Do you find it hard to get to sleep or do you wake up during the night thinking about things?
Frustrated and tired do you begin watching the clock and start worrying about not getting to sleep or not getting enough sleep?
If you are finding that you are having difficulty sleeping, try following these tips.
Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit and close your eyes. Focus your mind on your breath, inhaling and exhaling deeply. Continue focussing on your breath. Don’t allow your mind to wander to the days activities or the future. Regularly practicing mindfulness meditation for five minutes or more, can help you relax and let go of your daily stresses. A technique that at bedtime, you can also undertake to help your mind relax and fall asleep.
Exercise has been found to help reduce anxiety and stress. Although hitting the gym, or participating in group sports is not an option right now, make sure you undertake some form of exercise each day. Take a walk around the block or try an online workout or yoga class. It takes as little as 5-10 minutes a day to reduce stress, boost mood and keep the body strong while improving alertness during the day and sleep quality.
Get into a routine of setting aside some time each evening to think about the things that have happened during the day and the things that you need to address tomorrow or in coming days. Jot down the problem, or what is worrying you and make plans or develop possible solutions. Writing things down will help you process what you are thinking about and help you free them from your thoughts when it is time to sleep.
Have your evening meal at least two hours before bedtime and avoid caffeine and alcohol late in the day. Allow your mind and body to relax and wind down at least an hour before bed. Play quiet music, read a book or take a bath. Avoid, the evening news, social media and using screens, which emit blue light.
The blue light emitted from devices such as smartphones, tablets, computers and the TV, can at night all reduce the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. This may result in difficulty sleeping and increased drowsiness during the day.
By keeping us engaged and stimulated they are also hard to walk away from and make it difficult for our brains to relax and wind down at the end of the day.
Keep a regular bedtime, and try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. This helps create a natural rhythm, and sleep-wake cycle for your body.
Ensure the bedroom is free of distractions. No televisions, computers, radios and phones.
If your mobile phone is in your room and used as an alarm, ensure it is in do not disturb mode so you are not woken by late night text messages or notifications.
Keep the bedroom dark and ensure the room temperature is not too hot or cold which may make you restless and it difficult to fall asleep. According to the Sleep Council UK
“A cool 16-18°C (60-65°F) is thought to be an ideal temperature in a bedroom. Temperatures over 24°C (71°F) are likely to cause restlessness, while a cold room of about 12°C (53°F) will make it difficult to drop off.”
Make sure your sleep environment is healthy. Dust mites found in bedding are a common cause of asthma, allergies and asthma. Protect-A-Bed mattress, pillow and quilt protectors will provide an allergy barrier against any dust mites living in your mattress or quilts.
“If you get into bed and cannot fall asleep after 20 minutes, get up and return to another space in the house to do a relaxing activity, such as reading or listening to music. Lying in bed awake can create an unhealthy link between your sleeping environment and wakefulness. Instead, you want your bed to conjure sleepy thoughts and feelings only.” - sleepfoundation.org
Getting a good night’s sleep is vital to your health, well being and ability to effectively function during the day, so if you find you are having continuous problems getting a good night’s sleep talk to your doctor.
Sleep well, live well
Friday the 15th of March is World Sleep Day, an annual event arranged by the World Sleep Society, designed to raise awareness of the importance of sleep and draw attention to sleep related issues, and this years focus is on Healthy Sleep, Healthy Ageing.
As we age, our sleep patterns and the amount of sleep we need to help maintain our physical and mental health changes.
“As we get older, the hormones that help us sleep are released earlier in the day. Some older adult’s may feel sleepy earlier than they used to and they may wake up in the early hours of the morning. Melatonin is a hormone that is produced naturally in the body at night which promotes sleep. Older people make less melantonin so they may find it difficult to get off to sleep. Other factors may interfere with sleep and cause awakenings during the night. These include hot flushes in postmenopausal women and the need to go to the toilet during the night.” – Sleep Health Facts Ageing and Sleep. Sleep Health Foundation.
The affects of a lack of sleep on our daily lives and functioning can be significant. A lack of sleep can result in:
And those who are regularly not getting enough sleep tend to look and feel older than they are and have an increased risk of contracting diseases that are associated with ageing such as diabetes and heart disease.
So if you are not getting enough sleep every night, for your long term health and well being, beginning today, make a conscious effort to make some changes that may assist you in getting a better night’s sleep.