Getting a proper night’s sleep is one of the most important things in life to maintain a healthy body and mind. If you are struggling to sleep, this article will help you to understand what is preventing you from sleeping properly and provide useful tips on how to change your lifestyle to help with getting a good night’s sleep.
When you set up your bedroom it’s important to make sure your sleeping environment is comfortable and relaxing. There are a number of things that you can do to help this. It’s important to limit any stimulus which would prevent you from a restful sleep. Blue light found on electronic devices such as televisions and mobile phones can cause restful sleep. It is also important to have blackout curtains or blinds to prevent light from leaking into the room as this can mimic daylight and alter the body’s natural sleeping cycle. Consider the use of white noise, especially if the bedroom seems a little noisier due to living on a main road.
Invest in a comfortable and supportive mattress and pillow. We would normally recommend medium-firm mattresses and a pillow that allows the spine to remain straight thereby relieving pressure of the neck and low back in particular. It may also be helpful to use bedding that helps to moderate the body’s temperature, using natural fibres help to prevent the body from overheating.
Additionally, having a slightly cooler bedroom when sleeping around 18 degrees (depending on each individual) helps to encourage longer deeper sleep cycles.
It is essential to have a set routine when it comes to bedtime, there are a number of things you can do to help with this. It is recommended to have around 9 hours of sleep a night, in order to achieve this it may be necessary to go to sleep earlier. It is recommended that one should start their bedtime routine around 30 mins before the time a person would like to start closing their eyes. The time of a person’s bedtime is dependent on the time they would like to wake up minus 9 hours.
In the evenings make sure to avoid alcoholic drinks and caffeine found in coffee, tea and soft drinks. Caffeine alters the natural sleep cycle especially if consumed within 3-4 hours of one’s normal bedtime. It can be helpful to eat foods rich in proteins for dinner in order to help make a person feel tired, although it is recommended not to eat dinner too close to bedtime (usually around 6-7pm is best).
Regular daily exercise
Exercising during the day can help release important hormones such as adrenaline, which functions to stimulate the body’s fight or flight response. If too much adrenaline is built up in the body and not released through exercise this may create disturbed sleep patterns and cause a person to wake up during the night. However, it is also recommended that a person shouldn’t exercise too close to bed time as this may prevent the body from settling down before sleeping.
Dealing with stress before bedtime
The stress of day to day life can often play on our minds especially around bedtime, as generally we don’t have time to think about these stresses during the day when we are busy. It can therefore be useful to use specific techniques to relax before bedtime.
Routinely combining mindfulness and breathing exercises before sleeping can be a very useful method to reduce stress before bedtime. Mindfulness is a technique that brings our mind to focus on our emotions, thoughts and body without passing judgment. Breathing exercises help us to relax tension in the neck and shoulders, by focusing on breathing deeply through the diaphragm at the lower portion of the lung. This technique will help to reduce neck and back soreness often associated with stress.
Napping during the day
Napping can have both positive or negative effects on the body depending on how long you nap for, your age, and what time of day you take your nap. When we fall asleep we move through different sleep cycles, it is recommended that if feeling tired during the day it may be beneficial to take a “power nap” lasting around 20 minutes, as this is long enough to feel refreshed and alert afterwards without waking up feeling groggy. Napping during the day can help us feel more awake and perform better, this can therefore help with; reducing sleepiness, improving learning, helping memory, and help regulate emotions.
However, some people can find napping counterproductive, as this may impede a person’s ability to fall asleep before bedtime, and cause insomnia.
Key tips for a perfect nap:
- set an alarm to go off after 20 mins
- nap early during the day (early afternoon is best)
- nap in a comfortable environment
- try relaxation exercises before your nap to help reduce stress
Always seek medical advice
If you have tried many different techniques to improve your sleep with no benefits, you should always consult a medical professional, as there are a number of sleep disorders that require more professional management. Sleeping issues may also be a sign of an underlying health condition which can be tested for.
More information about sleep
This article was written by our team of specialist therapists at Perfect Balance Clinic. If you would like more specific advice about how our team can help you with this condition or symptoms you may be having, please complete the contact form below and one of the team will get back to you shortly.