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12 Simple Steps To Help You Get A Better Night Sleep
There is nothing worse than turning in for the night, needing a good night sleep and then once you’re in bed lying awake, looking at the ceiling. Getting enough sleep is a key tool to looking after your wellbeing – but what if you just can’t get to sleep?
We’ve compiled a few simple steps to stop you counting sheep every night.
1. Keep your work and bedroom separate
It’s important to keep your bedroom or the place you sleep as a place of rest, and something your mind only associates with sleep. If for example you are working from home, try to avoid working in your bedroom, particularly avoiding working on your bed. This also applies to tablets, laptops and phones in the bedroom that could disturb sleep hygiene. Try investing in an alarm clock so you don’t have to rely on your smartphone as an alarm.
2. Limit evening light
If you’re watching TV late at night or checking your social media just before you go to sleep, it’s possible that you are interrupting your sleep. This is because the powerful blue light that comes from phones, computers and TVs blocks the release of melatonin, the hormone our body produces when it’s time to sleep. Having a cut off time for using devices is a good idea if you are struggling to nod off, ideally around 3 hours before. You can also change your devices to night-mode, which will help dim the light to some degree.
3. Avoid caffeine
A late night milky coffee may sound like a nice idea before bed, but the caffeine in coffee can stay in our system for up to 9 hours. It’s a good idea to try to limit caffeine in coffee, teas and fizzy drinks late in the afternoon if you are struggling to sleep.
4. Have a consistent routine
Having a consistent routine when you go to bed is a really great way to help wind down and also remind your body it’s time to go to sleep.
A bedtime routine could look something like this:
- 7:00PM - have dinner
- 7:30PM - watch a programme/laptop time
- 8:30PM - turn off devices
- 8.45PM - take a shower
- 9:15PM - read a book
- 9:45pm - turn off the light
Whilst it doesn’t have to be as rigid as this, the steps before bedtime including eating earlier, turning off devices and taking time to read a book before bed are all conducive to a good nights sleep.
5. Maintain physical exercise
Keeping active in the day is good for you for so many reasons, and one of them is aiding a good night sleep. Exercise makes your body tired, and so it’s important to take a walk, jog or do another form of exercise during the day to help your body feel fatigued and be ready for a good night sleep.
6. Get morning light
Our body and circadian rhythms are designed to adapt to light, and that’s why it’s important to get plenty of light when you wake up in the morning. Opening the curtains will help your body and brain register that it’s morning time and therefore in turn, help us get to sleep later in the day. It is often the case that we don’t have enough light in the morning but get lots of light in the evening (when we watch TV or spend time on our phones) and therefore it confuses the brain. If it is dark at the time you wake up in the morning, it may be helpful to get a light box.
7. Don’t eat large meals before bed
It’s a good idea to avoid eating large and rich meals right before you go to bed. If you eat late then you may be still digesting when you go to sleep, which may in turn disturb your sleep.
8. Practice mindfulness
Some people find practicing mindfulness before bed extremely effective for getting a better night’s kip. Mindfulness is the practice of being in the moment and using simple breathing exercises to do so. This could be something you try before bed, just by spending a few minutes in a comfortable position taking deep breaths in and out.
9. Practice yoga in the evening
Similar to the concept of mindfulness, yoga is another relaxation practice that many find helpful for getting to sleep. If you look on YouTube there are many videos from experience yoga teachers to guide you through a short yoga session and stretch just before you go to sleep. Yoga focuses on movement aligned with your breathing and is a great way to switch off and wind down.
10. Have a herbal tea before bed
Having an herbal tea is another way to relax in the evening. Peppermint, camomile or valerian based teas are all incredibly soothing in the evening. Valerian is often used as a natural sleep remedy and now can be found in many herbal teas, often branded ‘sleepy’ teas.
11. Avoid staying in bed if you can’t get to sleep
If you do get into bed and find yourself struggling to get to sleep, it’s better to get up rather than lie there wide-awake. This comes back to the previous point about your bed being a place associated with sleep and if you find it associated with frustrating night sleep, it may be even more difficult to fall asleep. Try getting up, reading a book or lying in another room and come back to bed when you feel ready to go to sleep.
12. Accept that not all nights are going to be restful
Even if you completed all these steps, it’s important to remember than sometimes we will just have a bad night sleep. We are all subject to stress and sometimes that does mean worst night sleep than others. As long as we are doing the best we can to implement good sleep hygiene, then we know we are trying our very best and sleep will come.
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