9 Tips on Getting a Better Nights Sleep
Having a quality nights sleep is something we all strive for. Rather than just popping a pill which can be habit forming and lead to more sleep problems in the long term, try some of these sleeping tips.
1. Make a hot bath
Not hot enough to make you uncomfortable though. The heat of the water relaxes the muscles and also causes the core body temperature to drop afterwards which sends a sleep signal to the brain. This is great for children too. It only works for baths though, not showers!
2. Get more light during the day
This sounds strange, but its vital for good sleep at night. Our brains are hard wired to go to sleep when it's dark and wake when its light. Not getting enough light during the day will deprogram our biological clock. Once our circadian rhythm has been upset, our brain won't receive the sleep signal when we're ready to go to sleep.
Even if you are working long hours try to get outside into the sunshine for a while at lunchtime. If you live in a part of the world which has short days in winter, install a bright light at home and sit under it for at least 30 minutes. This should be enough to keep that biological clock ticking!
This is a good reason not to watch TV in bed. Even if the program is dull, the bright flickering light of the TV screen will be working against your natural sleep patterns!
3. Don't lie in bed and think about not sleeping
This will only cause stress and make quality sleep even harder to achieve. If you find yourself becoming concerned about not sleeping, get up and make yourself a drink (no caffine) Find something to read. Stay up until you feel sleepy again and only then go back to bed.
4. Set a consistent sleeping pattern
This reinforces the natural biological rhythm and helps your brain send a sleep signal. It also reinforces a habit. Habits are an important part of better sleep. Obviously you won't be able to do this every single night, there will be nights where you might go out to a show or out on the town with friends! However if you manage most nights, this will still work well.
5. Go to bed when you are tired.
This sounds like a direct contradiction of the previous tip. The logic behind this is that is you are not sleepy you will lie in bed awake and will start worrying about not being able to go to sleep. The most important part of all this is to get up at the same time every morning no matter what time you went to bed the night before. Eventually you will feel very sleepy at your normal bedtime. Getting up in the morning when you are still tired is not easy to do but it will help in the longer term. Stick with it!
6. Develop an evening routine.
Do the same things at the same time each night. This programs the unconscious mind that you are preparing for sleep. Brush you teeth, let the cat in, check the locks on the doors. Do each step in the same order. It may sound simplistic but it can work really well.
7. Exercise more during the day.
Exercise relaxes the body and mind as well as being good for your health and helping with weight loss. Even walking just 20-40 minutes a day will help. If walking’s not your thing try Yoga or Qigong. Both are soothing and will relax you totally. If there are no classes near you, videos or CDs are easily available.
8. Practice muscle relaxation.
You can do this during the day or after going to bed. Practice tensing and relaxing each muscle group in turn, starting at the top of the head and gradually working down to the toes. This relaxes the body and also distracts you from any worrying thoughts while you are performing it. Visit the page on relaxation techniques for some easy to follow techniques.
9. Write down worries before going to bed.
There’s always something to worry about isn’t there? These are the things that can keep you awake when your mind won’t let go. Solution? Have a worry time before going to bed. Think of all the problems that are currently in your life and write them down. Make a decision to do something about them the following day.
If you are tempted to think about any of those things while you are trying to sleep simply tell yourself, “its ok, I’ve made a note of it and I’ll handle it tomorrow”