Struggling to get some decent shut eye? Tossing and turning with weird dreams? Feeling like your body is conspiring against you? You are not alone.
Lying in bed with worries whirling through our mind, stopping us from drifting off, is not an uncommon phenomenon. All too often when we settle down for the evening, we struggle to switch off our thoughts from the day, constantly going over things that didn’t get done, and making mental notes of what needs to be achieved tomorrow.
Many 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.
But while we can’t erase the many worries and thoughts we have, there are a few small things we can control to help reduce sleep problems. Rescue® have pulled together some top sleep tips to give yourself the best chance of a good night’s rest.
Shut down the electronics
Ban all electronic (laptops, televisions, phones) at least one hour before bed. Not only do these devices interfere with your body’s internal clock, but with easy access to news sources and social media, it’s easy to increase your stress levels and racing thoughts before you try to wind down for bed. Try creating a relaxing bedtime routine by reading a book, having a bath or practicing mindfulness or meditation an hour before bed instead.
We all know that caffeine is a stimulant and should not be consumed before bed, but it’s sometimes hard to resist that 2pm urge for a quick fix when your energy levels are getting low. But the less caffeine you consume in the afternoon, the more likely you are to get a better sleep. And the better-quality sleep you get, the more energetic you’ll feel the next day. Remember fizzy drinks often contain caffeine too, so try to limit those later in the day!
Stay mindful and acknowledge your worries
Do not chastise yourself for having fears or worries. Instead take note of these concerns and write them down a few hours before bed. Observe the thought, 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.
If you are feeling particularly tense before bed, try these exercises from The Stress Management Society to help settle your mind and your breathing before you fall asleep:
- With a deep breath in, raise the shoulders towards the ears and hold them raised for a few seconds (you will be able to feel the tensions that may be accumulating in the shoulders), now take a long slow breath out and drop the shoulders down. Repeat this several times.
- Place the fingers of both hands at the base of your skull; apply slow circular pressures from the base of the skull to the base of the neck.
- Now close your eyes and relax the muscle of the face. Be aware of your eye muscles, your jaw and your forehead. Place the fingers of both hands on each side of the temples and slowly massage in a circular motion. Repeat several times.
- Finish by cupping your hands over your eyes and holding for several seconds. This helps to release tension and tightness in the face.
Leave work outside of the bedroom
It is so important to maintain a routine and separate work from downtime. If you are working from home, make sure you set up a separate workstation and keep a clear demarcation between work and sleep. If you’re in the office, make sure you switch off that computer at the end of the day, and if you take it home with you, don’t open it again!
Though getting some aerobic exercise during the day can help you with a restful sleep, make sure to avoid exercise directly before going to bed as it raises both your heart rate and core body temperature. A cooler bedroom can also help you get to sleep faster and get a better-quality sleep.
Create a calming environment
Blackout curtains and a weighted blanket are great items to help you sleep a little better, but there are a few other things you can do to create a calm environment before you go to sleep. Listening to classical music and meditating before bed can help you relax. White lights can be quite harsh on the eyes so opt for some warm yellow bulbs instead. You could also light some scented candles while you cuddle up with a book, just remember to blow them out before you get to sleep!
Here is a quick pre-sleep checklist you can fill to ensure you create an ideal environment before bed:
- Relaxing music
- Cool bedroom
- Blackout curtains
- Deep breathing
- Electronic devices switched off
- Relaxing bedtime routine
- Comfortable bed
- Weighted blanket
- Bath time
- Quiet room