Getting Good Sleep and some strategies to help when sleep becomes disturbed
Written by Grainne Parker
I love my sleep, like to get to bed relatively early most nights but do suffer from poor sleep from time to time. There was a time when I hardly slept, waking most nights at 3am, waking feeling like I was paralysed or waking from terrible nightmares of love and loss. That’s what grief did to me but thankfully those days of poor sleep are mostly behind me. From my studies and my own personal experience, I share some practical tips on how to improve your sleep. Sleeping well is essential for recovery, rejuvenation, learning and memory consolidation as well as being an all-round good mood enhancer. Have you ever felt ratty and tired from a bout of poor sleep? Read on so for some strategies which should help improve the quality of your sleep.
No electronics – blue light disrupts your Melatonin (What I Call your lullaby hormone) and your body will stop trying to go to sleep. This is one of the worst culprits when it comes to your sleep. Get rid of the phones, tablets even tv’s from the room.
Caffeine and Alcohol – Both disrupt your sleep either waking you or reducing the quantity and quality of restorative sleep.
Exercise – we all know exercise if great for you but not too close to bed time or you will be over stimulated and no longer ready for sleep.
Food – there are foods which can mimic or cause anxiety and this will disrupt your sleep. These include sugar, caffeine and alcohol so watch your overall intake and in the case of caffeine have a watershed after which you don’t have any.
Magnesium – great for good sleep, a magnesium spray or supplement is helpful if you suffer from poor sleep.
Tell your body it's bed time with a routine of relaxation - a regular cup of peppermint tea or a bath will signal the body that it is time for bed.
If there is something really worrying you going on then find someone to talk to, to help work it out. Suffering from Depression can impact your sleep and this needs professional help from a GP or qualified therapist who knows how to help treat you. Worries on your mind, not depression can often be solved by making a list before bedtime which tells the brain that you no longer need to think about it as it is on a list ready to be tackled in the morning.
If you find your brain going over and over with racing thoughts then it needs to be trained to literally switch off. Meditation is crucial and very helpful for this. Download the Calm App or Headspace if you need some help then remember to switch the phone off when you are done!
Sleep restriction can also be helpful in the case of poor sleep – don’t lie there trying to get back to sleep, get out of bed and go downstairs and sit in a chair and try and relax until you feel sleepy again. Get back into bed but get out of bed again if you cant sleep.
You should also try get to bed and out of bed at the same time most days at a time which allows you get the amount of sleep you need. This schedule is better for the body and your circadian rhythms are less likely to be disrupted than if you are sleeping on in the morning when it is bright or staying up half the night. An occasional party is good for the soul but most of us need 8-9 hours sleep a night to feel fully rested and restored. It's not macho to deprive your body of such a good restorative and recovery mechanism.