Tossing? Turning? Endlessly counting sheep? Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to fall asleep when you’re tired. But, instead of getting frustrated about how many hours you’ve got left until you have to wake up for work, try these tips to help you get to sleep. Then leave counting sheep to New Zealand farmers.
rethink that afternoon cuppa
That afternoon latte sure does hit the spot, but it could be the difference between sleeping soundly and hardly sleeping. Caffeine stays in your body much longer than you think. “Caffeine can be in your system for more than six hours, depending on your sensitivity, so resist that coffee urge after 2pm,“ explains sleep expert Christine Hansen.
Beware of other products that may contain caffeine, such as tea, chocolate, hot chocolate and fizzy drinks.
limit your vino intake
Although alcohol may make you feel sleepy, it can dehydrate you and worsen the quality of your sleep, so you wake up feeling sluggish and fuzzy-headed. You might find you also need to get up in the night to go to the loo (because alcohol is a diuretic) and it can make snoring worse. Which nobody wants. Avoid drinking alcohol too close to bedtime and always alternate drinks with hydrating water.
“Staying active not only makes you feel good, it has an impressive impact on sleep quality,” suggests Christine. Make sure you spend some of the day on the move, whether it’s walking to work or heading to the gym. Or try yoga. It helps connect the mind and body, which is crucial to diffusing stress, making it a great tool to improve sleep. But don’t leave it too late, if you can help it. Late-night exercise increases our body temperature and releases adrenaline.
create a comfortable sleep space
Most experts agree that your bedroom should be dark, comfortable and quiet. Keep walls neutral (if that’s your thing) and ditch the clutter. Of course we’re going to say this, but it’s worth investing in high-quality, comfortable sleep products. Trust us. A mattress (like this one here), breathable sheets (like these ones here) and a supportive pillow (ahem) can make all the difference. Try to ensure your body stays cool, supported in all the right places and comfortable all night long.
Research has shown that blue light from smart phones, tablets, and computer screens can put our circadian rhythm out of whack and impact sleep. Essentially, blue light through the optic nerve tells your brain that it is still daytime. And that can be annoying come bedtime, making it harder to fall asleep. Avoid using technology in the evening, or download a blue light filter, if you just can’t put that phone down.
Where possible, go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Our minds really are creatures of habit and your sleep will thank you for it. In fact, you might want to…
…find a pre-sleep routine, too
Light a candle. Put on the kettle. Catch up on Corrie. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Leave an hour before bed to relax and wind down. If you’ve only got half an hour, pick one of your favourite things to do. This time allows you to activate the ‘alpha’ brainwaves. The ones that make you feel all nice and sleepy.
clear your mind before sleep
When your head hits the pillow, do you get lost in a train of thought or start thinking the worst? “Whenever a negative thought creeps into your head, write down whatever is bothering you – it helps to diffuse negative thinking,” advises Christine.
Or, start a gratitude journal by writing down three positive experiences from your day. It might sound a bit fluffy, but it’s a good way to make you feel all fuzzy and less tense before bed.