- Stick to a sleep schedule- yes even on a weekend! This helps to regulate your body clock, could help you to fall and stay asleep for the night and will reduce the build-up of debt.
- Avoid caffeine and Alcohol- Research suggests that caffeine and alcohol should be avoided 4-6 hours before bed. However, this can be hard for many of us especially me as I love tea, so i had to make a compromise and now have my last lovely mug of tea 2 hours before bed and have noticed a difference in my sleep. Alternative hot caffeine free drinks could be drunk in the lead up to bed are Green tea which contains theanine promotes sleep (my fave is Dragonfly Pure Green Tea) and Chamomile.
- Daily Exercise- Yup, I said the E word. But 20- 30 mins light exercise such as a brisk walk, hiking and even household chores a day can help you to fall asleep half an hour earlier and sleep for an hour longer. When life is busy it may seem very hard to squeeze in that 20-30mins but exercise does have a number of positive effects on our general health not just sleep such as helps us to feel happier, have better skin and more energy.
- Bath before bed- Who doesn’t love a nice long soak in the bath after a long hard day? Another bonus it is seen as one of the best ways to help promote sleep. Baths help the body to release the sleep activator and transport it round the body, it causes the muscles to relax more and slows your heart rate then following a bath your body temperature goes down which can make you feel a little light headed and sleepy. Other good tricks to help with bathing would be to drink glass of warm water before a bath to help to lower your blood pressure and try adding Epsom Salts with lavender oil to your bath aids muscle aches and relaxation.
- Ban Electronics- Phones, tablets and TV's have all become such a huge part of society now however the blue light that they emit can have a very negative effect on our ability to fall asleep as the body produces less melatonin because blue light tricks our body into thinking it is day time. So 30 mins before bed adopt a ban on blue light in your bedroom, switch on a lamp read a good book or try some of the relaxation techniques outlined below to help you to relax quicker before sleep.
- Bedroom Temp- I have found this has a massive impact on my ability to fall asleep, if my bedroom is too hot I feel flustered and frustrated then find myself tossing, turning and becoming very irritable on the opposite if am too cold this makes me feel tearful and tense. Both result in me been unable to relax. So I researched the perfect sleeping temperature and found it to be 17-20 degrees. This shaped a new sleep habit for me, I will turn my radiator off around 2 hours before bed and open my bedroom window a little and this seems to regulate the temperature in my bedroom by bedtime and has drastically improved the time it takes me to fall asleep.
Two techniques i have found particularly helpful for sleep are:
- Body Scan: Lay in bed, get comfortable, notice your breath and where your body is in contact with the bed then bring your focus gently down the left leg to the left foot, focus on each toe then the sole of the foot, up your left leg then do your right leg and the rest of your body in the same way noticing any tension. After 'scanning' the whole body in this way, spend time being aware of your body as a whole and of the breath flowing freely around your body.
- Progressive relaxation: Lay in bed, tense your whole body up, clench your fists, scrunch up your face and point your toes then progressive relax the tension from your feet through your legs and up your body, repeat until you fall to sleep. This technique is my absolute FAVE.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth for a count of eight.
If you have tried lots of different techniques, yet you are still struggling to sleep contact your GP if you experience any of the following:
- Takes more than 30mins to fall asleep
- Consistently wake more than a few times and for long periods.
- Nap frequently
- You often fall asleep/ feel sleeping at inappropriate times of the day.
Author: Faye Johnson