Sleep can have such a massive impact on our happiness. I have had great phases and terrible ones over my sleeping lifetime. If I am lucky I will get a few nights of sleeping straight through in a row, if I’m unlucky nights of struggling to get off and hours awake in the middle of the night or the early morning.
But is it luck or can you improve your sleep game. As I have dedicated plenty of time to perfecting my sleep skills I thought I would share my pro tips with you.
Preparing for sleep.
4 – No caffeine and sugar after 4pm.
There are lots of different cut off times for people . For me I have found 4pm is the magic number. After 4pm if I drink caffeine of any kind or eat sugar I am pretty much guaranteed to lay awake in bed for a good hour before I can get off to sleep. What time is your cut off?
3 – No News three hours before bed.
I try to limit news throughout the day or I can easily get dragged into overthinking and Catastrophising. If I do read it close to bed time it is difficult to switch off. My brain decides those quiet moments before sleep are prime real estate to fill with analysing and considering the impact of world events on my little life. The reality is they have little direct impact and I can only really impact them if I decided to dedicate focus to them. Best leave news for early in the day.
2 – No social media two hours before bed.
This is one a struggle to commit to as I often find myself slipping into the habit of just having a little look on my window to the world. I love to check in on friends and family and see what is going one with people. There is a risk though I am triggered and find myself worrying about friends or family or feeling like I have failed at something. I am trying my best to avoid social media before bed.
1 – No screen time one hour before bed.
As with the social media this one of tricky. Those precious few hours after the kids have gone to bed feel like the only time I have to enjoy a bit of some on TV. I am trying more consistently to read or meditate or just chat with the hubby before sleep. It does make a difference when I manage it.
Getting to sleep
A couple of tips I have found beyond counting sheep.
A bath an hour before bed. – having a warm bath can help you get off. Interestingly it is the cooling down after a bath that actually triggers sleep hormones. So time getting out of the bath about an hour before you plan to nod off.
Listing gratitudes – making a mental list of things you are grateful for. Really challenging yourself by posing questions to yourself such as Who am I grateful for? What am I grateful for? What skills do I have that I am grateful for? What moments have I overcome that I am grateful for? Then repeat.
Decorating house – this is a tricky thing to explain but it is a great one for getting off. I imagine each room in my house one at a time building a 3D model of it in my mind. Then I rearrange furniture, change colours on the walls, buy new items mentally and place them in the room. I rarely get past the ground floor before falling asleep.
Sometimes I imagine my dream home but that is less effective at getting me off to sleep. Great fun though to consider the details of every room built from scratch with not constraints.
This works pillow spray – there are other sprays available and it isn’t for everyone but I have found this pillow spray helps create a deep restful nights sleep. https://www.thisworks.com
Weighted blanket – my latest purchase and definitely noticed a difference. Weighted blankets have been shown to help in many circumstances. It is t a magic pill but I do think the sense of security it creates is helping me sleep longer and deeper.
If All Else Fails.
Meditation – doing some meditation even in the middle of the night can help relax and let you drift back off. You know I am a massive fan of Headspace. They even have specific meditations if you wake in the middle of the night.
Podcasts or Star Trek – I avoid watching something but if I really can’t settle listening to a podcast or even putting on an episode of something familiar like Star Trek and just listening to it can help me relax and drift off.
Get up – If you really can’t get back off get up. Don’t create a negative behaviour of laying in bed stressing about sleeping. You risk training your body to think that’s what sleep is about.
As a final passing note go easy on yourself. Although lots of assume sleep is a natural thing in today’s day and age it can be far from it. You will find something that works for you if you keep trying different things.