How's your sleep? 5 tips to make each night count.

Lately I’ve had a lot of people talk to me about their sleeping habits or patterns. Generally that they aren’t getting enough or are finding it very hard to wake up in the morning. I’m also finding myself in a similar space. For most of this year I had a great rhythm going with my miracle morning; early rising and setting a positive tone for my day. But now, I’ve become a victim to the cold, dark, Winter mornings and I seem to be able to sleep for days.

Nevertheless, writing this blog post is my own wake up call. Hopefully I can inspire myself to get back on track with a healthy sleeping habit, which will of course in turn bring me back my miracle mornings.

So, what do we know about sleep?

There are four different stages of sleep. The most interesting ones (at least for me) are REM (rapid eye movement) and deep sleep.

Deep sleep can be described as the one that you can’t be woken from. What happens here is that your body temperature drops, your heart rate slows down, and your brain takes the opportunity to create and store memories. It filters the day just gone and prepares us for the day to come.

REM sleep is where we spend our time dreaming. However, I also heard some info that your dreams only occur in the last 15 minutes of your REM sleep? I’m not sure how true that is, because sometimes I feel like my dreams could be made into a blockbuster saga, but nevertheless, this is where we dream.  REM stands for rapid eye movement and your eyes are physically moving from side to side. Creepy!

Nevertheless, I digress…here are some of my tips & thoughts on improving your sleep:

Rituals

Create a bed time ritual that you can commit to and actually commit. It might mean you have to stop those 01:00 scroll sessions or say no to eating out every night, but your body and mind will thank you for it.  Some things I like to do are to light candles, turn off lights, write in my gratitude journal, burn incense, make sure the house is tidied up ready for the next day, plan my tomorrow.

Upgrade your gear

How old is your mattress? Is your bed broken? How old are your sheets? These are our helpers to a good night’s sleep. I’m not saying that you have to run out and invest in high end stuff, only that you need to have a look at what you’ve got and make a plan to upgrade if it’s that time. A mattress shouldn’t last you longer than 10 years.

Also, take care of your bedding! You’re putting yourself all snug as a bug in a rug in there every night. Wash it weekly, and if you have allergies, make sure you’re buying the right stuff to cater for it. I recently bought some organic bamboo sheets and I love them (even though I bought the wrong size…)!

Make the rules

Decide when you want to put your phone away. Maybe it’s an hour before your bed time? Maybe two? The blue light from our phones can interfere with our circadian rhythms. The same goes for street lights. Set a time, put the phone on aeroplane mode, charge it outside your bedroom, and shut the blinds.

Decide how you want to use your bedroom. The ideal is to create it to be a sleeping sanctuary. If you have the luxury, then keep it only as that. For most of us, we don’t have the space for only that, so instead try to avoid doing things in your bed like watching TV, eating or chatting on the phone.

Keep your bedroom FRESH! Open the window every morning, no matter how cold it is outside, and every night before you sleep. We all need a little more fresh air in our lives., unless of course you are living out there in nature.

Time is just a number

There is a lot of information out there on how much sleep adults should have. Is it 7? 9? Is it possible for us to catch up on sleep? If I only had 6 hours today does that mean I need to have 10 tomorrow? I don’t have a scientific answer for this, but I will just say listen to your body. Sleep when you’re tired. Reduce the stimulation before bed so you can really check in with yourself. The hours of sleep we need can vary on the activity that we did that day! The volume of water that we drank or the food we ate. There are so many variables, so do what’s right for you. Sometimes I work best on 6 hours, sometimes on 8. It doesn’t matter at the end of the day. So don’t stress about the number.

Another thing to consider here is that you might be sleeping for 8 hours, but if it’s all in stage 1 sleep, then it’s not going to benefit us. We need to spend enough time in each stage to reap the benefits, and as we can’t control that (because we’re sleeping) we can only try to create an environment that allows us to do our best.

Other helpers

Still not enough? Then try out something like lavender spray or essential oils in a diffuser. You can easily make your own lavender spray using essential oils. Spray some on your pillow before you sleep, or roll it into your pulse points to create a calming atmosphere.

Alternatively, there are some specific candles that are meant to help with sleep. When I was doing night shifts in a previous job, I used to use the this works candle. You can find it on their website here https://www.thisworks.com/ , plus a whole bunch of other sleeping aids.

Try meditating with yoga nidra! I personally love the app called Insight Timer, and even on the free version you have access to a lot of great meditations. Yoga nidra is essentially a guided meditation while you’re lying down feeling comfy and cosy. All you have to do is listen and chill! What more could you want before bed?

If you’re planning to give any of these a try, please share in the comments below! Or if you have any other tips to share, share away.

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