I have a good friend who can sleep anywhere. Cars, planes, trains. And the moment her head hits the pillow she’s out like a light.
Now I’m the least jealous person on the planet although I must confess I am slightly envious of her ability to instantly nod off because I STRUGGLE enormously.
Last week, on one particular school night, I hit the hay at 10pm. It took a good few hours to eventually drift off into what felt like a state of sporadic dozing. Then bam. At 3am I was wide awake. I tossed and turned. Went to the bathroom. Had a glass of water. Each act proved fruitless. At 4.30am I was still wide awake so switched on the light.
The previous week I’d moved house – one of the most stressful things you can do – and had a LOT on my mind so I made a list of all the things that were troubling me and jotted down possible solutions. I even composed an email. After 20 minutes or so I turned off the lamp. Guess what? I fell asleep instantly. Why I didn’t think of writing everything down before is beyond me as I always keep a notebook by the side of my bed!
Below Neil Shah, founder of The Stress Management Society, a not for profit organisation which offers practical help and advice on managing stress, shares his quick tips on achieving a better night’s kip.
KEEP A JOURNAL
Write down everything that’s on your mind. Thoughts, worries, problems, to-do lists. This can reduce night-time anxiety and could help you fall asleep faster.
HIDE YOUR CLOCK
Listening to a ticking clock or constantly checking your phone to see how many hours you have left before you need to wake up causes unnecessary anxiety.
VISUALISE BLOWING BUBBLES
Think of a situation that took your energy and left you feeling drained and tired or made you feel upset and uneasy. Visualise blowing a bubble and imagine putting that situation in the centre and letting it go. Keep doing this until you get your energy back, feel better or lighter. It’s a great way of clearing your mind.
USE YOUR BEDROOM FOR SLEEPING ONLY
Ban TV, phones and tablets from the bedroom. It has been proven that exposure to bright white and blue lights at night prevent our brains from releasing melatonin – the key hormone that tells our bodies that it’s time to sleep.
MEDITATE OR COUNT
Meditation allows us to centre ourselves and relax the body – studies have shown it decreases stress and lowers our heart rate. For beginners who are struggling to fall asleep try counting backwards from 100. If you lose track, restart and focus on the present.
AVOID DAYTIME NAPS
Although many say that having a 20-minute snooze in the afternoon improves alertness, performance and mood in general, napping for longer has been proven to disrupt sleep. If your energy is flagging meditate instead.
ESTABLISH A WIND-DOWN ROUTINE
According to experts at Harvard Medical School a calming bedtime routine is essential for getting a good night’s sleep. It keeps your internal clock in check, which helps you fall asleep and wake up effortlessly. Every parent understands the importance of preparing a child for bed so treat yourself with the same respect.
OPEN A WINDOW
Our body temperature drops as we fall asleep so having a cooler room to start with may help decrease the amount of time it takes to nod off.
Do you struggle to sleep or have you found a method that works for you? I’ve love to hear from you in the comments below.
For advice on how to manage stress visit the Stress Management Society