4 things to help you sleep
There are lots of reasons why we struggle to get enough sleep; from our hectic lifestyles to the pressure to tick off all items on our daily to do lists and after a busy and demanding day it can be all too hard to “switch off” when you get home. Lots of us also tend to check our social media accounts on our phones or tablets throughout the evening, and the blue light emitted from these devices can cause our minds to stay on full alert.
So how can we get a better night’s sleep? Rescue has a few tips that might help:
1. Natural sleeping remedies
‘How to get to sleep fast’ – it’s something many of us have either asked ourselves, friends or even our good friend Google. For those of us looking for natural remedies to help us achieve a blissful sound sleep, it’s important to check in with ourselves and look at what we’re doing in the hours leading up to bedtime, as these can have a significant impact on how we sleep.
- Switch off all electronics at least an hour before bed
- Practice breathing exercises
- Avoid caffeine in the afternoon
- Avoid spicy foods, alcohol, fatty meals and dairy for dinner
- Avoid exercise before going to bed as it raises both your heart rate and your core body temperature
- Have an herbal tea such as chamomile tea and read a book before bed to help you relax and wind down
- You could also try aromatherapy and get yourself an oil diffuser. Playing around with different scents, such as lavender, can be a nice way to get into that relaxed state of mind
- Stay hydrated
- Create a relaxing bedroom environment
- Listen to some calming music
2. Sleep guided meditation
We’ve all heard of the benefits of regular meditation. It could help you stay grounded, promote emotional health, increase self-awareness, focus on the present, reduce stress, and increase focus throughout the day. But for beginners, the thought of sitting down silently with our thoughts could be a bit overwhelming. Where do you even start? A quick YouTube browse for ‘guided meditation’ will give you plenty of free options if this is something you’d like to try out. There are also some meditation apps on the market such as Headspace, Calm and Aura that are great options if you want to set a reminder or build towards a certain goal.
3. Understanding your sleep cycle
Though understanding our sleep cycle might not help us fall asleep faster, it’s great to know what’s actually happening during our sleep. So, what is a sleep cycle? The sleep cycle is made up of four phases, composed of REM sleep and non-REM sleep, which we will go through every 90 to 110 minutes throughout the night. REM sleep stands for Rapid Eye Movement sleep.
- Phase 1: Non-REM, dozing off. This stage normally only lasts a few minutes, though it can last longer if you’re struggling to fall asleep and get into Phase 2.
- Phase 2: Non-REM, the body is in a more subdued state. Heart rate and body temperature will drop and brain activity will slow down.
- Phase 3: Non-REM, deep sleep. It is much harder to wake up in this phase, and the body will relax even more. This stage is important and allows the body to recover and grow.
- Phase 4: REM sleep. During this phase, brain activity will increase again, and the eyes will begin to move quickly behind the eyelids. REM sleep is also when we experience our most vivid dreams.
The key to waking up feeling refreshed is having been through a sufficient amount of deep sleep, NREM light sleep and REM sleep. You may have been asleep for 8 hours, but you may not have had enough REM or deep sleep. You should be getting approximately 12% deep sleep, 22% REM and the rest light NREM sleep over 7.5-8hours. Sleep is not simply a matter of your brain shutting off, in fact, your brain is incredibly busy when you’re asleep, doing the things that it can’t do when you’re awake. Sleep cycles are key, and it’s the amount of time you are in each of the sleep cycles that is important.
But how can you reduce stress and get enough quality sleep?
- Practise good sleep hygiene by following our natural sleeping remedies tips
- Avoid heavy foods before bedtime
- Fuel your body with healthy, balanced, nutritious meals
- Make time for yourself, through meditation, yoga or walking in nature
- Don’t overwork yourself
- Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time
4. Sleep worries
Journaling regularly can help you become more present, so you’re not apprehending your big change and are ready to tackle things with an open and clear mind. Don’t chastise yourself for having fears or worries, but instead take note of these concerns and write them down a few hours before bed. Observe the thought and acknowledge that its normal to feel like this, but then let it go. After you’ve written down your worries, try writing down three things that you were thankful for that day; these could be small things like hearing your child laugh, the sun shining or a nice home-cooked meal. Mood journaling can also help you notice patterns in your mood and causes for any big shifts. Take a couple of minutes every morning to write down how you’re feeling on a scale of 1 to 10. You could track emotions such as trust, anticipation, fear, joy and sadness. Over time, this might help you understand how your emotions work and what your triggers are.