One of the most frustrating things that can happen to you is being unable to sleep well. Sleep is a vital function which keeps our minds and bodies functioning properly; without it, well… We all know how it feels when you haven’t had enough sleep. Lack of sleep can affect our working lives, our personal relationships and our wellbeing. So how can we turn the tide on our bad sleep patterns? Is there a solution to being a light sleeper, an anxious sleeper or simply a non-sleeper?
In this article you will find five top tips for achieving a better night’s sleep. Let’s get right to it.
Redefine your bedtime ritual
If you are a particularly busy person, you may rush through your bedtime ritual. Establishing a routine is, according to psychologists, one of the key ways to achieve better sleep. Having a fixed set of steps you take before you finally climb into bed at the end of the day will help let your brain know that it’s time to relax, switch off, and begin to fall asleep.
What does a healthy bedtime ritual look like? That’s entirely up to you. Here are a few suggested steps – but at the end of the day, your bedtime routine will be individual to you.
- Skincare. Apply your skincare carefully, gently and consciously. Make it a moment.
- Reading a book or listening to a podcast. Reading and listening can be a beneficial way to engage your brain without activating it with a screen.
- Journaling. This isn’t for everyone, but many sleepless individuals find that journaling before bed helps their brain go over the events of the day, allowing it to decompress and put those events to rest.
Pay attention to your bed
Another factor that contributes greatly to the quality of your sleep is your bed. If your bed is not serving its purpose – to support your body, in particular your spine, while it is in its rest state – then it’s time to rectify the situation.
First, let’s talk about mattresses. Everybody has preferences when it comes to the firmness of their mattress, but a medium-firm mattress is the healthiest and most common choice. The mattress should not sag or give way completely to your weight; if your mattress does this, it is forcing your muscles to compensate while you sleep, leading to aches and discomfort all round.
Secondly, the sheets. You should have a high quality mattress protector underneath your sheets that protects your mattress from sweat and spillages, while also protecting you from irritation. The type of mattress protector you choose – whether it is waterproof, padded, or even an additional support protector to top your mattress with – will help you sleep better. In addition to a protective layer, your sheets should be soft and neutral-smelling. Soft material like linen will be gentle on your skin and aid your breathing during the night.
Cluttered room, cluttered mind
Now it’s time to discuss your bedroom. What does it look like usually? Picture it. Is it cluttered, messy and scattered with debris of the day? If so, don’t feel bad – we all let our clutter get on top of us sometimes. Nevertheless, it is important to declutter your bedroom for a better night’s sleep. Why are the two connected, you might ask?
According to recent studies, a cluttered bedroom can contribute to anxiety and stressed-out sleep. This is because your subconscious brain, the one that remains active while your conscious brain is asleep, remains aware through the night that the space around it is disorganized. This contributes to an overall feeling of anxiety and sleeplessness, even if you might not realize it at first.
You could even incorporate decluttering into your bedtime ritual. Spending five minutes putting everything back where it is meant to go is a pleasant way to end your day and will help your brain wind down.
Try relaxation techniques
If you have already attempted the aforementioned techniques and still find that sleep is avoiding you, there are tried and true relaxation techniques that can aid your brain’s feeling of calm before bed. These could include:
- Meditation. On YouTube and other platforms you can find free guided meditations if you are new to the practice. Meditation is an ancient practise which instils calm and oneness with the earth; it is practised by many who suffer with mental health issues, stress, grief and anxiety. If you struggle to relax after a crazy day, meditation could be the answer.
- Yoga. Yoga is a sport, but it is all about aligning your mind, body and breath together. Engaging in a ten or fifteen minute yoga practise before bedtime allows you to center in on your breathing, connecting your mind and body with its rhythm.
- Listening to whale sounds. Even something as simple as lying in bed listening to whale noises can aid your sleep. Whale sounds are known to be relaxing because they are gentle, fascinating and calm.
Ditch your devices
Our devices are designed to keep us addicted and entertained. That’s the whole reason we find ourselves scrolling endlessly through Instagram and getting addicted to Candy Crush, despite our best intentions. Many people are in the habit of taking their phone or laptop to bed with them, getting in that final social media or Netflix fix before trying to go to sleep. However, this is detrimental to your sleep; your brain is activated and awakened by the stimuli on your phone, causing some people to experience difficulty sleeping.
Doctors recommend that you spend the last hour before you are going to sleep without a screen in front of you. Instead, you could read a book, listen to a podcast or audiobook, or write in a diary. These activities help your brain relax, rather than devices which boost them into activity.
In conclusion, your sleep matters. Struggling to sleep can affect everything in your life, so make sure you take these steps to better your sleep and achieve more rest.