A bad night’s sleep can wreak havoc on the rest of our day. It can significantly affect our concentration, impact on our mood, lessen our energy levels and consequently have a negative influence on our interactions with others.
A good first step is to establish where the problem lies; do we struggle to actually go to sleep in the first place or is it that we wake up and then find it impossible to go back to sleep. Some people find that they awaken in the early hours, their mind racing. For others they are suddenly wide awake, with nothing specific on their mind.
There may be reasons to explain the origins of these sleeping issues. Perhaps the birth of a child prompted the requirement to be alert in case he/she needed attention during the night, or a burglary that caused feelings of insecurity in the home and a need to be extra vigilant.
Let’s look at some tips for better sleep:
– Deal with any practical issues that may be a factor. Ensure that security is good, alarms are working, a child monitor is installed. Find reassurance in knowing that a mother’s often so finely attuned to her baby that she often wakes up seconds before it cries. Recognise the triggers that may be a past or present factor in your sleeping pattern.
– Could sleeping issues be because of a medical condition? Have a check up from your doctor and ensure that your general health is fine. If you’re on medication check that sleeping issues are not a side effect. Some doctors may prescribe melatonin as a short-term option to help reinstate a regular sleeping pattern.
– Clear your bedroom of clutter. Be disciplined. Just because visitors don’t see your bedroom doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter. Clutter and mess create stress. Get into the habit of putting things away.
– Screen off unsightly areas, tidy away your workstation, keep electrical equipment to a minimum. Ensure your bedroom is a welcome haven, a place where you enter and immediately feel calm, comfortable and at peace.
– Check that your bedroom is the right temperature. Many people find that their bedrooms are too warm and that can affect the quality of sleep. Ensure that it is airy and well-ventilated.
– Cultivate a regular habit with regard to bedtime, especially during the week if possible. For many people 10pm or 11pm is seen as an acceptable time for bed when they are working the next day. Establish a routine that your unconscious recognises as moving towards bedtime and sleep.
– Try to wind down before bed, rather than working until the last possible second, then diving into bed and wondering why your mind is still racing. Winding down for two hours before bed allows both your body and mind to start relaxing at the end of a busy day.
– Avoid mental over-stimulation last thing at night. Watching scary, violent films can cause your mind to become over active and may cause nightmares and disturbed sleep.
– Reschedule that deep and meaningful conversation. If there are urgent matters that need discussing try to schedule them at a time when you are both able to contribute fully and respectfully to the conversation. Late at night when you are both tired, irritable or concerned about the following day at work is not conducive to a useful discussion with your partner.
– Practical actions like avoiding heavy, spicy food and too much alcohol late at night can help improve the quality of your sleep. Spirits are recognised for causing disturbed sleep and strange, unsettling dreams.
– Keeping fit improves the way your body functions. Aim to include some exercise in your routine. Many people enjoy walking the dog before bed. It helps draw a line under the day, introduces fresh air into your body and avoids having to let the dog out during the night!
– If you work hard mentally in the day ensure that you compensate by committing to physical exertion. Conversely, if you have a strenuous physical job ensure that you undertake mental activity to provide a counter-balance.
– Do you go to bed and prepare to not sleep? Some people take books, food, drink with them to bed. Instead, go to bed and lie still. Close your eyes and appreciate that your body is taking good care of itself. Cell renewal, digestion, detoxifying, healing all occur as you lie still and allow your body to do what it needs to do at this time.
– Wash away the day’s cares at the end of the day. A shower or relaxing bath can symbolically cleanse away the day’s stresses and strains, help you relax and feel ready for bed. Play soothing music, light scented candles, have a massage, enjoy this special, quality time.
– Hypnotherapy can be an important part of improving the quality of your sleep. Dealing effectively with stress, anxiety, guilt, tension can all help your mind relax and become better able to sleep a healthy, refreshing sleep. It can help reinstate good sleeping habits instead of stressful, unhealthy sleeping patterns.
– Self-hypnosis techniques are a positive way of introducing calm, relaxation into your sleeping routine. Learning how to calm your mind and take yourself to a familiar, comfortable, safe place is another helpful tip for better sleep.