By Laura Wilson at Wafflemama
It’s recommended that us adults get around eight hours of sleep per night and I for one know that I’m lucky to get half that quite often, but it’s usually down to me working or forcing myself to stay up for some extra quiet time when everyone’s asleep. Do you get a good night sleep? I see people constantly talking about struggling with sleep, posting on Facebook through the night and being kept awake by the battles of daily life. Having struggled with sleep issues myself, I know only too well how frustrating it is and how poorly it can make you feel (pretty quick) if you don’t find a way to relax and get the sleep you need. I thought I’d share five simple tips that although may seem obvious, can be a huge help for those struggling with sleep right now. Although I regularly stay up late, I can now get myself to sleep very easily when I need to and all it takes is a little focus on the matter in hand, concentrating on winding down and relaxing my body. Here’s five tips that may just help you…
In the hour or so before bed time, create a pre sleep environment with dim lighting and limited screen time especially closer to lights off time. If you need to use your phone or other devices before you sleep, reduce the brightness of your screen and add a blue light filter if possible to limit the effect as you unwind. Our bodies associate darkness with sleep, so if you gradually reduce the lighting coming at you, you will slowly be lulling yourself into the right frame of mind to drift off when you finally get to bed.
DOWNLOAD YOUR THOUGHTS
There’s nothing worse than laying in bed at night worrying about the next day or over thinking things that have happened previously. Keeping a notebook by your bed can be useful for any last minute thoughts, but you could also consider writing a list of the things that you’re grateful for that day as feeling that sense of gratitude has a truly positive effect on our mind. However it suits you to do it, get your thoughts out you head, even if it’s just a list of things you’re mulling over so you can free up head space and think about them in the morning. If you’re struggling to dump the busy mind though, you could try and distract it with soft calming music or sounds, as if you focus on the sounds your mind will have less energy for the negatives.
RELAX YOUR BODY
When you’re laying in bed it’s really important to focus on relaxing your tense body as well as your mind. A good way to do this is to consciously tense up and then relax each part of your body starting with your toes and working your way up. By the time you get to your head you should already be feeling more relaxed but if not, start the process again. You may want to ask your partner for a soothing massage or have a nice hot bath to truly release any tension left in your muscles. This is something we always think of to help babies and children get to sleep, but when it comes to ourselves we somehow expect to switch off straight away after a busy day and sometimes we just need a little helping hand.
Having a decent bed time routine is once again something we value as parents for getting our children into good sleep habits, but we neglect ourselves in this aspect by not giving our bodies the time and process to unwind and feel calm enough for sleep. A routine doesn’t have to be too rigid, but after a while it becomes habit and our body will become tuned to the fact that after your routine, for example, bath, book, sea sounds, lights off, you go to sleep. Once our routine becomes habit and we can sleep a little better, we will find it easier to keep up with our sleep. If we have a varied day with a messed up schedule, just do a shorter version of your routine to trick the mind into thinking it’s bed time even if it’s earlier or later than usual. Another thing that many of us are guilty of is napping and I’m sorry to say that if you want any kind of decent sleep in the night, then it’s time to ditch the naps. Napping is by far the best thing us adults can do when we get some free time, there’s nothing better is there? But if you’re a napper and struggling at night, they’ve go to go.
DEFINE YOUR SLEEP SPACE
Defining our sleep space is super important and by this I mean keeping you bed as a sleeping spot. Of course cuddles (etc) are for the bed too, but I’m talking about working on your laptop, watching films, writing letters, anything that requires a busier mind has no place in the bed. Dedicate your bed for what it’s made for and for anything else sit on the sofa, pull up a chair at the dining table or anywhere else that’s not for sleeping. We need to associate our beds with sleep and that way when we are there, we will remember what we should be doing in it. So if you’re guilty of switching that laptop on in bed or checking in on those emails under the duvet, pack it in!
The main thing with sleep training ourselves as adults is to go right back to basics. When we become parents we try all sorts with our kids, like blackout curtains, warm baths, earlier nights, stopping nap time, but when it comes to us grown ups we tend to forget those basic elements that help our bodies get in the right frame of mind. So if you’re struggling with sleep right now, get sleep training yourself and start from scratch. You never know, you might just sleep like a baby!