Getting enough good quality sleep is vital for your overall health and sense of well-being and especially so if your waking hours are very pressured. So how is your sleep? Is there room for improvement?
Having good “sleep hygiene” is so important if sleeping is always or even sometimes challenging for you.
Some tips for improving your sleep:
- Decide how many hours of sleep are best for you and working back from when you need to wake up, calculate when you need to start heading up to bed. Then stick to this, discipline yourself to start going up to bed in plenty of time
- Start winding down approximately one hour before you want to go to bed – have dimmer lighting in your rooms, turn off the “blue light” on your digital devices, and come off all devices and screens one hour before bed as these are all mentally stimulating and you want to be calming your thoughts and mental activity at this time.
- If you enjoy watching TV in the evenings, avoid overly dramatic programs – including the news, thrillers and whodunnits. Light entertainment and comedies are more supportive of promoting sleep.
- Don’t over-think your need for sleep as this can have a counter-productive effect. Don’t toss and turn – maybe listen to a “Body scan” meditation or an audiobook (a not too stimulating one) or read if these things help you. Or get up and have a move around and a glass of water if this helps.
- Getting physical exercise and high light levels in the daytime by walking outside, especially when its sunny and particularly in the middle of the day, can also support your sleep by promoting your circadian rhythms.
- Avoid caffeine after 1 pm.
- Avoid napping after about 4 pm. From a Chinese medical viewpoint having a short afternoon nap at about 3 pm is the most effective for calming down the nervous system and catching up on any missed sleep, which in turn can promote better sleep patterns.
- Avoid regular and large quantities of alcohol. It may seem to help you get to sleep initially but can have a tendency to wake people in the early hours. And over time, many people find that reducing or stopping alcohol actually improves their overall sleep quality and length.
- Avoid eating too much too late. There is an ancient Chinese proverb – “Eat breakfast like a King, lunch like a Lord and dinner like a pauper”. Load up your calories earlier in the day as these give you the energy to do the things you need to do. In the evening, your digestive system is switching off, so going to bed with a full and heavy stomach can really inhibit good sleep.
- You may wish to experiment with some essential oils that are known for promoting sleep – like lavender for example, you can burn it in an essential oil diffuser in your bedroom or put a few drops on your pillow before you go to bed.
- You may find drinking a herbal sleep tea blend or camomile helpful just before bed.
This is just a small sample of tips that can help improve sleep so do think about others that you know help you and keep your sleep high on your list of self-care.