Getting in a good night’s sleep is an essential part of being productive, healthy and happy. Starting the day with a good 8 or more hours under your belt is pure gold. You feel fresh, alert and energized.
In contrast, a poor night’s rest leaves you drained, and even small tasks in your day feel like a massive effort. There’s a reason sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture, because it’s just that, torture! Ask any new parent who’s been up all night with a baby, not getting the rest you need is no fun at all.
Stress plays a key role in the disruption of healthy sleep patterns. With the fast pace of life, it’s not always easy to switch off your brain before bed, and this can result in insomnia, sleep anxiety, sleep apnea and even sleep regression in children.
If sleep has been eluding you, here are some tried and tested hacks that will have you drifting off to dreamland in record time.
Let’s start with the very foundation of sleep. A comfortable place to lay your weary bones. Without having to spend a small fortune on a new bed, you could pick up a mattress topper for a fraction of the price and transform your sleeping comfort.
The reason for a bed that offers the right support is spinal alignment. Depending if you’re a back, side or stomach sleeper, good support will make sure you wake refreshed and without back, shoulder or hip aches and pain.
If you have children, a quality mattress is just as important for them to avoid sleep disruptions. If they sleep through, chances are you will too. Check out Well Worth Living for tips on selecting the best mattress for your kids.
No Electronic Devices
The blue light emitted by electronic devices like tablets and computer screens has a higher concentration of light. As the day comes to an end and darkness sets in, our bodies are conditioned to start producing more melatonin which is a natural sleep-inducing hormone.
By staring at a brightly lit screen just before bed, we stimulate serotonin levels instead, these do the opposite of ensuring a good night’s rest. Make a habit of switching off your phones and tablets at least 30 minutes before bed. If you need to use a device before bedtime, consider purchasing blue light blocking glasses like these ones.
Rooms that don’t have access to fresh air can become toxic, to the extent that it can affect your health and disrupt your natural sleep patterns. Open windows to ensure the air in your bedroom is allowed to circulate.
In winter, it’s not always easy to do, in the effort to conserve heat. In these cases, an air purifier will help remove unwanted contaminants from the air. Without dust and pollen in the air you breathe, you’ll be less likely to suffer from allergies and the resulting postnasal drip that causes coughing a disrupted night.
Air cleansing plants are another attractive and effective way to freshen up a room. They are easy to grow indoors and fulfil their natural purpose of reducing CO2 levels while replacing them with clean, fresh, breathable air.
Block Out Light and Noise
For the ideal cocoon as you lay down for the night, create a dark and noise free environment to help guarantee a great night. Think “hotel room” silence and darkness. Blackout curtains not only block out light from street lamps, passing cars and daylight, they are also excellent for noise dampening.
Install dimmers to create a calm mood in the room as you wind down for the night. If you share a room with a partner that has slightly different bedtimes and getting up times, carpets also dampen natural sounds like footsteps, so you can sleep on while they do their thing.
A messy and cluttered environment is not conducive to relaxation and de-stressing. When you arrive home after a busy day, the last thing you want to face is a messy home. If you have to sort a pile of laundry, handle dirty dishes or any form of chaos, it will only add to feelings of overwhelm and exhaustion.
Take a weekend to plan, organize and throw out things that no longer serve you. If the items you use on a regular basis have a designated storage spot, cleaning up becomes a breeze.
Living in an ordered space that is free of clutter, allows you to truly relax in a room as opposed to avoiding it. If you have kids, investing in furniture with clever storage solutions will mean you don’t have to face the madness that comes with toys, toys and more toys.
If you battle to sleep, introduce a few bedtime rituals that add up to a beautiful night’s rest. Bath time is a great way to relax, unwind and wash away the layers of your day. Use scented candles and bath oils to help relax you and soothe your body and mind. Lavender is the perfect scent for this purpose.
Avoid sugary or caffeinated drinks close to bedtime. Make a list of things you want to do the following day, so your brain can switch off, knowing it can pick up where you left off in the morning.
Don’t waste brain power on low-level tasks. Write them down and handle them systematically. Remembering to buy milk and bread on your way home does not need to add to your stress load.
Journaling is another effective tool that will help purge your thoughts of the day as well as order them. Write down at least one thing that you are grateful for in your day. If its been a record low of a day, still looking for that little beam of light. It could be a beautiful blue sky or a smile from a stranger, but find one thing to close the day on a positive note.
Exercise and Good Food
How you look after and feed your body, goes a long way to ensure a healthy sleep routine. Poor sleep results in low energy which creates a knock on effect. Managing even simple tasks in your day becomes challenging, and this, in turn, increases stress levels and further disrupts your sleep.
The cycle has to be broken and you can start with a step as simple as taking a walk. The stress hormone, cortisol, needs to be worked out of your system and this can be done with light exercise. You don’t have to reinvent your entire lifestyle overnight.
Select one area or bad habit in your life that can do with some improvement and work on that. Have a glass of water in the morning instead of a cup of coffee or replace sugar with fruit. Walk or stretch for 15 minutes before work or before getting home in the evening, and build on that as you feel stronger and more rested.
Above all, be considerate and kind to yourself. If a stressful home or work life is affecting the quality of your existence, make changes. Learn to say no and set boundaries. Make time for things that you enjoy and feed your soul. These are not selfish choices, they allow you to be the happiest and healthiest version of yourself and these positive emotions will be felt by all around you.
With a happy body and mind, you will manage any challenges that come your way with efficiency, and when you sleep, it will be sound, restorative and something you look forward to.