6 Easy Steps To A Good Nights Sleep
1 - Sleep is important
Generally speaking you are more likely to be successful in getting a good nights sleep when you see it as something important. If you regard sleep as a bit of a luxury, to be fitted in when you have done all the other things you want to do then it's not a surprise that it doesn't always come easily. Sure when you eventually get through all the important stuff you may fall asleep quickly from sheer exhaustion BUT on other nights when you want to adopt a more normal sleep pattern you may find sleep eludes you.
The amount of sleep an individual needs does vary from person to person and everyone can sustain a few nights with little sleep, not surprisingly lack of sleep is one of the things that new parents often find hardest to cope with, but lack of sleep impairs cognitive functioning and has an negative impact on physical and emotional health.
2 Get A Sleep Routine
IN many ways humans are creatures of habit and certainly when it comes to sleep having a routine seems to help. That's not to say we must be ridged but it seems common sense that if you go to bed one night at 11pm the nest at 2.30pm and the next at 9pm your body and brain may not pick up the necessary clues that it's time to switch off.
How long you have been awake and what you have been doing will also have an impact on how easy it is to fall asleep. If you lie in bed till 11 am, and their is nothing wrong with this, but it's not a surprise that some people would find it hard to sleep again just 12 hours later. Similarly if you've been having a duvet day it may be harder to sleep the next night than if you'd had a long day with lots of physical activity.
Getting up at a regular time and then going to bed at a regular time tends to mean that your body can fall into a pattern and most people will find this helps them get a good nights sleep. Lots of people also find that if you regularly wake to a 6am alarm your body does that even when you could sleep long, irritating though this might be our bodies seem to like routines.
Enjoy a bedtime drink
3 Preparing For Sleep
Sleep therapists suggest that having a specific period of preparation for sleep makes falling asleep easier. If you do the same things before bedtime each day your body gets the message that it's time for sleep long before your head hits the pillow and you actually close your eyes. After all it's exactly what we do with babies and small children and that kind of bedtime routine is not such a bad idea for us either.
So the idea of a drink, a light snack, a relaxing read your favourite pyjamas will all help you drift off easily. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/insomnia/Pages/bedtimeritual.aspx
Get a comfortable bed
4 Get Your Environment Right
It sounds obvious but most people sleep well when they are comfortable. Yet lots of people sleep on old mattresses and ancient pillows, that might be downright uncomfortable and certainly not good for you body. But to get a good night sleep its not just about the bed but the whole environment - the light, for example as if it is too light it can make sleep difficult and certainly we probably all know how difficult it is to get to sleep if we are too hot or too cold or if there is a noisy party happening around the corner
So invest in creating a place for sleep that feels good for you, that might mean it has to look good to but certainly t should be a place you want to be and that feels comfortable, secure and good.
A sleep mask might help
5 Identify What's Right For You
Work out what works for you. Do you like silence and dark or do you find it easier to drop off when you can hear some subtle noise in the background, some relaxing music or even the rumble of traffic or the hoot of an owl. Do you like the room completely dark, and if the answer is yes then investing in some black out blinds or a eye mask could make a big difference to your sleep during summer months, or do you prefer a soft light do you like the door closed firmly or open a chink.
Although there are some general suggestions, darkness better than bright light, avoiding a heavy meal just before bedtime, there is a huge variation in personal preference as well. So take some time to work out what is best for you. Some people find keeping a diary about sleep for a short while helps, it can certainly help you identify what you did on particular nights when you slept well.
6 Have some strategies
There is nothing worse than lying in bed NOT falling asleep and getting more and more frustrated as the minutes or hours slip by. So if you have had difficulties falling asleep in the past then get your self armed with some strategies. There is lotsof information available so do the research and choose things that will suit you, but in the meantime try
- Recording some relaxing sounds or music
- Learning a deep breathing relaxation routine
- Getting out of bed and try a few relaxing yoga stretches
- Having a distraction available, like a book or audio book, listen for 15 or 30 minutes then try to get to sleep again.
- Having to hand some herbal sleep inducers
Things to Do
Make sure your day has included some exercise
Take time to get your bed and bedroom looking and feeling comfortable
Give yourself time to wind down before going to bed- a few stretches can help as well
Have a light snack but avoid caffeine and heavy foods
When you do get into bed reading may be more relaxing than using your phone or ipad
If you can't sleep try listening to some relaxing music or learn a relaxation routine
Things to Avoid
For a restful nights sleep it's best to avoid a heavy meal before bedtime, basically if you eat a substantial meal you stomach will be working hard to digest it and as you lying down there is a definite possibility of indigestion. Its also worth avoiding stimulants like coffee and although many people think alcohol will help you fall asleep, which it may, but it acts as a diuretic so you may need to wake to use the bathroom and as the night goes on you will dehydrate which means you'll wake with a headache.
It also seems sensible to avoid highly stimulating activities like games on electronic devices where the lighting and flashing can suppress melatonin which is necessary for sleep. While we may all have and the experience of falling asleep during a movie lots of people find they can't sleep immediately after a film or TV programme especially if its tense, dramatic or scary.
Often things like a hot bath are associated with a bed time routine and a warm bath can certainly be relaxing but often it is best to make sure that you don't have a bath immediately before bed especially if it's going to be a very hot one.