Poor sleep can be hugely detrimental to both your mental and physical health, and if you’re spending night after night tossing and turning, you may find yourself losing your spark in other areas of your life.
Side effects of lack of sleep include memory trouble, mood swings, increased blood pressure and reduced productivity – hardly the recipe for a happy day and healthy body! Adults generally need around 7 hours of sleep each night, but many of us fall short of this for a range of reasons.
If you’re struggling to doze off at night, take a look at these 9 tips for a better sleep.
How do I wind down before bed?
Your body’s circadian rhythm runs on a cycle, and those who constantly disrupt this cycle, by going to bed and waking up at irregular times, generally have worse sleep. Try to get into the habit of going to sleep and waking up at around the same time each day – yes, even at the weekend!
Your wind-down routine in the evening is of equal importance. What you’re doing in the evening could be keeping you awake, even something as simple as watching the evening news or an adrenaline-filled show on television.
Try to create a relaxing night routine that allows you to switch off in the few hours before bed. You might take a bath, read a book or listen to calming music. Jot down your to-do list for the next day so you’re not worried about what you have on. These healthy sleep habits can be tricky to stick to at first, but they can really help when it comes to clearing your mind and lowering your stress levels.
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Does Yoga Nidra really work?
Yoga Nidra is a meditation and yoga practice for sleep with the aim of inducing total body and mind relaxation. It’s been shown to ease insomnia, decrease anxiety and alleviate stress; the perfect way to wind down in the evening.
During a yoga nidra practice, you will transition into a state of total relaxation. It’s usually practised lying down in bed, so you’re able to drift off to sleep as soon as you feel ready. Usually in the form of guided breathing exercises and body scans, yoga nidra will bring you into the present moment and encourage you to soften any tension in your body.
Declutter your Space
Eliminating clutter and adding a few homely touches to your space can help alleviate insomnia. While it’s not a cure-all, having a tidy up certainly helps. A cluttered space is constantly registered as a ‘to-do’ by our brain, leading to stress that can stop us sleeping.
Once you’ve decluttered, turn your bedroom into a sleep-friendly zone. Indoor plants, candles and soft lighting will give you a sense of peace and relaxation – and sometimes that’s all we need to help us fall asleep at the end of a long day.
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Can you meditate in bed?
Meditation to help you sleep is hardly a new phenomenon, but so many people neglect this powerful practice. Meditation is a fantastic tool for those with insomnia, while also helping you to be more productive, calmer and happier during the day.
Sleep meditations will quieten the mind and body, giving you an overall sense of calm. You should sleep sounder and for longer, waking refreshed and ready for a new day. Sleep meditations can be in the form of breathing exercises and body scans, or even focusing on a particular quality you’d like to develop.
Eat and Drink Right
We all know not to consume caffeine too late in the day, but few of us are aware just how much what we eat can impact our sleep. Most health experts recommend staying away from heavy foods late at night, as digesting a meal can disrupt our sleep. However, being hungry can also prevent us sleeping, so opt for a small snack just before bed if needed.
While it’s important to stay hydrated, limit fluids after 8pm, and although a glass of wine may help you fall asleep faster, it’s unlikely you’ll sleep as well.
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What are sleep stories?
A bedtime story read aloud to you as a child was the ultimate luxury, and enjoying a sleep story for adults is a great way to help you doze off at night. Enjoy a soothing story read aloud, often filled with tranquil imagery to capture your imagination and help you switch off from the stresses of the day. A sleep story will help you gradually clear your mind and settle down.
Don’t Watch the Clock
If you struggle with poor sleep night after night, it’s very easy to get into the habit of clock-watching. Whether you have an alarm clock next to your bed or you take a sneak peak at your phone every now and again, constantly being aware of the time is a huge detriment to a good night’s sleep. Knowing that you’ve only got 3 hours left until the alarm goes off will make you stressed, and then sleep is even less likely to happen.
Studies have suggested that those who watch the clock at night take longer to fall asleep than those who have no idea of the time. If you know you’re a clock-watcher, try moving your smartphone or alarm clock to the other side of the room and you should find it makes a difference.
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Lower Stress Levels During the Day
Trying to keep your stress levels lower during the day can help you doze off at night. While guided meditations to help you sleep are perfect for late at night, many people find short, unguided breathing exercises during the day and in the evening can make it easier to fall asleep when the time comes. Make a gentle breathing exercise part of your relaxing night time routine, and you should find your quality of sleep improves.
One of the most effective breathing exercises for sleep is the 4-7-8 technique. Inhale for 4 counts, hold your breath for 7 counts and exhale for 8 counts. Try this a few times in the evening, or during the day when you feel your stress levels rise. This can even be practiced before an important meeting or interview to ease nerves and bring you back to the present moment.
Struggling to sleep when your mind is in overdrive? MindEasy has an extensive range of free guided meditations, sleep stories and yoga Nidra practices. Enjoy a sense of peace and wellbeing as you drift off at night, leaving any stresses of the day behind you. Our free courses vary from 5 days to 22 days, so you can enjoy a calming practice night after night.