Tiredness and sleep deprivation can have a profound impact on both your mental and physical wellbeing, but there are some tricks to improve this. Jane Bozier, mental health nurse and creator of new sleep app Rise, gives us some tips…
Sleep is essential for health, wellbeing, and everyday physical and mental performance; yet a third of people in the UK suffer from lack of sleep. So, if you’re one of those 20 million people suffering, here are some simple tips to develop better pre-sleep habits and prepare your mind and body to drift into a natural, calm sleep.
10 tips for a good night’s sleep
Set a ‘bed time’
Just like children, adults should set a time to go to bed a stick to it. Varying your bed times and creating a lack of routine can confuse the body.
Create a sleep environment
Your bed should be a place for sleep and intimacy. De-clutter your room, take technology out, discard all those things that you do not use and create a calm and tranquil environment that says sleep.
Investing in blackout curtains to darken your bedroom can help support your body’s circadian rhythm. This is your body’s 24-hour rhythm, which includes physical, mental and behaviour changes over the course of the whole day period. Darkness is important to stimulate the natural night time behaviour of sleep.
Develop a pre-sleep mindful routine
Developing a routine which tells your mind and body it is time to sleep can be a big help. Perhaps you could have a warm bath, then clean your teeth and your body and mind will prepare for rest.
Try Yoga or Qi Gong
Exercise before bed might not seem like a good idea, but a few gentle stretches 30 to 60 minutes before you go to bed can actually help your body to relax reducing tension, and getting you ready for a good sleep.
Keep a diary
Sometimes writing things down can help your mind to let go of troubles, but it also gives you the opportunity to remind yourself of what you are grateful for on a daily basis.
Turn off tech
About an hour before you go to bed, make sure you turn off your technology devices. The blue light in technology like tablets and smartphones tricks your mind into thinking that it is daylight, which can interrupt your body’s natural circadian rhythm.
Cut out caffeine
We are a nation of caffeine lovers, but this is actually one of the biggest sleep saboteurs. Try to reduce your overall caffeine intake throughout the day, but it is also a good idea to cut the caffeine out altogether long before you go to bed.
Find a mediation technique that you like and practice for 10 minutes before you go to bed. Becoming more aware of your thoughts, feelings and body sensations helps you to let go of what might keep you awake at night.
It might sound simple, but when you are lying in bed try to take a few slow deep breaths, and repeat this exercise for as long as you like. Breathing is really effective for quietening the chattering mind, and it also reduces your heart rate to help to relax your body.
But most of all…
Don’t worry about not sleeping: The stress of not being able to sleep can become the very thing that stops you from sleeping. If you find yourself lying in bed worrying about not sleeping, get up, go into another room and do something to distract your mind.
Perhaps try a breathing exercise, maybe a few light stretches, read, knit, try mindful colouring or gentle meditation or breathing exercises. When you feel tired, go back to bed.