Hands up if any of these scenarios sounds familiar:
- You struggle to get to sleep
- You are sleeping 8-10 hours each night but waking up in the morning is a challenge. You feel exhausted and rarely wake feeling refreshed.
- You wake up in the night and often lie there for what feels like forever desperately trying to drop off again.
- The closer to bedtime you get, it feels like your mind has turned itself up loud and won’t let you quieten thoughts, memories or anxieties down.
The truth is, around 50% of you reading this will have put your hand up to at least one or more of the above.
Sleep for health and wellbeing
Sleep is vital for our physical and emotional health and wellbeing. Without good sleep, our mood and our physical health can suffer; Relationships with ourselves, our work and our loved ones can take a nose dive too!
- On average, adults need between 7 – 8.5 hours’ sleep every night. However, we are all different, some of us will need just 4 hours sleep, whilst others need 10.
- Most people will occasionally struggle to get to sleep and to get back to sleep if they wake in the night.
- Events such as bereavement or loss, change or high levels of stress can make it more difficult to sleep. Likewise, feeling anxious or depressed can contribute to poor sleep too.
- ‘Good sleepers’ will take around 30 minutes to fall asleep and will usually wake up briefly once or twice a night.
We can get hung up on the number of hours we sleep but it’s quality sleep rather than quantity that’s essential.
If you are struggling with your sleep, here are 5 strategies to ensure that you are READY for a great night’s sleep.
R is for Routine
Putting a bedtime routine in place can really help our mind to recognise that sleep is on the way. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated but relaxation time in for the hour before bed is key because it allows our bodies to recognise these activities as a reminder that it’s time to sleep. Try not to watch TV that will leave you feeling stressed or energised. Stay away from your phone, laptop or tablet; Avoid important conversations with loved ones just before bed too.
Your bedtime routine should include activities that calm and relax you, starting at the same time every night. This could be a warm drink (caffeine free), warm bath, listening to calm music or relaxation exercises.
Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day can really help to programme our mind and body for sleep.
E is for Environment
Make sure that your bedroom environment is comfortable. Ensure that the temperature isn’t too hot or too cold. Try to make your bedroom as dark as possible, too much daylight or artificial light can trick our bodies into thinking its time to get up.
Ensure that your bedroom is quiet, restful and free from clutter.
Don’t watch TV or other screens in bed. Your bed should only be used for sleep and sex.
A is for Activities
So, we’ve talked about your bedtime routine already but the activity that you do during the day is as important when it comes to getting a quality nights sleep.
Exercise is great, not just for our physical health but for our emotional health too. Try to exercise in the morning if you can but if this isn’t possible, exercising later in the day is fine but steer clear of the couple of hours before you head to bed.
Try to eat and drink healthily throughout the day. Wherever possible, opt for healthy, balanced meals and snacks with plenty of water. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine wherever possible, especially in the evening.
If you aren’t sleeping at night and you are feeling exhausted, it’s really easy to give into the urge to nap but this can impact on our ability to sleep at night, so it’s best to avoid.
D is for Dump the Worry
By dumping I don’t mean ignore it, far from it. But, if you find that you mind becomes over active at bedtime or in the middle of the night, try different ways that allow you to put your worries down.
For example, if you have a million and one things to do and lie awake frightened that you will forget something important, write a to do list; Journalling about what you are feeling can be helpful if you are feeling low or anxious.
If you wake in the night with racing thoughts, keep a pen and paper by your bedside so that you can write things down. Maybe writing isn’t you thing, you could try drawing or speaking it out loud.
Any act that involves you moving lists or worries out of you mind, can help you put them down to be able to get a good night’s sleep and offer you strength to focus on them in the morning if you need to.
If problems with sleep have been going on for a while, and are as a result of a specific change, stress or loss in your life, it can really help to find someone you can talk to, maybe a friend or family member. If friends or family are part of the problem, you are fed up of hearing unhelpful advice or you are worried about burdening them, seeing a counsellor maybe an option for you.
Talking can really help you to look at things in a different way, which can help turn reduce overwhelming thoughts that seem to increase in volume the closer to bedtime you get.
Y is for Your Sleep Pattern
We are all different. What works for one person, won’t necessarily work for all of us. Spend some time understanding what your sleep pattern really is. Figure out how much sleep you need, what activities make you feel relaxed before bed, and equally as important what makes you supercharged and has the opposite effect! Work out what your ideal times are for going to bed and waking up in the morning.
Once you have this clear in your own mind, communicate your needs with those around you to be sure that you are getting the sleep that you need.
Getting a good nights sleep is vital to our health and well-being. Events in our lives can impact on our sleep but how we sleep can also be as much about habits and routines we create for ourselves. In the same way that patterns take time to form, they take time to break too.
Try to be patient and kind with yourself if change doesn’t happen overnight. But, if you follow the tips above and stick with it you are more likely to be READY for a good night’s slee
I hope this blog helps you to get a better night’s sleep. If you are wrestling with loss, change or bereavement and it’s affecting your sleep, you are not alone. I work with people just like you. Get in touch with me on 07305 621885 or email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading