Not sleeping well? Here are 7 steps to a better sleep.

Second part in Dalice Rose’s new series “How small changes make profound effects”

We live is such a fast paced world, where most of us bring work home with us as we have work cell phones which, unless we are extremely well disciplined, means the lines are blurred for when our work day starts and finishes.  Then on top of that we live life through electronic mediums, feeling the urge to pick up and check our smartphones on average 150 times a day!  If you want to know how many times you check your there is a app called Realizd that will let you know.

Most of us are balancing being parents/fulltime carers of children or other relatives, working full-time, being a wife/husband/partner, family and friends that we don’t even find time for us.  We fill in our days with so it’s no wonder we fall exhausted into bed head racing with thoughts about the events of the day or what tomorrow will bring.  Or if you are like me you start nodding off in the lounge so take yourself off to bed only to feel reinvigorated again after getting dressed and brushing your teeth!  So you lay there fighting to feel that natural sleepiness again.

Sleep deprivation is extremely common today and can weaken you immune system, accelerate developing illness, impair brain function and make us cranky!  A number of researches have looked into sleep and most end up with the same recommendation we need six to eight hour per night.  Lack of sleep can also cause heart disease, stomach ulcers, constipation, mood disorders like depression & can age us sooner!  Poor sleep can make you feel miserable which no doubt you know.

The great news is you can actually train yourself to get better sleep.  Yep you need training.  Just like with babies who need to learn night from day and how to self-settle adults can get their sleep routine their of whack requiring some realignment.  Our bodies respond to routines which are patterns within our day, when we feel wakeful and sleepy.  These are called circadian rhythms.  Being aware of your unique rhythm and responding to it will help you sleep more soundly.  And just like with a child who goes past their bedtime finding it challenging to relax and go to sleep (normally this is followed by an emotional meltdown) adults also find it difficult to fall asleep easily if the ignore their circadian rhythm.

The following seven techniques & tips are ones I use to help me get a better sleep:

One: Set a routine, a time you go to bed each night, this time will vary depending on when you start your day. Effectively you want the time between going to sleep & waking to be 7-8 hours.  Have a routine before bed that is the same each night, whether it’s brushing your teeth & getting into your jammies or perhaps you have a shower before doing those things, it’s your bed time routine.  During this routine be conscious of your breathing, you want to be breathing calmly and slowly, take your time during your routine so your body & mind doesn’t feel rushed.  This is your calm time, if lights are needed use the minimal amount you can so you can still see what you need to do.  All of these help programme your brain that it’s time to sleep.

Two: DO NOT use your cell phone, tablet or laptop for at least 30 minutes prior to sleeping. These devices let of artificial blue light that the brain interprets as sunlight.  So using them sends mixed messages when your brain thinks it is sleep time and all of a sudden it’s thinking the sun is shining which is an inbuilt sign to wake up. If you use one for your alarm then mute you phone and make sure it is face down so you are not distracted by sound or light.  If you are easily tempted to pick it up put it out of arms reach, this will help in the morning also as you will need to get out of bed to turn the alarm off.

Three: Count, no not sheep, simple count from 1-10 and repeat, if you find your mind drifting into thoughts rather than counting you start from one again. The short cycle is what helps clear your mind helping it drift off to sleep. Hold off from feeling tempted to count higher as this stimulates the brain rather than calming it.  The short repetition is what you are looking for. People using this method regularly can fall asleep before they get to finish the first count of 10.  However, some nights you will need what feels like infinite cycles, on these nights don’t give up, keep at it then all of a sudden you will be in a peaceful slumber.

Four: Listen to a guided sleep meditation, one that helps relax your mind. There are many options out there, here are a couple to get you started.  Yoga Nidra for Sleep, Fall asleep in 10 minutes or Field of Dreams.  Listening to these is the only exception made for using an electronic device when it’s sleep time, the great thing is you can saves these links during the day so when it comes the time you want to use them you only need to take a minute or so looking at your screen.  Then place the device face down and listen to the audio (yes you can have your phone audio on mute and listen to a recording this way you won’t get woken or distracted by notifications).

Five: When you find yourself thinking or commonly say to people that you can’t sleep, don’t sleep well. STOP flip the thought over and think instead I can sleep well, I will get a great night’s sleep. Manifestation is the art of confidently telling ourselves what we want to believe in ourselves so that it manifests into reality. Before you get cynical think about how easy it is for you to have self-limiting beliefs like I’m not worthy, I’m not good enough.  We are quick to accept negative thought patterns in ourselves in okay yet can be more hesitant to believe that positive thought patterns are even more okay for us to have.  In fact it’s imperative and I will go into these in depth in my Self Belief series.  For now it’s about believing a version of the story you want to write. If you want to be good at sleeping then you need to convince yourself that you are, this is achieved by FLIPPING your thoughts.

Six: If you use an alarm clock have the clock face positioned so you can not see the time.  What most of us do when we wake is check the time, this can cause unnecessary stress which then helps to prevent us from falling back to sleep quickly.  We can also be tempted to clock watch while trying to fall asleep.  When retraining our brain to adopt better sleeping habits we need to eliminate any distractions, this is a simple but very effective one to eliminate.

Seven: Stop drinking any caffeine based products for at least 2 hours before bed (the longer the better) and do not drink anything 30 minutes prior.  For good brain health we need to be drinking lots of fluid during the day, recommendation is 2+ litre’s (6-8 cups) per day of water. Our body is composed of roughly 60% That means when we are dehydrated – and most of us spend our days constantly dehydrated to some degree – we are affecting the performance of the majority of our body. Nearly all of our systems do not function as well without the proper water intake. So make sure you get enough during the day so your system can function well, water helps our digestive system work efficiently, when it’s not this can lead to sleep disruption.

All of these methods work independently or can be combined to guarantee you retrain your sleeping habits.  Here’s to great sleep, feeling happier, more energised and smarter.

If you have enjoyed this blog, the second in my “How small changes make profound effects” then register to be first to know about future instalments.

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