Sleeping seems to be the one thing that we don’t ever have enough time for. There are always other things that need to be done, whether it’s working, cleaning the house or watching that last episode of your favourite series on Netflix. And trust me, I am no exception.
Sleeping is, and always has been, one of the things that have taken a backseat in my life. I’m always on the go and my mind races at a million miles an hour, processing everything I have done and I am yet to do. I find it very hard to switch off and often find myself staring at the ceiling 2 hours after I’ve gone to bed, only to spend the following morning dying at work from exhaustion.
That is until recently. I downloaded a sleep tracking app on my phone and have been using it for the last few months. I found that not only was I not getting enough sleep, but I wasn’t getting enough good quality sleep. I’d go to bed at 12pm after an evening of Netflix, expect to fall straight asleep and be fresh for my alarm at 6.30am. How I ever thought that was going to happen I have no idea!
1. Go to bed earlier.
I began going to bed at an earlier time and ignoring screens around an hour before I was going to bed. Where I was tracking between 5 and 6 hours sleep a night, I am now tracking around 8 and I have definitely noticed a difference in my energy levels. I’ve changed a few things to improve my sleep, so wanted to share a few tips for getting more and a better quality sleep.
2. Look at your bed.
If you’ve had your mattress since your early teens and springs dig into your back at every move, it’s probably a good time to buy a new one. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but a good quality mattress will improving your sleep hugely.
My sister and I did this for my Dad just before Christmas and his sleep has dramatically improved, as well as the quality of his dreams. As a man who works various shifts throughout the week, it was really important for us to get his sleep back on track!
3. Relax before bed.
Watching one last episode of American Horror Story or shooting some zombies on your PS4 just before bed isn’t going to help you get to sleep. Do something to calm yourself around 45 minutes to an hour before you go to bed. Read a book in low light or have a bath with a warm drink (not caffeinated!)
4. Quit the afternoon caffeine.
This is probably a bit obvious, but I don’t mean just before bed. I’ve found that not drinking as much caffeine in the afternoon helped to improve my sleep quality hugely.
5. Dim the light.
This is particularly relevant during the summer. Make sure your curtains are thick enough to block out daylight, and don’t sleep with the television on. If you find that your room isn’t dark enough, try sleeping with an eye mask and see how this helps you to sleep.
This also goes for phone screens. Try to keep away from blue light emitted from hand held devices and the television before bed. This can keep you awake for longer and you can mean that your brain takes longer to zone out before being ready for sleep.
6. Create a calming environment.
The smell of lavender is calming and will help you to sleep. Try a small amount of lavender spray on your pillow or around the room.
A tidy bedroom will also help to calm your mind. ‘A cluttered room is a cluttered mind!’ as my Dad used to tell me. But it’s true. If your room is a mess with things everywhere, your mind can take on the same attitude, which again will make it difficult to calm yourself before going to bed.
If your bedroom is bright and bold colours it may not be as calming as a cream or pale purple, for example. You may find that re-decorating your room with calming hues makes it a nice calm place to relax.
A lack of sleep has been linked as a risk factor in many health issues including weight gain, high blood pressure and diabetes. So making sure you get a good amount of sleep and enough good quality sleep is important!
It’s easy to think of sleep as something that you don’t need a lot of, or something you can postpone. But even just an extra hour a night can help to improve your health and wellbeing.
Sleep well, wonderful people.