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Getting a good night’s sleep can become so important, especially when you feel like you are not getting enough rest. There are so many influences on your sleep, many of which may be outside of your control. However, focusing on what is within your remit, can help work towards quality rest, which lends to a better day-time experience, mood, concentration, and motivation.
Human studies continue to demonstrate that getting enough sleep has positive implications on your physical health and emotional wellbeing. Let’s explore some easy-to-adjust-to suggestions to help move the needle in the right direction.
Establish regularity to your day to help promote your bed and night-time experience. Have a set wake time, each day of the week to promote sleep efficiency. Use light exposure to signal to your brain and body that it’s time to wake up and understand that the way you start the day may set the tone for how your day unfolds. Avoid pressing the snooze button as fragmented morning sleep may result in a groggy start. Give yourself time in the morning the get up and ready, prioritising when you can, a stress-free start to the day. Use light and outside activity by day to help promote alertness, especially if you are office bound-take opportunities to untie from technology frequently throughout the day.
Take an opportunity to eat at regular intervals and be mindful of how caffeine intake may affect your ability to have a restful quality of sleep. There is a premise that caffeinated products might be best avoided after lunchtime, and to be conscious of other stimulants such as high sugar foods and energy drinks as well. Large meals and spicy foods can often have a detrimental impact, if consumed too close to sleep time. However, smaller meals including sleep promoting food types such as wholemeal, whole-wheat, turkey, lettuce, banana, warm milk, and honey for example can help.
Prioritise your sleep environment and use your senses to create the perfect haven to allow your brain and body to feel safe and secure, reducing hyper vigilance and enhancing relaxation. De clutter the bedroom, to represent your hopes for your mind to also do the same. Ensure that you like what you see, the colours and décor all have an impact on your experience. If you are using your bedroom as an office, make sure that you can create a distinction between your workspace and your sleep one.
Do you have a big enough bed? Opt for the biggest size that your room will accommodate. If you haven’t already, make sure that your mattress has been replaced in the last 7 years and that it is still comfortable and suiting your current needs. Also think about your bedding and clothes that you wear-do you like the textures, are they cooling, does the fit suit you, helping you to feel comfortable and relaxed? Rely on your sense of smell – avoid synthetics and opt for natural oils or candles in your room.
Is your bedroom cave-like when it is time for sleep? Do the curtains and blinds seal outside light from entering the room, if it isn’t then using an eye mask is a wonderful way of making sure your sleep is protected from lighting that may interfere with the production of the sleep hormone melatonin or signal to your brain to awake when it needs to be sleeping. The bedroom itself is ideally the coolest room in the house, or at least cool when it comes to sleep time. This can help your sleep onset latency and especially so if you can integrate 2-4 sleep promoting activities into your winddown.
Ideally only go to bed when you are tired. Regular bed timing to correspond with your set wake time helps to create regularity that your sleep-wake rhythm thrives on. Integrate some familiar steps before sleep such as gentle stretching exercises, listening to audio books or music, practicing meditation or some light reading.
If you always find it hard to switch off when the lights go out, it could be worth journaling a few hours ahead of bedtime, attempting to empty your brain on the pressing matters that may arise once you want to get to sleep. Develop some breathing strategies that can help you focus and still and quiet yourself:
Lucy Wolfe is a Sleep Consultant, Co-creational Relationship Mentor, Post-Graduate Researcher (PhD), Author of The Baby Sleep Solution and All About the Baby Sleep Solution, creator of “Sleep Through”, a natural bed and body sleep spray and relaxing rub, and Mum of four. She runs a private sleep consulting practice where she provides knowledge, expertise, and valuable support to families around the world. See www.sleepmatters.ie | +35387 2683584 or| firstname.lastname@example.org