Have you ever laid in bed and stared at the ceiling, unable to fall asleep? Or you may have gone to sleep easily enough, but you find yourself waking up the next day, not feeling rested at all!
Sleep is so important to our health and wellbeing. We have all experienced how we feel when we don’t sleep well enough. Our brain feels like it is in some kind of dense fog, our reflexes are numbed, our memory is appalling, and we just don’t feel good.
If this lack of sleep happens regularly, we may even develop symptoms that are close those of depression.
So, what is the secret to a good night’s sleep?
1. Try and stay away from blue light before going to bed
This is a hard one. TVs, phones, tablets, computers… all of these emit blue light. Blue light in itself isn’t a bad thing, we naturally are exposed to it during the day. The problem with exposure to blue light in the evening is that it suppresses the production of melatonin, the hormone that helps us sleep.
So, if you find sleeping through the night or falling asleep difficult, try and stay away from any kind of technological device for the last hour before your bedtime.
You could use this new found time to enjoy activities that will help you relax and prepare you for sleep. Reading a book, having a bath, doing some gentle yoga and meditation are all good activities to be done in the evening.
2. Have a pen and paper by your bed
Have a pen and paper by your bed is a good idea for 2 reasons:
- Reason 1: A mind full of worries isn’t going to help you sleep!
Take the thoughts out of your head and into paper. If you are worried about anything, write it down. You can throw the paper away later if you like, but just get the thoughts out of your head. More often than not, just organising the thoughts to put them down on paper can make them seem easier to handle.
- Reason 2: Practice gratitude
There is nothing quite like gratitude to end the day in a positive, uplifting way.
Take a few moments to write down at least 3 things that have happened during your day and that you feel grateful for. I make sure I do it every night and it feels so nice to look back on the day and remember the good things that have happened.
On the days when you don’t feel so good and you think that your day has been a total failure, looking back and finding a few things that were good can really shift your mood and make your mind more peaceful.
3. Do some yoga or meditation
Yoga and meditation in the evening can be used to quieten the mind and help you sleep. Postures such as the lying down twist, the seated forward bend and the child pose all help you unwind and relax.
In terms of meditation, you don’t need to make it complicated. Spend a few minutes in any position that feels good for you – sitting up, lying down on your yoga mat or in your bed – and focus your mind on your breath. Watch the breath coming in and out, without trying to change it in any way. If thoughts pop in your mind, let them go. I like to imagine that my thoughts are like balloons that float away in the air, getting smaller and smaller.
4. Practice diaphragmatic breathing
The diaphragmatic breathing, also called the belly breath, is a type of deep breathing that causes the abdomen to rise and fall as you breathe in and out. This breathing technique promotes relaxation and will quieten your mind.
To practise it, get in your bed and lie down on your back. Close your eyes and place your hands on your abdomen. Start to notice the rise and fall of the abdomen with the breath. Don’t try and change the breath, just breathe normally, allowing the abdomen to move with the breath.
After just a few moments, you will feel your whole body start to relax. You can gently keep your mind on the breath, and you might just find yourself falling asleep in this position.
I hope these advices will help you to get the restful night’s sleep that you deserve.