When it comes to sleep, you might have gotten into some pretty bad habits. You may have started watching the latest Netflix drama on your laptop in bed, for one. (Now it’s a miracle if you sleep before 1 am, and usually your dreams are of the violent, cliffhanger variety). Perhaps you have started to raid the fridge for late-night snacks, which will also keep you awake for longer. And when you do manage to fall asleep, do you find yourself waking up an hour or two later needing the bathroom after those few beers or glasses of wine that you enjoyed after work. If you find it difficult to get a good nights sleep, fear not, a better nights sleep can be yours by following these simple but effective steps.
1. Create an Evening Routine
Ok, it might sound dull…but trust me on this, don’t knock it until you have tried it! By following the same steps before bed every night, your body and mind will start to realize that sleepytime is not far away. Before you hit the hay, perhaps treat yourself to a nice soothing bath. Read a physical book, burn some relaxing essential oils, do some yoga stretches, listen to a guided meditation or write in your journal. All of these activities will help you calm down after a busy day and set you up for a great nights sleep.
2. Keep The Office Out of The Bedroom
We are all guilty of it: watching TV, checking our phones and updating our profiles right before bed. It may seem harmless enough, but the blue light these screens emit actually inhibit sleep. For one, they overstimulate the mind, even if you might not be aware of it. For another, they block the production of serotonin in the body, which we rely on to make us feel nice ‘n’ sleepy.
So leave the screens out of your sleep sanctuary; better still, turn them off an hour before bedtime. You will be surprised at how much deeper your sleep will be.
3. Chow Down on Sleep-Promoters
There are plenty of foods and drink you can avoid to rid yourself of bad sleeping habits; caffeine and sugar are chief among them. If you need a coffee fix during the day, make sure it is before 2pm as caffeine can take up to 6 hours to leave your system.
But there are also sleep-promoting foods you can eat – foods such as bananas, almonds, kiwis, sesame seeds, sweet potatoes and wholemeal toast. These all benefit our sleep in different ways; some contain mind-calming magnesium, others muscle-relaxing potassium, while others simply keep us fuller for longer. No more rumbling tummies disturbing your sleep.
So get snacking on more sensible stuff – and your sleep will thank you for it.
4. Get Your Zen On
I have already mentioned meditation in your evening routine, but this habit is also worth a point of its own. Although meditation might seem like an difficult undertaking at first, it is pretty much the best way to keep your mind calm at any time of day. And if a restless, anxious mind is what’s keeping you up at night – don’t worry, it happens to the best of us – meditation could be your ticket to Snoozeville.
I would recommend starting with a short guided meditation, of which there are plenty on YouTube. Or simply try a ‘progressive tension’ exercise yourself instead. Lying on your back, imagine that you are first tensing and then releasing your toes, ankles, calves, knees and thighs. Work your way up the body all the way to your neck and head, your eyes, mouth etc, until you feel your body heavy and sinking into the bed/floor. This is a great way to relax both body and mind before settling into a better sleep.
5. Hydrate as Needed
By this, I mean swap sugary drinks and alcohol for water! Sure, a beer or a glass of wine can help us to unwind after a long day; but they actually disrupt our sleep that night. Even if you find it easier to fall asleep after alcohol, the sleep quality that you are getting is actually much lower and chances are you will wake up during the night as a result. Not to mention a full bladder waking you for the bathroom!
Speaking of which, I am a big advocate in drinking plenty of water during the day. But having too many glasses of the stuff right before bed, or especially herbal teas, can send you running for the bathroom in the middle of the night. And it can be a real pain getting back to sleep afterwards. So drink enough water during the day, have a few sips before you go to bed (to avoid waking up thirsty) and sleep right through until morning.
That’s a wrap!
Now that you have seen how to rid yourself of bad habits and pick up some more useful ones, a better sleep now awaits you. Enjoy your new evening routine, that is free from phone screens and caffeine and is instead full of tasty sleep-promoting snacks. Give meditation a try, and any pre-bedtime alcohol a miss. Start sleeping better and waking up brighter in the morning. And if you need any more tips on sleep, whether it is on meditation exercises, sleeping positions or reviews on comfortable beds, check out what the guys from the Sleep Advisor have to say.