Do you get enough quality sleep each night? Do you find yourself horizontal on the sofa trying to convince yourself it’s time to go to bed? Or are you working late into the night, possibly even taking your laptop to bed with you? Maybe you’ve been wondering recently how to get a better night’s sleep?
The physiological impact sleep deprivation has on our bodies can greatly affect our health and wellbeing, not to mention our performance at work and productivity, making it vital we prioritise good quality sleep in our daily routines.
It has been said that cutting one hour off your sleep each night for a week will result in your body reacting as though it has pulled an all-nighter. The effects over time are weakening of the immune system as well as diminished cognitive function meaning we are less able to think, learn and remember. It also affects our alertness, decision making abilities, problem solving and reaction times.
One of the issues I work on with my clients is sleep disturbance and I also used to swing between insomnia and chronic fatigue, so I know first-hand what’s it’s like to really struggle with quality of sleep. I became so desperate that I’d try any suggestion or old wives tale that I heard about to get a better night’s sleep.
At one stage many, many years ago, a GP even prescribed me sleeping pills to try to get a better night’s sleep, but they just offered me a temporary state of being unconscious without the refreshing feeling of being recharged after a good night’s sleep.
I had to find another solution to get a better night’s sleep and so I’d like to share with you my top tips on what I have found to work for me personally. As with many things, we are all individual and unique, however you might find a few of these tips work for you too.
There is very seldom just one magic thing that fixes everything, and so what I have found is that a combination of things is what has helped me get a better night’s sleep. None of the following tips seem to work on their own, however put together, and I’m sound asleep, waking refreshed in the morning.
Electronic devices off
Switch your mobile phone to flight mode and silent at least half an hour before bedtime, for me it’s an hour before. The reason is that the blue light emitted by your mobile phone screen stimulates your brain in a way to be awake and alert, disrupting melatonin production.
This is obviously a problem if you’re wanting to relax and enter a sleep state and so it takes much longer to reach the specific brainwaves for optimal sleep if you’ve been staring at your screen until late at night. The same goes for tv and other electronic devices such as laptops and tablets. If you’re going to read, it needs to be a proper book or one of the old style kindles with no backlight.
A dark bedroom
A dark bedroom is best and so you want to turn everything off that emits any sort of light, getting the room as dark as possible. Even the very small red light of your tv in standby mode can affect your brain, telling it to be alert. Proper lined curtains and blackout blinds really are worth it when it comes to getting a better night’s sleep!
It’s only with the invention of the lightbulb that we have been staying up later at night as our ancestors would have been in bed not long after the sun went down. These new LED light bulbs are great, however most of them are blue light that will disrupt melatonin production, and they are incredibly bright, therefore telling our brains to be active and alert.
You can get special light bulbs that are termed “red light”, or I suggest using dimmers or side lamps to light your home in the evenings. You can also get motion sensor floor lights to light your way to the bathroom if you need to get up in the middle of the night, so you don’t feel interrogated by bright lights as you stumble through.
Did you know that the clothes we wear send messages to our brains? If you go to bed wearing anything you have done exercise in, you’re telling your brain to get the body ready for a workout. You then curl up in your bed but your brain is saying “Hey, I thought we were going to do exercise?” and so takes much longer to reach a proper sleep state.
The bedroom is not an office
Leave all work and office related stuff out of the bedroom so your brain can associate your bed with rest. So many of us sit up in bed with our laptops catching up on work, or even sending that quick email from our mobile phones before lights out. Perhaps even reading through any sort of printed work material like reports, manuals and training guides.
This can lead the brain to associating the bed and bedroom with work, so when you put your head on your pillow, your brain is fired up ready to be active and alert for cognitive function. You’re definitely going to be counting sheep!
Lavender essential oil
Every night I rub a little bit of lavender essential oil on my temples and jaw as it has relaxing and mild sedative properties. It’s suggested to dilute it with a carrier oil, avoiding the eyes, and a little goes a long way with just one or two drops needed due to it being so concentrated.
It’s very important to get a good quality brand as there are many synthetic products out there that have zero of the plant’s benefits, they just smell nice. I use the brand doTERRA but I’ve heard that Young Living and Tisserand are also pretty good. You can even put a drop on your pillow or use it in a cold water diffuser while you sleep.
A few other tips to mention briefly on getting a better night’s sleep are to stop drinking caffeine from the early afternoon onwards, keep your room temperature cool as heat can disrupt your sleep, and try to go to bed at the same time each night to establish a routine.
Guided meditations can be hugely beneficial in relaxing the body and mind, preparing you for a peaceful sleep and so look out for the Sleep Meditation I’ve specially recorded for you below.
We hope you found these insights useful. For more information about how our sleep health workshops can support your employees, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. Wishing you sweet dreams tonight!
Sleep Meditation on the Insight Timer App:
About Liz Findlay
Liz Findlay is a corporate wellness coach at Self Love Today specialising in holistic wellness, sleep health, meditation and stress relief. She also practices at Liz Findlay Animal Healing (& People Too).