10 tips – How to get better sleep
What changes, big and small, can you make in your everyday life to ensure that your sleep is improved, and with that, your health? From breathing exercises and the sounds of nature to monitoring your caffeine intake and putting down the wine, here are 10 tips to get a better night’s sleep:
1. Breathing exercises
Lina Lotto, SenSpa’s Spa Director has a passion for holistic health and wellbeing and swears by this relaxing and meditative breathing exercise called the ‘478 method’ to get you to sleep quickly:
“When you’re comfortable and relaxed, breathe in through your nose for 4 counts, hold the breath for 7 counts and then breathe out steadily through the mouth for 8. And repeat. It’s a wonderful way to distract the mind from the day and fall to sleep quickly but gently.”
2. Top up on natural light
We know lunchtime is the perfect opportunity to catch up with the latest Insta-stories but it’s time to put the phone away and swap that blue light for some natural sunlight. Our circadian rhythm is our natural internal clock so exposing yourself to as much natural light during the day and as little as possible at night keeps it healthy and will give you some natural energy, which will help you to sleep longer. So, try to head outside for some natural light as often as you can during the day to keep that circadian rhythm in check for a great night’s sleep.
3. Find your inner yogi
Take a little time out of your evening for some restorative yoga. It is a great way to release tension, quiet the mind, improve circulation and flexibility and promote deeper, more restful sleep. Yoga also boosts the digestive, lymphatic and circulatory systems which means more oxygen and nutrients circulating around the body to heal areas that need it most. There are plenty of YouTube videos and channels like ‘Yoga with Adriene’ that are simple and easy to follow and are suitable for beginners and experienced yogis too.
4. Take time to meditate
Perfectly paired with yoga, meditation doesn’t have to take hours but with regular practice it can become a way of soothing a busy mind, easing anxiety and could help you to feel more in control, especially if your to-do list is one of the things that invades your dreams.
You can meditate anywhere and anytime; one suggestion is when you are lying comfortably in bed, try counting backwards from 100, whenever your mind wanders, bring it back and start again. Or create a mantra that you can connect to, perhaps “I am calm and relaxed”, “Breathe in peace, exhale stress” or “I am grateful for…” and then repeat it to yourself until you fall asleep.
You could even combine your meditation with a soothing bath, that way you can escape the phone, television or the children and enjoy some well-deserved you-time – a great sleep guarantee.
5. Create a consistent sleep schedule
If the last time you had a bedtime was aged 6 it’s time to get back to it. There is a reason why we send children to bed at a certain time and as an adult it’s just as important to avoid erratic sleep because it can throw you off balance. Try to follow a regular sleep and wake routine (as much as possible) and see if you experience a great night’s sleep. Weekends are usually the downfall to routines so try to be as consistent as possible. If you’re getting an average of 8 hours every night consistently during the week, you should feel less inclined to throw the alarm clock out of the window on Saturday morning. The best way to set your new schedule in motion is by making small 15-minute adjustments until you reach your proposed bedtime and wake-up time.
6. Avoid caffeine after midday
One great sleep guarantee is avoiding caffeine after midday. We know it seems cruel to take away your afternoon coffee but give it a go. Try to make midday your caffeine cut-off and although it may take up to a week to get used to the change, see how it feels to go to sleep without that afternoon buzz still keeping you up.
Keep things interesting; stay hydrated and drink more water, buy decaf coffee supplies for home and work, a selection of decaf teas or even chicory ‘coffee’ which tastes similar but is made of roasted chicory and contains no caffeine (if you’re missing that coffee flavour).
7. Try natural supplements to aid sleep
For a great night’s sleep, you might try:
Chamomile tea – Chamomile is a herb that’s been used for many years to reduce inflammation and relax muscles and many find it helps them achieve a deep and great night’s sleep.
Magnesium – Magnesium is a natural mineral that is hugely important for brain function and heart health and is believed to have a calming effect on the nervous system. You can try supplements in powder, oil, tablet or capsule form but you’ll be delighted to learn that dark chocolate contains magnesium too.
Lavender – Buy in an oil form and dab on your pressure points, keep a small bag of dried lavender under your pillow or fresh lavender around the house for DIY aromatherapy and improved sleep quality.
Melatonin – Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced by the body. Increasing levels can be helpful to promote sleep and is especially effective for jet lag or readjusting the sleep-wake cycles. Melatonin can be found as liquid or in tablet form.
8. Create the perfect environment
The setting of a great night’s sleep should be cool, dark, quiet and disconnected! Before the smartphone was permanently by our side, we used to have books on the bedside table. So, it’s time to travel back in time and go old school with an alarm clock (if that’s your reason for keeping the phone next to you) and put all phones, tablets and electricals in another room.
Our circadian rhythm requires light and dark at the right times of day in order to stay healthy, so even small devices that may light up in the night can disturb the brain and promote wakefulness at the wrong times.
Top tip: The temperature of the room will also affect your sleep, with the recommended optimum being between 16 – 18 °C.
9. Let the sounds of nature soothe you…
Spotify, YouTube, Apple… Whichever is your player of choice, try some of the many ‘natural sounds’ playlists available. From crashing waves and rainforests to rainfall and songbirds, if quiet doesn’t work for you, you can find comfort in the natural and relaxing sounds of nature, to soothe and calm the mind for a great night’s sleep. Set up a speaker in the corner of the room or in the room next door and let the gentle sounds of nature help you drift off to sleep.
10. Avoid alcohol (especially during the week)
It can be easy to fall into the habit of pouring a glass of wine when you get home from work or when Friday night finally arrives, but it isn’t doing anything for your sleep. Yes, you fall asleep quickly enough, but the quality of your sleep is suffering. In fact, alcohol reduces your REM (rapid eye movement) sleep which is believed to be a restorative period of sleep, which when missed can lead to feelings of grogginess and a lack of focus. Alcohol also disrupts your circadian rhythm, possibly due to confusing your body’s normal hormone production so you may find you wake up in the middle of the night feeling awake. So, for improved, regular and restorative sleep, avoid alcohol!