Tricks to sleep well
ANYONE who has worked with me or heard me speak knows the emphasis I put on sleep.
Sleep is fundamental to your everyday wellbeing.
Besides the obvious effect on your functioning, there are severe health risks to sleep deprivation. For example, losing just a single night’s sleep may affect your liver’s ability to produce glucose and process insulin, increasing the risk of metabolic diseases such as hepatic steatosis (fatty liver) and type 2 diabetes. That’s just one example that highlights the importance of sleep.
An adult generally requires around seven to nine hours.
An important thing to note is that it’s not just about how much sleep you get, but the quality of that sleep. We crave restorative sleep.
As always, the challenge is how to get those good quality hours.
Here are three areas to focus on:
■ ENVIRONMENTAL: Your bedroom has to be cool (preferably around 18.33 degrees), dark and comfortable.
Try not to overwhelm your resting space with technology.
Put your mobile phone on flight mode overnight if you need it on and place items around the bedroom that generate positive feelings, such as photos or flowers.
■ PROCEDURAL: Try to go to bed and sleep around the same time every night.
The optimal time to retire for the day is about 10.30pm and to rise about 6am.
Your brain loves the certainty of that routine, so stick to it.
Limit any daytime naps to
20 minutes maximum. This avoids interfering with the rapid eye movement (REM) part of your sleep cycle.
Avoid smoking, alcohol or any caffeinated beverages prior to sleep.
Ensure you have a good quality pillow and blankets that aren’t too heavy.
Avoid rigorous exercise prior to bedtime. Opt for a relaxing
20-minute slow walk instead as this may help prepare for the sleep you need.
Develop a routine where the last 45 minutes prior to sleep are filled with activities that relax your brain instead of getting it excited.
Again, your brain loves the certainty.
■ MINDSET: You need to be relaxed when going to sleep.
Many people I work with sleep from exhaustion.
As soon as their head hits the pillow, they are asleep, only to wake up 90 to 120 minutes later.
We all have worries that hinder our ability to sleep so it’s important to try and manage our thoughts and relax our minds as we unwind for bed.
These worries are real so don’t try to ignore them – accept them and get into the habit of writing down your worries prior to going to sleep. Then, reflect on your world and focus on the things that you appreciate and are grateful for. These are the first two steps towards finding joy.
This may help your brain release relaxing stimulants as opposed to stress stimulants.
If you can’t sleep, don’t lie awake telling yourself to go to sleep. All this will do is agitate you more. Rather, get out of bed and do something gentle, like reading a book, to relax your brain.