We all need it, yet many of us donít get enough of it.
I have been working well into the evenings over the last couple of weeks, and so have not been getting enough sleep as a result. I do know however, that for me this is short term, and I will be back to getting my required amount of sleep again real soon. In the meantime, I know that there are things that I can do to make sure that I am sleeping for much of the time I am in bed.
However, what if that is not you?
What if you have been getting enough hours in bed (7.5-8 hours), yet you still did not get enough sleep?
Your sleep is restless, or you are suffering from insomnia?
What can you do?
Below are 10 suggestions to help you get more sleep:
1) Find a way to work though stress in your life. This might include journal writing, seeing a counsellor, and getting sufficient exercise.
2) Develop a sleep routine. Maybe do some deep relaxation before bed, or some gentle yoga exercises. Make sure that any exercise you do is calming and not energy inducing. A warm shower may also help your body relax. During the later stages of both of my pregnancies; I found that a stretch and a warm shower before bed helped me to get enough sleep.
3) Get up at a regular time - even when you go to bed a bit later. I personally also believe in the power of a morning ritual. This could include what you drink and shower with, as well as a morning meditation or prayer. Morning meditation can influence endocrinological secretions, as it is in the early hours of the morning that hormones of the pituitary glands are secreted. Studies have shown that when stress hormones are allowed to rise in the morning, you can become more susceptible to stress related conditions. (Dharma Singh Khalsa M.D. and Stauth, 2002). A good reason not to set that alarm clock.
4) Donít use backlit screens like your computer, TV or smart phone just before bed, as it can affect your body clock.
5) What you eat in the hours before bed can also affect your sleep. Donít have sugar, coffee or chocolate. My feeling is also that late evening snacking can impact on your sleep patterns as well. Be aware of what you are eating in the evening, and notice what impact it has on you. I've found, and have heard that bananas come highly recommended as a pre bedtime snack if you need one. Worth a try.
6) Play relaxing music. Our bodies tune into what is around them, and in our current busy world that can be a lot. Try listening to music with a slow and gentle tempo (about 60 beats per minute) in the required time before bed. You can also purchase apps or CDs with binaural beats. These create waves at different frequencies, and may help your brain enter the frequency for concentration, relaxation and deep meditation. My personal view is that these are worth a go, but I wouldnít want to start relying on them to ensure I was getting enough sleep.
7) Make your bedroom a place for relaxing and sleeping, and not a place for entertainment (no TVs). Donít take work with you to bed. An easy read, together with some pen and paper (a pre-bed brain dump on paper may allow your mind to let go more easily) is all you need beside your bed.
8) Go on holiday. Take time away from other stressors, and only hang out with people you care about and who care about you. Do those things you love. Spend time in nature. Camping is great as there is less artificial light around, and that might help your body clock re-adjust.
9) Get regular exercise - but not just before bed, although some gentle yoga exercises can help. Exercise is also a great stress buster.
10) Be prepared to stick at it. If, after trying all of the above tips, your insomnia continues - please see a health professional.
Wishing you many good nights of quality sleep. See Part 2 of this series.