Getting a good night’s sleep is key to being able to function properly in the day and aid recovery from the day that you have had. Here are 5 quick and adaptable steps to take for yourself.
- Create a routine – It’s important to create a routine for yourself when going to bed. This could include going to bed at a similar time during the week nights at an optimal time regarding how much sleep you actually need. For me I need about 7 hours give or take and I need to be up by 7:30am usually so I would aim to be in bed by 11:30pm to midnight. Listen to some relaxing music, have a warm shower or a hot bath before you go to bed, read a book for 30 minutes or have a herbal tea such as chamomile, peppermint or something without caffeine and no sugar. Try different elements for a week or so and see what works best for you. It’s finding a routine that works for you and makes you feel relaxed. It should be something that signals to your body it’s time to slow down and switch off soon. You should only be using your bed for sleep (and sex).
- Switching off gadgets – The blue lights from devices suppresses the production of melatonin. We all know this but sometimes forget the impact that it has on us in reality. It means turning off the tv a little earlier, switching off the laptop (i.e. no netflix in bed!), putting the phone down and going old school and picking up a book if you need to read something before bed. Apple has included in its latest update a feature to reduce the blue light on your phone at night to help with this. It’s still not as good as disconnected but it’s in the right direction. There are downloads for androids, computers and other digital devices such as f.lux. I haven’t personally used it but it aims to dim the light settings on your devices in the evenings.
- Stretching – It’s a great technique for getting your body and mind ready for bed. Your muscles will be relaxed and you will find it easier to find a comfortable position to sleep. I have used Amanda Bisk’s Sleep Better guide. It contains an e-Book and a video of the six poses with a brief explanation of why stretching is good for sleep. I did watch it through before attempting the stretches. The pace is quite quick and doesn’t give you time for both sides so you do need to pause it. The stretches are gentle and floor based so they are focused on being relaxing rather than getting your blood pumping. By focusing on the poses it naturally slows your mind down which helps with sleep preparation.
- Deep Sleep app with Andrew Johnson – This is a great app that has served me well in times when I couldn’t sleep for one reason or another. Once I got over the voice of the man talking it’s fantastic to fall asleep to. I am not sure why this man made me giggle the first few nights that I listened to it. The premise is being tuned into what you are listening to and connect with your body. You can preset the amount of time you want the app to run and at what volume so you don’t have to get up and turn the app off. I would normally be out within the first 5 to 10 minutes easily. On evenings when I am stressed and struggling to unwind it could take me up to 30 minutes to drift off to sleep. The app is available here.
- Eye mask and ear plugs – My sister swears by her eye mask and ear plugs. I am partial to using either depending on the noise or light pollution where I am sleeping. Nobody likes to be kept up by traffic or loud music. Or it can include either a partner or room mate snoring! Closing down the senses by using an eye mask or ear plugs is another way to stop your mind being distracted and focus on falling asleep.