Sleep is so important for us and impacts our health dramatically! In our fast-paced modern lives many people have trouble either falling asleep, staying asleep or both. Here are 7 simple steps to a better nights sleep, all tried and tested by Dr Kate.
1. Avoid caffeine
2. Create a routine
3. Don’t shower straight before bed
4. Avoid bright screens & lights when it’s dark
5. Bed is for sleep (and cuddles) only!
6. Use a good pillow
7. Practice Guided Meditation
1. Avoid caffeine : It may be tempting when you're tired from a bad night’s sleep to grab a coffee but you should try to cut out or at least decreases your caffeine intake, particularly after lunch. Caffeine is a stimulant and we definitely don’t want this if we have trouble sleeping. Try drinking herbal teas in the afternoon and evening such as chamomile or a sleep tonic tea which can help to calm and relax you. These are my favourite night time teas, from Pukka and Higher Living.
2. Create a routine : Just because you’re not a kid doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from a routine. Routine can help your body to know when it’s time to wind down and go to sleep based on the activities you do before bed. Remember it takes approximately 28 days to create a new habit so you may need to stick at it for a while to see results. e.g. shower, dinner, get stuff ready for the next day, have a cup of herbal tea, read for 30 minutes, brush your teeth, meditate in bed and then sleep.
3. Don’t shower straight before bed : Our body temperature naturally drops as we get closer to sleep time. If we have hot showers before bed, especially in Winter this can stop the natural changes in body temperature to get us relaxed for sleep. Try to shower as soon as you get home from work or earlier in the evening before dinner.
4. Avoid bright screens & Lights after dark : Lights can really disrupt our bodies natural ability to detect day and night. If it's dark outside naturally our body would think its time for bed, however most of us have all the lights on at night time, use TV’s, iPads, phones etc. These all have bright screens that stimulate and wind up our brain instead of calming it. If it’s dark outside try dimming your lights inside, you can now switch your phone to warmer light and get apps for the iPad and computers. You can even buy red lens glasses which help block out the bright blue light that stimulates our brain. This article tells you how to switch your phone to night shift or to use f.lux on your computer.
5. Bed is for sleep (and cuddles) only : Don’t watch TV, use your phone or do any other activities non-sleep-related in bed. If you sit up watching TV in your bed all the time or playing video games in your bed your body doesn’t recognise that bed is for sleep but a place to stimulate your brain and concentrate on things.
6. Use a good pillow : A pillows should support the neck and the spine’s natural curves during sleep and should be comfortable! You don’t want a big pillow as its lifts your head too high and strains your neck muscles and a small pillow won't be very supportive either. I recommend an adjustable contour pillow that is either memory foam or latex-like this one or this one.
7. Practice Guided Meditation : Meditation is a fantastic way to clear your mind and relax. I recommend practicing just 10 minutes of guided meditation per day when you go to bed. If you are one of those people that can’t sleep because you have a million things going through your head then this is for you. This is my favourite meditation to do. My advice would be to try this every night for a week because it can take a little time to get used to it. Once you are in a routine then you will find you will be able to calm yourself in a shorter period of time and probably fall asleep before the 10 minutes is up.
I hope that these tips can help you to get a better nights sleep. I know that they work for me.
Dr Kate :)