Ah, bed. Everyone’s favourite place to be. We sometimes forget how important a decent nights sleep is in order for us to get through the day; mentally, physically and emotionally. Lack of sleep has a direct effect on your hormone levels, moods, weight, concentration, and ability to deal with it all.
And yet, the struggle is real for many of us who spend night after night tossing and turning and looking at the ceiling. If you’re one of us, here are some ways to get more zeds and become a sleep ninja.
When you consider that more than 85 per cent of mammals sleep for short periods throughout the day and that many cultures take a siesta every afternoon, you can see how naps are a thing. If you find yourself slumping at 3 pm, a nap might be your solution. Research shows that 20 minutes is the perfect nap time, any longer and you’ve overnapped, and can wake up even sleepier and grumpier. Set an alarm for 20 minutes time, and take a time out.
Exercise has lots of benefits in terms of sleep. It can improve daytime sleepiness by reducing levels of inflammatory markers that cause many conditions like obesity, diabetes and sleep apnea. Exercise can also help with the quality of sleep you get once you do nod off and is a noted cure for insomnia. Like napping, don’t do it too close to bedtime, because you’re too pumped to chill straight afterwards.
Pain is a big cause of sleep deprivation. Apart from the major pain issues, sore and tight muscles and even things like jumpy legs can cause you to lose sleep, not just because of the pain itself, but also because if you have pain, you’re probably stressing about it, which leaves you in a vicious cycle. A hot bath or a massage can help relax your muscles, and ease your pain, but if there’s something not right with you, get it seen to. Pronto.
In ye olden days, before we had false lighting, people would just go to bed when it got dark. Sure what else could they do? But nowadays our sleeping patterns have changed, and we don’t know where we are. Light, which is one of the most crucial external forces affecting sleep, can hinder or delay our internal clock and push our bedtime later and later. We know your Ma keeps saying it, but keep your phone, tablet and laptop out of your bedroom, as they produce a type of blue light that produces a lot of energy. Turn your alarm clock to face the wall, and make sure the curtains are completely closed.
5. Not having a ritual
You need a little ritual at night to tell your body that it’s moving from commotion to calmness. You can’t go from crazy havoc to face down snoring and dribbling. For an hour before you want to sleep, dial everything down a little, turn down the lights, don’t get too hot or too cold, avoid aggro or stressful TV (Sorry Game of Thrones).
Here’s some other suggestions:
- Stash all digital devices. TV is not too bad but books are better.
- Take a warm shower or bath. Have you tried Epsom salts? You’re welcome!
- Sip some herbal tea. Or anything without caffeine.
- Clear your mind by creating a to-do list for the next day, or write in your journal.
- Resist talking on the phone too close to bedtime, and for sure avoid WhatsApp chats.
- Meditate, stretch or practice some yoga poses.
- Hug someone, anyone. Who doesn’t love hugs??