. And Good Night. 🙂