A good night’s sleep is incredibly important for your mental health. It’s a really big part of your life, and something you want to do well, whilst feeling well! Personally, I probably sleep too much, but I’ve struggled with getting too little sleep as well, not falling asleep at night and waking up far too early. As with anything in life, it’s something which can always be improved upon – so let’s talk about how to do so!
Things to consider when you want to improve your sleep is the routines you keep around the time when you get into and out of bed, your sleeping environment, your techniques for falling asleep and which hours you devote to this part of your life. Read on for more on all this!
It’s incredibly difficult to do, but ideally you should avoid bright screens for two hours before going to sleep. Try to find a hobby which doesn’t use screens, and do that in the hour or so before going to bed. I like to read or knit in this time. Other good things include meditation, some relaxed and slow yoga, talking with family or friends, planning the next day or journaling about the day just gone. Try not to eat any big meals in this time, and stay clear of caffeine and nicotine.
A nice thing I like to do is to have a little home-spa before going to bed. Light some candles, listen to relaxing music or a nice audiobook, have a bath or a good, warm shower, do a body scrub, get a face mask, get some oils or lotions going, just make sure you relax and enjoy yourself. Then, head to the bedroom, sit with some low lighting and do something which stills your mind and relaxes your body – when it’s time to sleep you’ll be ready to drift away. Make sure you turn off the lights!
As important to your sleeping habits as getting to sleep, is getting up in the morning. Of course, there are days where you want to sleep in for a few extra hours, but as a rule you should try to get up around the same time every day. Whether that’s at 5 am or 11 am is up to you and what suits your lifestyle, but no matter which time you choose you should try to stay consistent with getting up then.
A trick for getting up at the right time is to leave your phone or alarm clock on the other side of the room, that way you have to get out of bed to turn it off. Next, you should have a comfortable place to sit down which isn’t on your bed. Get some blankets and pillows involved and make make your morning seat inviting to your sleepy self. Once you’re there, I think staying on your phone is the best thing for properly waking up. I scroll through Instagram and Facebook, letting the bright light wake me up. Next, I do some meditation and yoga before getting breakfast. Figure our what works for you and get a morning routine.
Crucial to a good night’s sleep, is a good feeling in yourself. Self-care is important in all aspects of your life, and sleep is a really big part of this. There are so many cosy and lovely things you can do to make your bedroom a haven of wellness. Get cracking with the interior design of your bedroom, plants and curtains, throws and cushions, scented candles and beautiful pictures, nothing is too much for your night time and morning environment. Most importantly: your sheets – you need to love your sheets! Invest in a material which makes you feel like you’re on cloud nine, change your sheets regularly and make the bed in the morning. It feels great. I also think it’s good to have a nice pyjama which you feel comfortable in, and some soft, lovely slippers for making it a bit easier to get your feet out of the warm bed in the mornings.
There are a million and one ways in which to fall asleep, but it can still be one of the most difficult things you do in a day. A trick my mum taught me when I was little goes like this: Take deep breaths, all the way to the bottom of your stomach. Then, focus on each part of your body, beginning with the toes and going up through your feet, legs, knees, thighs, hips, stomach, chest, arms, hands, fingers, neck, face, ears. Imagine that every time you breathe out, the body part you are focusing on sinks deeper into the mattress, let it sink deeper and deeper for three long breaths, then move on to the next part. Lie completely still and try not to move. For the most part, I’m out like a light before I’m done with my legs.
Research different techniques for falling asleep, try them out, figure out what works for you and right there you’ll have a great tool for living a healthier, sleepier life.
An adult person needs between six and eight hours of sleep every night. Personally I like to keep to eight, as I’m a naturally sleepy person. I tend to sleep from midnight or later till eight or nine (sometimes even ten…), but it all depends on your lifestyle, whether you need to be up and about early in the morning, whether or not you get tired and go to sleep at ten; whatever your circumstances the most important thing is, again, consistency, so find your hours and stick to them! Set up your routines around these hours, so that you have your first cue for getting to sleep an hour or so before actually going to bed.
I’ve used sleeping pills in the past, when I was in hospital and during the time right after hospital, when I was still getting used to being back in my flat. I think they can be a good tool when you’re trying to stabilise your sleeping routines, or when it’s difficult to stick to these routines – when you’re out travelling for example, or you’re going through a particularly hectic period of your life. Beware though, they can make you quite drowsy the next day and I wouldn’t recommend using them regularly. Like with most pills, it is probably best to discuss the use of them with your doctor.