12 Tips For Great Sleep
12 Tips For Great Sleep
Do you know the feeling of lying in bed, tossing and turning not being able to go to or to go back to sleep? It’s called insomnia. And if you do know it, you are not alone. It’s estimated that between 10 to 30% of adults deal with insomnia. Read on to find out how you can have better or even great sleep.
From my own past experience I know how it feels waking at 2am or 3am and lying in bed staring at the ceiling. All the while stressing out about not getting enough sleep to function properly the next day. The perfect recipe not to go back to sleep. Further below are the 11 tips, but let’s start with some background info.
What Is Normal?
What is considered normal? As an adult the ideal amount of sleep is between 7-9 hours. That depends on the individual. I know for myself that I fall closer to the 9 hour bracket. I can get away with 7.5 hours for a little while, but I operate best with almost 9 hours in winter and around 8 hours in summer.
40% of Australians are struggling to get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep. The reasons can be due to lifestyle choices such as going to bed too late, engaging with technology, having interrupted sleep, noisy environments etc.
So it looks like we are a nation of sleep deprived individuals. This brings up the next question: What are the consequences?
Consequences Of Lack Of Sleep
Well on an individual level you might have experienced them yourself. It ranges from daytime sleepiness to falling asleep behind the wheel (yes, apparently 20% of Australians have fallen asleep while driving!). But what are the other consequences apart from feeling less than average when you’re sleep deprived?
- Sleeping less than 6hours per night is associated with 20% increased risk of a heart attack.
- Shorter sleep duration and insomnia is elevating the blood pressure.
- Sleep deprived people consume more calories, leading to weight gain.
- Sleep under 7-9 hours per night is implicated in increased risk of developing diabetes.
- Sleep deprivation is associated with cognitive decline and increased risk of dementia.
For the sake of our own health and wellbeing, having enough sleep is basically non-negotiable.
What Can You Do To Have Great Sleep?
Stop looking at a screen 1 hour before sleep
I know it’s tempting to just quickly check your phone before bedtime, but it’s not helpful for your sleep. Also use a blue light filter on your phone and if you have to work at a computer later in the evening wear blue light filtering glasses.
Use soft lighting at night
Our body clocks work on light. This is regulated by a part of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (or SCN). SCN detects light levels through the eyes and regulates the melatonin secretion. Melatonin is the sleep hormone that makes us tired. Having only soft light without much blue in it at night allows our body clock to adjust
Have a bedroom that promotes sleep
Ideally the bedroom is for sleeping (and sex) only. Make sure it’s quiet and dark during the night. We sleep the better the darker it is. To check if your room is dark enough you can do a simple test. With the lights out, stretch one arm out completely and have the hand facing you. If you still can make out the outline of the hand it’s not dark enough.
Have a good mattress that supports your body and bedding that isn’t too hot or not warm enough. I invite you to have a good look around your bedroom. Does it feel calming? Or is it full of clutter and unloved? The calmer our environment is, the calmer is our mind. And just in case you were wondering, it’s better not to have a TV in the bedroom.
Expose yourself to bright light during the day esp. in the morning
It’s equally important to have bright light during the day so that our body clock works well. If the difference between day and night is only small ie dim light during the day, it causes the Melatonin secretion to be suppressed.
Have a routine
It’s utterly boring, but our body thrives on routine. Ideally go to the bed at the same time every night. And have a routine, it’s almost like signalling the body that it’s time now. In my case, I tend to go to bed around 9:30pm, I take some Magnesium, brush my teeth, clean my face, set the alarm and then read a few pages, switch of the light and turn onto my right side. It’s pretty much the same every night. And so for my body and mind, it signals it’s time to sleep
Be mindful of what you eat and drink
Avoid caffeine containing drinks anytime after midday. The effects of caffeine can last for up to 12 hours after consumption. Also make sure that you have had a balanced diet during the day. This means not going to bed hungry, but also not going to bed overfed. The idea is to keep your blood sugar levels balanced over night, so you don’t wake up because they have dropped. Having some small amounts of protein in your evening meal can help with that.
Have some physical activity every day
Exercise or any physical activity during the day promotes better sleep. However, make sure that it’s not too close to bedtime as it can hype you up too much.
Have a warm shower or bath before bed
If you struggle with going to sleep, having a warm bath or shower before bed can be very beneficial as the resultant drop in body temperature after the shower promotes sleepiness. If you are having a bath adding Epsom salts or calming essential oils can be very helpful as well.
Use essential oils
Essential oils that are calming can increase the sleepiness. Great oils are Lavender, Orange, Mandarin, Ylang ylang and Chamomile. You can either use a diffuser in your bedroom or gently massage 2 drops into the bottom of your feet just before bedtime or apply 1-2 drops at the back of your neck.
Manage your worries
If you find that a racing mind is keeping you awake, it is very useful to have a brain dump before you go to bed. Take some time to write down all the things that worry you into a book or notepad and make a choice to let them go for the night. Because you have written them down, your brain can stop mulling over them as it knows they are safely written down somewhere.
Be aware of your self talk
Guess what, whenever you tell yourself that you are a bad sleeper or that you are struggling with your sleep you program your subconscious to do exactly that. We always underestimate he power of our own self talk (You can find out more about it in this blog The Power of Self Talk). So when you catch yourself having that self-talk, change it to something else. That can be either completely unrelated or you tell yourself that you have had nights when you slept well in the past and that you can do it again.
Use some nutritional or supplemental herbs
Magnesium helps the body to relax and can assist with sleep. Great herbs are Passionflower, Chamomile, Hops or Zyziphus (also called Spiny Jujube) you can easily drink them as a relaxing tea just before bedtime.
If you need more help with your sleep issues feel free to Contact Me to book in for a free 20min exploration session. During this session you can have a chat with me find out what kind of help I might be able to give you. As a Hypnotherapist, Naturopath and Mind-Body Coach I can make sure that you get the restful sleep that you deserve