Sleep, It doesn’t tend to evade me, I’m usually asleep as my head hits the pillow, but I often hear discussion about having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep. It is such a vital part of our physical, mental and spiritual health, so I thought I would share my top sleep tips – well something must be working, right!? And if it doesn’t then this checklist would be a great place to start.
- Great sleep starts with a great routine – and this starts long before you actually pull your eye mask down. Start turning down the lights, closing the curtains and softening any sounds up to 3 hrs before you are going to bed to start to get your body ready.
- As part of this routine you could add a hot bath or shower about 90mins before you go to sleep. By the time you slide into bed your body will have cooled enough to sleep – this cooling process is a signal to the body that it is time to sleep.
- Another part to this routine is to eliminate screens at least an hour before bed (regardless of bluelight filters) Everyone knows that bluelight keeps that brain awake but all the activity going on on the screen does that too. My phone sleeps in my office where it belongs. The answer to your next question is, I have an alarm on my watch but you could just get an alarm clock 😉 There is no need for them to be in the bedroom and I know if mine was next to me I could not be trusted to disappear down an Insta rabbit hole in the middle of the night! (it is also far better for you not to pick your phone up immediately when your eyes open, but this is a whole other blog!)
- Try and keep this routine to roughly the same times so you get into a great habit and the body and mind get used to winding down to sleep. Waking up at the same time every day also adds to this great routine – as an aside, more and more I wonder about lay ins…. These tend to happen on days when you are free from work, school etc. Aren’t these just the days you should be leaping out of bed and really living?? Don’t get me wrong, I like not having an alarm set from time to time, but I think I’ll leave wasting away in bed until the afternoon to my teenager!
- Write down a plan for the next day and journal anything that is bothering you so you don’t have to take those thoughts to bed with you. You could also have a pad and pen next to your bed, often the best ideas happen just before you drop off or just as you wake up. Just as I am in bed I either write down or just think of about 5-10 things that I am grateful for. Whilst in gratitude you can not be cross or upset and so you are in a much better state of mind to drift off.
- Midnight snacks! Maybe not! It is advised that you are finished eating for the day 3hrs before you go to sleep so that the digestive process has done it’s thing by the time you climb the apples and pears – you don’t want that disturbing you from dropping off or altering your quality of sleep. If you do have to eat something close to bed time a banana is a good choice. Fast digesting and the magnesium promotes sleep – yay! Other foods said to aid sleep are cherries, strawberries and turmeric. Obviously anything caffeinated (including chocolate!!) is to be avoided in the evening at very least. I tend to have a rule of no coffee after about 2.30pm. Although alcohol might seem like a good idea to help you drop off to sleep, the quality of sleep that you have with alcohol in your system is poor and so counterproductive. Also, if you are prone to getting up for the bathroom in the night it might not be the best plan to have a large mug of coco (or glass of whiskey – alcohol is a diuretic!) just before you go to sleep so you can reduce or eliminate these sleep disturbing trips.
- Lavender is renowned for its relaxing properties. You can get pillow mist, have it in your bubble bath or shower gel, massage it into your temples or, our fave, put a few drops in a diffuser and have it diffusing throughout the evening and through the night.
- Your sleeping environment aka your bedroom is really important to you being able to fall asleep and the quality of your sleep. Is it uncluttered, dark, quiet and on the cooler side? All these things will help. Do you love it? Are you looking forward to curling up in there? If the answer is “no” what could you do to change that? Do you need to apply a little feng shui or get a new mattress, bedding or PJ’s? This is not an opportunity to blame me when you move your husband out into the spare room!! 😉
- Quietly listening to a led sleep meditation or theta waves are a lovely way to head off to slumberland. The app insight timer has hundreds or you could look on You Tube. To help my children go to sleep when they were younger I used to do what affectionately became known as “warm light” which was effectively a led meditation, doing a body scan with a healing relaxing warm light. It was so effective I have recorded it and it is in the Study of Vitality Rooms.
- I know it will be no surprise to those that know me that I have managed to fit exercise in here somewhere! Make sure you have worked your body out enough that it is physically tired at the end of the day. We can often feel mentally tired at the end of the day without actually moving a muscle. To complete the cycle, sleep is also really important for an effective workout – look out for a blog on this coming very soon.
Extra extra read all about it!
If you then wake in the night and can’t drop back off to sleep please don’t lay there getting frustrated. Your bedroom is supposed to be a haven of relaxation and calm and it won’t remain that way if you toss and turn. Get up, use the bathroom if you need to, remember to keep the lights down low. If you are in discomfort, stretch, place a hot water bottle on the area or take some pain relief. If this is a frequent cause of waking up you could do some gentle stretches around the affected area before you go to sleep (the first time) if it persists and exercise is not helping (because you are exercising, right!!??) a possible solution could be a new mattress. If your mind is whirring with thoughts, write them down, no judgement, just dump it on the paper and then close the journal or screw the paper up and throw it away.. Then adopt a bit of your evening routine and see if you can trigger that going to bed feeling again. Some light reading or a sleep meditation at this point might be lovely.
I hope you find these tips helpful. Let me know what worked and feel free to get in touch if you have any other great tips to add. The idea is that the power is in your hands and there is often something you can do. Wishing you sweet dreams and sending big love! x