For some, falling asleep can be one of the easiest things in the world, however, there are many of us who struggle to close our eyes at the end of a long day. Difficulty in falling asleep is not unheard of and I have even written a post about it previously. Although it is common, there is not always a single solution to the problem, sometimes multiple methods are needed to achieve that great nights sleep until eventually it becomes a second nature to ease yourself into that slumber.
- Sleep at regular times:
One of the first methods that can overtime help with sleeping easier is to sleep and wake up at regular times. Keeping regular sleeping hours will programme the brain and the internal body clock to get used to a set routine. This could mean that you might need to say goodbye to those long lye-ins, however the benefit that this will have on your sleeping pattern will mean that in time you will wake up feeling much more refreshed and awake. Most adults need between six and nine hours of sleep a night. so setting yourself a regular bedtime schedule will allow for you to monitor your sleeping patterns much more accurately and overall improve your ability to fall asleep easily.
- Wind down:
Do you ever find yourself getting into bed and still feeling full of energy? Winding down is a critical stage in preparing for bed and there are many ways to relax before going to sleep that will not only help you fall asleep, but will also help to relieve stress and anxiety before bed. Start with a warm bath to help your body reach a temperature that is more idea for sleep, this bath should not be hot as this will cause your body temperature to fluctuate too much and will encourage a more restless nights sleep. A warm bath will help to relax your muscles and will introduce feelings of comfort and security which will further promote a more rewarding sleep.
If a warm bath is not your forte then relaxation exercises are another effective option. Light yoga stretches help to relax the muscles and release energy. Yoga has a brilliant effect on the body in regards to strength and overall fitness but it can also help to ease the mind of stress and aid sleep. Although it is an incredibly effective method for encouraging sleep, try to avoid exercising for too long or too vigorously as it will have the opposite effect with the release of endorphins that will bring forward more energy and alertness.
Relaxation CD's are a great tool for sending you to sleep, however if you struggle to fall asleep with noise then you can use gentle hypnotic music and sound effects to calm you as you are preparing for bed, by doing this you will be able to distract your mind from worry and simply relax as the day draws to an end. Reading a book or listening to the radio also has a similar effect as it allows for you to focus on one thing and helps to declutter the mind. Another method for decluttering the mind before bed is to write down a "To Do" list, this helps to organise your thoughts and clear your mind of any distractions before sleep.
Rewind your day. What was the last thing that you done before getting into bed? What about before that? Remembering the details of the day in reverse order clears the mind of worries and helps to recall the importance of certain moments. Reflecting on the day helps to put everything into perspective and organise your thoughts, this will allow for a clearer mind before bed which in turn will improve your mental state during sleep.
- Make your bedroom sleep friendly:
Your bedroom should be a comfortable and relaxing place. Your mind reacts to your environment and if you are sleeping in a room that is distracting then you will become restless. TV's, phones, light, noise or even uncomfortable bedding will all effect sleep. Light from electronic devices or outside lights can greatly effect sleep as it reduces the amount of melatonin produced by the body, this is a hormone that facilitates sleepiness. When there is a light it encourages the mind to become more alert as it is a distraction for the mind and mimics daylight.
If you do not have thick curtains, you should invest. They will keep out any light that could negatively impact on your sleep as well as help to regulate the temperature in the bedroom by creating a slight insulation around the window. By keeping a regular temperature in the room you will be able to have a much more comfortable sleep as your body heat will not fluctuate and cause restlessness.
Finally, keep your bedroom tidy. A cluttered room encourages a cluttered mind and keeping a tidy bedroom will help to calm the mind before sleep. Tripping over things to get to the bed can be incredibly stressful and will not have a positive impact when trying to fall asleep, so keeping the bedroom clean can greatly improve the simplicity of falling asleep. This does not mean that the bedroom needs to be pristine at all times, it naturally helps to get ready for bed without stepping on and over a variety of obstacles.
- Pillow placement:
A pillow does not need to be exclusively used under your head. There are many benefits to using a pillow to support other parts of the body whilst sleeping, not only can it make you more comfortable which will improve the sleep, but it can also help to alleviate stress from areas of the body. For example, when lying on your side, place a pillow between your legs. This will position the leg so that it doesn't pull the hip or put stress on the spine. When lying on your back, a pillow can be placed beneath the knees to help sink the back into the mattress and encourage further relaxation through the entire body.
- Contact your doctor:
If sleep becomes too difficult to attain, you may need to consult with your GP. Sleep is an incredibly important factor of our mental and physical health and it is important to have an understanding of wether or not your difficulty with sleeping is simply a short term issue or if it is a result of a medical condition.
Everyone deserves a good nights sleep and there are always ways to attain one. For some it is very easy but for a great deal of people it takes a lot of work to achieve an appropriate measure of sleep. With these techniques and possibly with the addition of exercise, healthy eating and meditation, sleep will no longer be an ambition but an achievement that it painless and effortless to accomplish.