Sleep is an important factor in our physical and emotional wellbeing. It is thought that on average, we need 8 hours of sleep a night.
Difficulties with sleep are not uncommon, in fact they are very common, which is why I thought I’d share some tips to try and help any of you that may be finding it difficult.
If you can’t stop worrying…
It is not abnormal for us to worry, worrying serves a purpose. You may have an interview tomorrow, or you might be starting a new job. You may have forgotten to do something in the day which you just can’t stop thinking about (this happens to me OFTEN!)
When I feel like this, I think about whether the thing i’m worrying about is something I can control. If not, I might write it down or do something I enjoy for a little while to distract myself (e.g. read or listen to calm music). If it is something you can have control over e.g. You need to revise for an exam that’s next week, then make a plan, mentally or write it down, then do something you enjoy. If it is something you can do then and there without too much disruption, then go and do it e.g. I often forget turn the hot water off, and start to think about it obsessively, and to stop that I get up and turn it off.
The above can be captured by the image below, otherwise referred to as ‘the worry tree’.
Try to avoid napping…
If I am having trouble sleeping at night, I avoid napping all together. But I personally LOVE a good nap, so I avoid napping in the later afternoon, and try to keep my naps short (less than an hour).
Don’t exercise too late
Exercising raises your energy and temperature which is counter productive for sleep. Exercise is of course helpful, but at the right time
Have a good daily intake of fluid
An easy change to make associated with better sleep. Guidance around fluid intake can be found here. Caffeine is linked to sleep disruption, and it can be active in our body for over 8 hours, so try and avoid caffeinated drinks if you are having trouble sleeping.
No big meals close to bed time
Big meals should be avoided close to bed time, as a rule, I try to have dinner by 8pm. Although, it’s important not to have an empty stomach, so you could have a healthy, light snack.
Go to bed at the same time everyday, and wake up at the same time. Our bodies can adapt and tune into routines so it is worth a go.
If you’ve been trying to sleep for a while and you just can’t…
Get up and go into a different room for a while and do a low stimulation level activity (definitely do not watch TV!), then try again.
A healthy diet has positive affects in all areas of our lives, and that includes sleep. I notice if I’ve had a bad day with food, as I find it more difficult to sleep.
There are some great apps out there you can use, and easy to follow breathing exercises that can help. This website has some great ideas around it and BayArt also have posts around mindfulness and meditation.
This is not an exhaustive list and it would be great if you are happy to share your sleeping tips in the comments.
Thank your for reading
NB: This is a combination of my own experience and what’s helped me in the past. This post has also been influenced by my training, however this is not professional advice. I would urge you to seek professional advice if you were experiencing significant distress.