Getting a good night's sleep is important for the body and mind, but it can be difficult for many of us. Here are some tips to help you fall asleep and feel refreshed.
There are many influences that can contribute to disturbed sleep patterns, including anxiety, changes in routine and external factors such as noise and light. Though we can't do much about a neighbour's late-night music, there are a few things you can try to help you sleep better.
- Include eating well, drinking water and outdoor exercise in your daily routine.
- If at all possible, try not to work in your bedroom. This can cause your brain to associate the room with work rather than sleep.
- Drink less alcohol and caffeine. If you've found your consumption of either of these rising over the last year, try to reduce your levels. With alcohol, try to instill at least two consecutive alcohol-free days per week and when you do drink, try to drink half of what you would normally have.
- There are a huge variety of meditation and mindfulness recordings to help sleep, anxiety levels, stress and alcohol reduction. Find ones that you like and listen to them in bed before you go to sleep.
- Before going to bed, try a relaxing bath or some simple relaxation or stretching exercises - these are especially useful if you've been stuck at a desk all day.
- Create a calming atmosphere in your bedroom by using light dimmers and lavender-scented pillow or room sprays. Ensure your room isn't too hot or noisy - could the combination of an open window and earplugs help you get a better night's sleep?
- If you're woken by your mind racing with tomorrow's to-do list, have a notepad and pen by your bed - when you wake you can write them down - thereby removing the additional stress that keeps the anxiety going round and round in your head.
- If you want to watch TV before bed, try not to watch something that will cause you anxiety like the news. If possible, try to watch something light and entertaining or switch the TV off altogether and listen to a meditation app or calming music instead.
- Remove all devices from phones to iPads and even fitness trackers (if you're finding they cause more stress than solutions at night).
- Try a sleep or breathing technique to keep your mind clear of anxious thoughts. For example, four breaths in - hold for four - four breaths out - repeat. This should allow your brain to switch off and thereby give you a better quality of sleep.