“I’ve always envied people who sleep easily. Their brains must be cleaner, the floorboards of the skull well swept, all the little monsters closed up in a steamer trunk at the foot of the bed.” –David Benioff, ‘City of Thieves’
Good quality sleep is one of the cornerstones to an active, enjoyable and productive life. Unfortunately, however, more of us than ever are struggling to get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis. There are a number of reasons for this, from too much screen time to more irregular working patterns. But whatever the reasons for your lack for quality sleep, there are many simple things that can be done in order to get your body into a better sleep rhythm…
Whatever your techniques and habits around getting a good night’s sleep are, or end up being, consistency is the key. The body and the mind, although adaptable, do not do well with a randomly fluctuating routine. Try to go to bed and to get up at around the same time every day so that your body learns to function on a finite amount of sleep every night, and so that it learns when to expect and to prepare for rest.
2. Tech Cleanse
Focusing on a screen is a great way to keep your brain wide awake! Watching TV or scrolling through your socials immediately before bed will not put your brain in an ideal state for sleep. Try to avoid screens for at least an hour before bed, so that you brain activity can start winding down and preparing you for sleep.
3. Prepare for the Morning
‘Switching the brain off’, so to speak, is often a hurdle to getting off to sleep. How many times has your head hit the pillow with thoughts and concerns still thundering through your brain? To try to avoid this, it helps to make sure that you have as little on your mind as possible. Preparing for what you have coming up in the morning is really helpful for this. Before you go to bed, consider laying out tomorrow’s clothes, pre-preparing breakfast, packing your bag, making a to-do list, doing the washing up or tidying up.
4. Be More Active
The body sleeps best when it is tired. If you are struggling to sleep, it may be because you have not burnt all of the day’s fuel. Upping your activity levels will help sleep, as your body will crave rest and repair time. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you now need to start running 10km every day to make sure your body is knackered (although, this won’t do you any harm!). Maybe walk some of the way to work, do half an hour of chores in the evening or add a little yoga to your bedtime routine.
5. Be Careful Around Sugar and Caffeine Before Bed
It may seem like a given, but try not to put sugar or caffeine into your system late at night, as they are stimulants and will play a part in stopping you from sleeping. Caffeine avoidance is fairly straightforward; don’t drink tea, coffee, energy drinks or caffeinated soft drinks late in the evening. Sugar can be a little more elusive. Of course, sweets, chocolate and ice cream are blatantly packed with sugar. However, you might also want to avoid fruit, cereal, flavoured yoghurts and pre-made smoothies if you are particularly sugar sensitive.
6. Big Meals and Eating Late
Digestion uses up a lot of energy. If you are still in the midst of digestion when you go to bed, your body may not be in a fir state to drift off. Therefore, it is best to avoid large meals or eating late at night. Try and keep your dinner time in the early evenings and keep snacking to a minimum.
7. Stories and Meditations
There are many great apps out there that offer stories and guided meditations to help adults get off to sleep. These work so well as they pull the mind away from the many darting thoughts bouncing around in your head; effectively helping to focus the mind and close down the various whirring bits of your brain. Take a look at some of the most popular sleep apps on the market here.
By Chris Thomson
Are you thinking too much about work in bed? Do you think that your work/life balance might be affecting your sleep? Here is some more food for thought… Mindful Living: Your Work/Life Balance
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