We all know that feeling of running on empty without a good night’s sleep.
You wake up feeling exhausted and spend the day looking for any opportunity to take a nap. When I started going through the menopause every day felt like this to me. Living without a good night’s sleep is the worst kind of torture and to be honest I’m still working on getting a good eight hours a night! Honestly even just falling asleep seems like a miracle these days as sleep has never really come easily for me.
Getting a good seven to eight hours a night is extremely important for us. A good night’s sleep is crucial in maintaining a healthy body and a healthy mind. Without it, we never get a chance to refresh our brains to maintain healthy function. This is why it’s almost impossible to concentrate on anything when we haven’t had enough sleep. Depression and anxiety are also much more common in people with a poor sleep schedule.
However, I’m sure you all have already read so many articles about the importance of sleep. One thing I have noticed in all of these articles is how it’s so much easier said than done. If we could all have a good eight hours in bed, we would already be curled up in there fast a asleep instead of staying up reading this!
Here’s some of my tips on getting a better night’s rest.
Make your room a sanctuary for sleep
For many of us, especially those of us living in big cities, space is considered a luxury! We can then get into the bad habit of treating out bedroom like an office, kitchen or living room of all of the above. In order to get a better night’s sleep, we have to start associating sleep with your bedroom only. The sooner we start associating our bedrooms with sleep & relaxation time instead of a workplace, our bodies will get used to this positive pattern. I would also advise against eating in the bedroom no matter how tempting this can be sometimes. Eating in bed just creates unnecessary mess & work which defeats the issue of our bedrooms being a haven of relaxation. When you enter your bedroom, you want to feel relaxed and calm. So, try to save the bedroom for sleep (and sex).
I actually only recently found out, that for our brains to start producing melatonin (the chemical that helps us sleep) we need complete darkness. This is why blackout curtains are essential, especially in the summer. I would even look into getting blackout curtains which can also block out noise from outside. Just because London doesn’t sleep, doesn’t mean you can’t.
If blackout curtains aren’t an option for you, there’s always eye masks which you can try. I’ve even seem some interesting ones which you can pop in the fridge so they’ll be cool for when you put them on. These would be great to help with dark circles and puffiness.
Cut down on Sugar and Alcohol
We all already know (hopefully) that caffeine any time after five in the afternoon is a bad idea. However, what a lot of you might forget about is sugar. I know it’s so hard saying no to dessert, or even just a bite or two of chocolate before bedtime. But believe me when I say all this will do is ensure you’re going to be up at one in the morning with a sugar rush. The same goes for alcohol.
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While we might think wine might be a nice way to wind down at night, but this is actually one of the worst things that you can do before going to bed. While alcohol can make us feel drowsy and fall asleep quickly, you may find yourself waking up in the middle of the night. This Is because, as the alcohol filters out of our bloodstream our quality of sleep becomes lighter and more sensitive. So if you really want to drink, I’d encourage you to have it an hour or two before bedtime and and remember to drink with plenty of water in between.
Spend some time unwinding before bed
Have you ever found yourself struggling to get your mind to shut off at night? This might be because you go to bed still stressed from the events of the day. I really can’t blame you though, I find shutting off my mind the hardest thing to do at night. Most recently, I’ve been trying to combat this by banning electronic devices from my bedroom. Especially at night! I’ve even had to buy an alarm clock so I can stop relying on my phone for everything and finally stop keeping it by my bedside table. (I’ll be covering the harmful effects of blue light from mobile phones very soon.) It’s important to give your brain time to unwind before trying to go to sleep. I know that we all have very busy lives, but I would really recommend spending at least half an hour before sleeping to have some alone time and relax (without your phone!). You could spend this time doing some yoga or practicing some mindfulness techniques. You could even spend this time setting up your bedroom with some nice candles and spraying your pillows with some lavender to help you feel peaceful and get your senses in the zone. You may be surprised at just how half an hour of this type of preparation can help you to relax and subsequently make it easier for you to drift off into a lovely peaceful sleep.
Establish a good routine (and stick to it)
Most importantly establishing a good night time routine is the most effective way to get a good night’s sleep. I know a lot of you probably stay up until late (then hate yourself when you have to get up in the morning.) Our bodies crave structure and a good routine. By having a regular bedtime and a specific time to wake up in the morning we actually synchronize our internal body clocks. You may even find you don’t even need your alarm in the mornings anymore as your natural body clock may kick in if you stick to this routine.
Sleeplessness can be terrible and even following all of these tips still won’t guarantee the odd night where sleep evades us. Please don’t be disheartened by it, try the tips suggested and stick to it for a while. It takes time to undo bad habits and for the boddy to make positive adjustments. But if this is becming a regular problem please go and see your GP for some professional help and advice.
Author: Erica Fraser