Tips to improve your sleep
Tired of tossing and turning at night? These simple tips can improve your sleep quality and help you feel more energetic and productive during the day. Sleeping well, directly affects your mental and physical health. Poor quality sleep, or not enough sleep on the other hand, can have the opposite effect. Yet so many people struggle to sleep.
Lying wide awake at 3am, can be extremely frustrating, but in actual fact, what you do during the day can have the biggest influence on how you sleep at night. Unhealthy daytime habits and lifestyle choices can leave you tossing and turning at night and adversely affect your mood, brain and heart health, immune system, creativity, vitality and even your weight.
Trying the following health tips may be just what you need to gain better quality sleep, boost your health and improve how you think and feel during the day.
TIP 1 – Get in Sync with your natural sleep-wake cycle
Getting in sync with your natural sleep-wake cycle or circadian rhythm is one of the most important strategies for improving sleep. If you keep a regular sleep-wake cycle you will more refreshed and energized than if you got the same number of hours of sleep at random times.
- Go to bed at the same time each night – choose a time that normally has you feeling tired
- Avoid sleeping in – even on the weekends, as sometimes too much sleep can make you feel as washed out as not enough sleep
- Avoid daytime napping – unless you have a medical reason, needing to sleep during the day is usually a sign that you aren’t getting enough sleep overnight
TIP 2 - Control exposure to light
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that helps to regulate your sleep wake cycle, and it is controlled by light exposure. Your brain secretes melatonin when it’s dark, which is what makes us feel sleepy.
During the daytime:
- Expose yourself to bright sunlight as early as possible in the morning (maybe have your morning coffee outside)
- Spend time outside throughout the day to continue to give the brain the signal to suppress the release of melatonin during the day, to save it up for night-time.
- Let as much natural light into your home and workplace as possible.
- Avoid bright screens within 1-2 hours of bed-time
- Avoid using your backlit mobile phone in bed
- Ensure your bedroom is dark (no lights on)
TIP 3 – Exercise during the day
Exercising during the day not only helps you to sleep better at night, but also helps you feel less sleepy during the day. Regular exercise can aid with insomnia and sleep apnea, as well as increasing the amount of time you spend in deep sleep. The more vigorously you exercise the greater the sleep benefits. If you’re not a fan of exercise, don’t let that concern you, as even a 10 minute walk a day will start to show a difference to your sleep over time.
Be mindful of the time of day that you work out too. It is not advisable to do a vigorous workout within three hours of your bedtime. A yoga or stretching type of workout however, may be even better closer to bedtime.
TIP 4 – Be mindful of what you eat and drink
Caffeinated beverages can really play havoc with your ability to sleep. If you enjoy drinking coffee, make sure you don’t have too many and definitely not late in the day. The caffeine from coffee, which is the stimulant that keeps you awake and alert, can still be in your system 12 hours after drinking it.
Avoid eating a big meal just before going to bed. A late and/or large dinner can affect your ability to get to sleep.
Avoid alcohol before bed also, it can have a stimulatory effect in some people, a little like caffeine. Alcohol can definitely interfere with your sleep-wake cycle.
Avoid drinking large volumes of fluid before bed or your bladder will wake you up to urinate.
TIP 5 – Clear your head before bed
Getting into a little ritual to put the day behind you is a good idea. This could involve getting into bed just 15 minutes earlier, dimming the lights and reading a book, listening to some music or doing a guided meditation. Having thoughts rush through your head as you are trying to go to sleep can make it very difficult to actually switch off. If you need to, take a notepad and pen and write down your concerns, or thoughts for the next day so that you don’t feel the need to hold them in the forefront of your mind while you go to sleep, they will be there on the piece of paper when you wake in the morning.
TIP 6 – Improve your sleep environment
If your mattress is over 8 years old, perhaps it is time to think about getting a new one!?! A supportive mattress can make the world of difference to being able to get comfortable enough to sleep the whole night through. Your pillow is the same. The idea of your pillow and mattress are to hold your spine in a neutral position so that your muscles can rest and recover fully over-night. A pillow that is too high for example, will have one side of your neck muscles stretched and the other side compressed, which is not conducive to full recovery, making you wake up with your muscles already fatigued in the morning. Mattresses that have been zoned are definitely our recommendation, as these allow the heavy parts of our body (or hips and shoulders) to sink deeper into the mattress, resulting in the correct alignment of our spine, allowing full muscle rest and recovery.
The temperature of your room can also affect how well you sleep. Too hot, or too cold can result in poor sleep quality. On average, keeping your body at approximately 18oC is ideal. This may mean an extra layer in winter or sleeping commando in summer!
Reserve your bedroom for sleeping and sex only. Working on your computer in bed or watching TV can make you associate the bedroom with overstimulation. Doing those activities elsewhere, will give your brain the direct command to wind down when you enter your bedroom.
TIP 7 – If you wake up follow these simple rules to get back to sleep
Don’t turn lights on if you need to get up and go to the bathroom, just make your way there and back in the dark. Turning the lights on can really wake you up and affect the release of melatonin as we have already spoke about.
Don’t look at the clock if you do wake up. This wakes you up even more, just roll over and go back to sleep.
Get out of your head. If you start worrying about things, you will struggle to get back to sleep. Write down anything that is really bothering you, so that you can give yourself permission to allow it to exit your mind, as you know it will be written on the piece of paper in the morning.
Slow down your breathing if you do struggle to get back to sleep. Slowing down your breathing will, in turn, slow down your heart rate, which needs to slow down to allow you to fall back to sleep. Just taking a slow breath in to the count of 4 and then pause, and then out to the count of 8, can go a long way to getting your body ready to drift off again.
I hope these tips have been helpful for you. If you are still having trouble with sleep, perhaps you require a little extra help. Sometimes some assistance is required to break the poor sleep pattern. Our Ultra Insomnia Spray is a 100% natural way to assist your body to eliminate the mind chatter and physical restlessness that can occur when you suffer from a poor sleep cycle. Take two sprays in the mouth approximately an hour or so before bed and follow the above tips to enjoy some great quality sleep. If you wake again overnight to use the bathroom, take a further two sprays in the mouth before hitting the pillow again.
We also recommend out aromatherapy sleep range to aid in getting better quality sleep. The pure blend can be used in a diffuser or oil burner and the roll-on can be used directly on the pulse points to allow the aroma to infiltrate your brain centres and give your body the message that it is time for sleep.