Sleep – 7 secrets for a peaceful slumber

Having trouble getting a good night sleep is a common complaint. We’ve all had nights where we’ve been tossing and turning desperate to fall asleep so here I share some top tips for to help you get a peaceful slumber. Even if you’d had insomnia for some time you may find that making a few simple changes can make a difference and have you sleeping soundly soon!

1) Let Go of the Day

Your body and mind need time to switch off and unwind from the stress and worries of the day. If you’ve had a particularly stressful day you might find it helpful to spend some time journalling what has happened and making a list of things you need to do for tomorrow so you can let go of it. If you don’t like writing you can try a visualisation instead. Go through one by one each of your concerns then go back to the first one and imagine yourself taking this and putting it into a box do this for each of your worries and then imagine closing the box and locking it until tomorrow.

2) Create consistency

 One of the simplest ways to train your body to sleep well is to be consistent about the time you go to bed and the time you get up. This may sound rubbish to do on weekends and your days off but the regular pattern will give your body something to work from and will make you feel better.
To work out how much sleep you need you can use this sleep calculator.

3) Respect your bed

It’s easy to get into a habit of watching TV, doing work on a laptop, or eating in bed but when you do you create associations of your bed being used for this rather than for sleeping and sex, which are the two things you want your body to connect your bed with. Try and use your bed only for sleeping and sex.

4) Create a Ritual

Do you have a bedtime routine? It’s helpful to create one to signal to your body that it’s time to sleep. Some people find it useful to have some herbal tea – valerian, camomile, lime blossom, do some breathing exercises, relaxing stretches or journalling reviewing your day. Having a hot bath or shower can also help as the hot water will raise your body temperature and when it drops afterwards it can make you feel sleepy. Putting essential oil into your bath can help calm the mind – Lavender, Vetiver and Roman Chamomile are good choices.

5) Embrace Darkness

TV’s, laptops, and mobiles can affect your sleep if you are in the habit of using them just before or even whilst in bed. The light they emit sends a signal to our brain to delay the production of melatonin, a hormone which promotes sleep. Try and not use them for at least 30 mins before you want to go to sleep. Also check your room is dark enough for sleep, if there is a light pollution outside get thicker curtains or wear an eye mask.

6) Foods that affect sleep

If you go to bed hungry or too full your sleep will be disrupted. Caffeine and Nicotine are stimulants and interefere with the ability to sleep so try and avoid these for at least 5 hours before bedtime. Try to eat foods that contain tryptophan, a sleep inducer – such as turkey, banana, green vegetables, oily fish and milk.
Research has also shown that eating kiwi fruit for dinner or an hour before bed can promote sleep due to the high serontin levels.

7) If you can’t sleep

After about 20 mins or so get up and do something non- stimulating .i.e. don’t make yourself a cup of tea, have a cigarette or eat some chocolate. Instead preferably in the dark do something boring go and sit quietly or with a sidelight maybe read. Pick something boring to read and not the book you have been loving reading and are dying to find out what happens!
Think that however you spend this time you are teaching your brain either that what you are doing is so boring there’s no point staying awake or that it’s something exciting or worthwhile to be awake which is why I suggest you stay away from anything you enjoy. When you start to feel sleepy again go back to bed.
If you are really struggling with your sleep you might want to pick one thing above and try that out for a week and then slowly incorporate the rest into your routine.
This is only an introduction for more support with sleep you can contact the Sleep Council or the Sleep Foundation.
What do you find helps you to sleep better?

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