Healthy eating is important. Exercise is important. Food plans and regimes are important. But when it comes to balanced living, too many of us forget an essential component: a good night’s sleep! Do you find it tricky share its top tips to drift easily off to the land of nod, for a long, restful visit? These tips might well help …
- Go to bed earlier. Sounds simple, doesn’t it! It isn’t, however. And even if you go to bed early, many of us just lie there tossing and turning until we get to our “normal” bedtime. The trick is to take it slowly, patiently. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier than normal every three days. Follow this routine religiously, and in less than two weeks you’ll be enjoying an extra hour’s sleep! Doing this will give your sleep cycle time to adapt, and will avoid the side-effects (lying in bed awake) of a sudden change in sleep habits.
- TURN OFF THE SCREENS. We can’t stress this enough. Ideally, all screens – phones, computers, tv – should be off two hours before you turn in. For many, this isn’t realistic, but try to give yourselves at least half an hour’s break before you go to sleep. One easy rule to follow is to simply leave your phone in another room at night. (Buy an old-fashioned alarm clock if you need to!)
- Avoid alcohol, sugar and caffeine at least two hours before you go to bed. If you are particularly sensitive to any of these stimulants, give them up entirely for a week or so, and track the improvement in your sleep.
- Get outside during the day as much as possible – sunlight regulates your body’s production of melatonin which helps to regulate your sleep/wake cycle.
- When it’s time to sleep, make your room as dark as possible. If this isn’t an option, invest in the most comfortable eye-mask you can. Blocking out light really does help improve sleep.
- If you find yourself lying in bed waiting for sleep to descend, here’s a technique which really does work! It’s called the 4-7-8 technique, and requires two things – breathing, and counting. Breath in through your nose while you slowly count to 4; hold the breath in for a slow count of 7; then exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. Do four cycles in all.
- Finally – buy yourself to the best pillow you can afford. Ditto bed-sheets. Make going to bed early a treat!