“True silence is the rest of the mind, and is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment” – William Penn
We all need sleep – the precious time our bodies use to repair and rejuvenate so that we can awake feeling refreshed and rested.
Although we know how important sleep is for our bodies to be able to function effectively – the varying demands of our lives can often mean don’t get enough – perhaps because of hectic schedules or maybe because we feel too ‘stressed to sleep.’
A bad night’s sleep can leave you feeling physically, mentally and emotionally tired. This can result in muscular tension, lack of concentration and irritability. Over longer periods of time inadequate sleep can also affect libido, overall stress levels and ultimately your mental health.
A recent BBC news article has reported that a group of UK researchers have discovered that a run of poor sleep “can have a potentially profound effect on the internal workings of the human body.” Heart disease, diabetes, obesity and poor brain function have all been linked to substandard sleep. Such findings highlight how important getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep time is.
If you are having trouble getting to sleep or find that you are waking up in the middle of the night – try the following simple techniques – they may help to make a positive difference to your sleep patterns:
- Try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day to encourage a healthy routine (avoiding napping during the day to aid this)
- Establish a regular bedtime routine (maybe inclusive of relaxation techniques such as meditation /taking a relaxing bath/listening to soothing music) and start winding down for bedtime at least an hour before retiring
- Avoid watching TV or using the computer before you go to sleep (as these can make you feel more alert). You may find using a meditation app or sleep app on your phone useful in helping you to drift off – however if you have a habit of checking emails or texting before you go to bed – leave your phone in another room!
- Try to eat your evening meal at least one hour before you go to bed
- Be caffeine, nicotine and alcohol free at least 4 hours before going to bed
- Have a hot drink such as a chamomile tea or specific nightime tea (Pukka do a lovely range) about an hour before bed to help you relax
- Use a relaxing essential oil (such as lavender) in an oil burner to create a calming atmosphere in your bedroom or sprinkle a few drops on your pillow
- Keep a notepad and pen by your bed so that before you go to sleep you can write down any repetitive thoughts or concerns (you can also do this if you wake in the middle of the night). This can be a good way of helping to clear anxious thoughts and to empty the mind.
- If you wake in the middle of the night and you can’t get back to sleep – get up and do something away from your bed until you feel sleepy enough to return to bed. This also applies if you don’t fall asleep in the first 20 minutes of retiring.
- Keep the bedroom a peaceful and comfortable place to rest in
I would also recommend trying a course of complementary therapies such as Reflexology or Aromatherapy (dependent on a full consultation) to help with disturbed sleep patterns as these therapies encourage all functions of the body to rebalance naturally.
If you are finding that you regularly experience sleep problems you should visit your GP.
I hope you find these tips helpful – everyone has the right to a good night’s sleep – sweet dreams!