Do you struggle with sleep? I know I do. I can’t put my finger on exactly why although the last 4 years have been somewhat chaotic so I shouldn’t be surprised really. So I thought I should make myself Really Useful and try to make some sense of it all for you guys. This is going to be the first part of a two part series on sleep. In this first part I will share with you great tips for a pre-bedtime routine. But firstly just see the kind of yuk things that can be the result of a lack of sleep or bad sleeping habits:
- A weakened immune system
- Impaired memory
- Decreased problem solving abilities
- Can lead to depression
- Increased blood pressure
A Few Sleepy Snippets
- It is actually not really known definitively why our bodies sleep but they do.
- To be at our best mentally and physically 90% of us need 7-8 hours of good sleep each night.
- When we are asleep our bodies use as much energy as when we are awake but at rest.
- Our brain does not shut down whilst we sleep it remains active and so requires energy.
- Our bodies/brains produce a hormone called Melatonin. This is the hormone we produce that tells our body to sleep, thus it controls our Circadian Rhythms (More about all this later in Part 3).
First Things First
Let us start with some ideas that come into play before we even set foot into our bedrooms. As I can certainly attest to, doing all these things every single day is just not practically possible but I am trying out as many as I can. Once you decide on which ideas can work for you try sticking to them for at least 4 week. After 4 weeks analyse which work for you and stick with them or, if you need to try some of the others.
- Pick a bedtime and stick to it as much as possible
- No afternoon sofa snoozing or napping. 10 minute power naps can be a good thing but keep it short.
- Keep caffeine for mornings and early afternoons
- Don’t eat a large meal within 2 hours of going to bed but do not go to bed hungry. A high protein light supper is a good idea though as this will help stimulate melatonin production.
- Don’t exercise within 2 hours of bedtime but taking regular exercise will improve your sleep
- Don’t drink large quantities of any liquid within an hour of going to bed
- Stop working at least an hour before bed time and don’t work in bed
- No arguing or emotional discussions before bedtime
- Prepare for the next day to stop you worrying about it during the night
- Do I need to mention alcohol (nope – like I said, we can’t do them all!)
- We don’t all have a Pensieve like Professor Dumbledore in Harry Potter but we can keep a journal in a book. In the evening write down all those irritations, fears & anxieties, hopes and dreams that pray on our minds during the night. Then shut the book and put it away in a drawer!
- Nicotine is a stimulant so a bedtime cigarette is off the agenda for you guys who are smokers.
- Establish an electronics curfew. Set the record button for your favourite late night TV shows and keep the TV out of the bedroom. Turn off those phones, tablets, laptops, game consoles an hour before bedtime. The blue light screens emit is a stimulant for our brains. This is a really interesting little video by Dr Dan Siegel from UCLA School Of Medicine on the dangers of using screens before bed.
For me, the fixed bedtime, no caffeine after 5pm, a screens curfew and next day preparations are my favourites and definitely have had a noticeable effect. See how many of these you can implement into your lifestyle to improve your nights sleep. Even just taking one or two small steps from the list can improve your sleep.See how many of these tips you can implement into your lifestyle to improve your night's sleep Click To Tweet
Watch out for part 2 coming soon for Really Useful tips on Operation Sleep! In part 2 we’ll look at, amongst other things, Pillow and bed choices and how these can affect sleep. Until next week…