Monday, 22 September 2014

How to nail a good night's sleep (7 tips)

Sleep is such a big thing for me. 

I hate insomnia. I mean that in itself is the dumbest statement ever. I never heard someone they love insomnia. 

Lying in the darkness, ticking through conversations, your to-do list, and any other detritus lying about in your brain. You roll over and look at the clock. 2:21am. Surely you'll fall asleep soon. You lie there for what feels like forever. Toss, turn. Rearrange the covers. Toss, turn. Repeat. Look at the clock 2:26am. Ouch. You count sheep. Those sheep keep coming. Those sheep are not going to stop. 

You get up. Wander around the house. Find that the only movie on right now is Escape from Alcatraz. Not exactly the best sleep inducing fodder, but given your obsession with crime shows, it will have to do. At least the strolling and Clint Eastwood's hairline distracts you. Shakedown.  

After a while you think you'll test the waters and crawl back into bed. It's now 3:42am. Pretty soon the birds will start their morning song. The sun will start creeping it's way into the sky. Life outside your walls will become louder. But you just lie there. Blinking in the darkness. The frustration only works to further awaken you. 

You toss, you turn. Repeat. 

It's not until much later that your eyes become heavy. Your body starts to relax. And voomp. You're asleep. It's just flipped over to 5:16am. You're alarm goes off at 6:02am. 

Sleeplessness. Such a cruel beast. 

I've gathered seven tips to help make for a good night's sleep. Well here's hoping.

1. Don't go to bed with your phone: In fact, ban phones from the boudoir. You don't want your last waking hours to be staring at a lit up screen, being stimulated. Bedrooms are meant to be sanctuaries. Spaces of relaxation and rest. Research shows that you should have a full hour of screen-free time before you hit the sack. 

Oh but you use your phone as your morning alarm? Get a real clock and ditch your incessant social media check ins. Your sleeping self will thank you. 

2. Take a bath: It's science baby! Your body temperature naturally dips around 2 hours before sleep time and bottoms out at around 4am according to a 1997 study conducted by New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center in White Plains, N.Y. When you soak in a hot bath your temperature rises, while the rapid cool-down afterwards relaxes you. A shower, though less effective, can work too.

3. Make a list: So often my mind is churning through the day that's been - and the day to come. I'm processing thoughts, to-do lists, and sometimes it won't stop. I'd love to be able to turn it off, but instead if your brain is busy, make a list. Keep a notebook and pen next to your bed so you can jot down anything that's keeping you up. There's a reason Santa makes lists and checks them twice. So he can sleep.

4. Routines aren't child's play: Get your mind into sleep mode with a routine. Putting out your pyjamas, brushing teeth, washing your face - it all helps your brain get prepared for sleep. 

5. Cut the caffeine: It's really a no-brainer, but try not to drink caffeine after 3pm, try a herbal tea instead.

6. Evict the electronics: By doing something relaxing, such as curling up in a comfy chair with a good book you'll be slowing down your brain. Try cutting out the tv and computer before bedtime so you can really relax. This will help melatonin production (a hormone that helps you get ready to sleep) - production of which is reduced when you're in bright light.

Which brings me to another point, dim the light in your bedroom, and use a small bedside light for reading and getting ready to tuck yourself in. 

7. Exercise: I find days when I exercise, sleeping can be a cinch. My body's worked hard, it's ready for a rest. And we've got the rhythm baby! But try not to exercise late. It brings your body temperature up, it stimulates you. And if you think you can't exercise because you're using the old "I'm too tired" line - that could be your problem. 

Research shows over and over that regular exercise improves heart health and blood pressure, builds bone and muscle and helps fight stress and muscle tension - and lifts your mood. 

Exercise can also help you sleep for longer and more soundly, and help you feel more awake during the day. WINNING!

Got any solid gold sleep tips to share?


weebirdy said...

Oooh they look like v nice. linen sheets. I reckon they would help getting a good night's sleep. Also, we were waking up to mozzies buzzing in our ears and eating us alive. So we invested in one of those repellant things you plug in the wall. It emits some kind of low frequency vibe that mozzies hate. Worked a treat. X

Reannon @shewhorambles said...

My counselor suggested the notebook thing to me years ago & it's worked a treat. Now if only my babies would get the memo about night time= sleep time I'd be all good :)