Chances are that if you are reading this blog then you are either currently experiencing poor sleep or it is something that has happened to you before and you are looking ways to maintain your good sleep.
The best way to know if you are getting enough sleep is simple. If you have energy during the day and are thinking clearly you are probably getting enough sleep. If you are feeling tired, worn down and a bit fuzzy headed then you probably need more sleep.
With clients I find more often than not that their sleep is one of the first things to be affected when they come to me with a mental health issue and a lack of sleep takes away the rest your mind and body need to maintain the resilience needed to deal with pressures of modern life.
Surveys estimate that around 30% of adults get less than 6 hours sleep per night.
So, here are some proven and solid ways to help regain those lost hours of sleep.
Clear the Clutter: Many people find that they can relax more easily when their bedrooms are not cluttered or full of distractions which helps create a happier and calming space to help their sleep. It also allows you to waken in the morning to a clutter free room which means the first thing you are not seeing when you wake up is clutter or mess which can help start the day on a better note.
Reduce the Caffeine: I am going to put it out there, I love my Coffee. I am not saying you need to eliminate it from your diet but if you are struggling with your sleep try to stay away from caffeine within four to six hours of going to bed. This is because caffeine is a stimulant and half the caffeine you take in at 7pm is still in your system at 11pm.
This won’t magically change within 24 hours but after a few days you should notice an improvement in your sleep.
Establish a Bedtime Routine: What we are talking about here is setting up a soothing bedtime ritual. For those of us who are parents you know how important it is to have these routines in place for a baby so that they can get the sleep they need.
We are no different we need that same routine but somewhere along the line between balancing life, career, family more often than not we lose that routine whether it is due to a lack of time, guilt of doing something for ourselves, the list goes on.
This is where self-care comes into play, we are all different so if we can plan a relaxing routine say 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime which will differ from person to person. Some of us may only need 15 minutes using a meditation app, others may want a bubble bath or hot shower with some calming music playing
Put away the Phone/Tablet/E-Reader: Following on from establishing a relaxing bedtime routine some of us like to get into bed earlier and unwind by reading or having some alone time. The trick we miss with this is that most of us will reach for the phone/tablet/e-reader. We produce a hormone called melatonin that helps us sleep. While all light slows down the production of this hormone, blue light from screens of electronic devices seem to be the most powerful at slowing down the production which is why studies have shown that people who use devices at bedtime take longer to fall asleep
Cut the Nicotine: Just life caffeine, nicotine is stimulant and can affect your sleep. I’m sure you already know a million reasons you should be giving up smoking – now you have a million and one
Avoid Alcohol before Bedtime: Unlike caffeine and nicotine, alcohol is a depressant which is why some people swear by a night-cap before bed helps them sleep. While it may help you to fall asleep at the beginning of the night, while your body absorbs the alcohol some mild withdrawal symptoms occur which may wake you up or put you into a lighter sleep. It can also make you dehydrated so you wake up thirsty or may need to go to the toilet more often.
Exercise: Many of us spend most of our day sitting in front of a computer screen but all the research is there now to show that people who are physically more fit and active have a better quality of sleep. You don’t have to rush out and join a gym or go to a personal trainer but some brisk exercise such as walking 3 times a week for 20-30miuntes will have a noticeable positive impact on your sleep
Try to avoid strenuous exercise later in the evening as exercise temporarily arouses the nervous system and therefore if you exercise too late in the evening it can lead to problems of getting over and maintaining your sleep.
Get up out of Bed: If you can’t get to sleep and are tossing and turning, we can get more and more frustrated with not getting over to sleep. Try getting up and try to do something to relax like read (not from a device) until you feel drowsy then try going back to bed.
Try Counselling: If you have tried everything you can thing of and and you feel that there could be something else causing your sleep problems or if there is a vicious cycle of anxiety over not being able to get to sleep then maybe therapy could work for you.
Investing in some sessions with a counsellor could well be worth the price of getting your sleep and wellbeing back.
If you feel E-Therapy Ni could help please do get in touch we would be delighted to hear from you