Ever woken in the morning after falling asleep stressed or in the grip of something that causes you worry, waking more drained than you felt the night before? Have you got up in the morning feeling as if you’ve not even slept, and that your exhaustion has simply carried over from the day before? If you do not take charge of your sleep, your exhaustion and fatigue will only increase, and it’s a matter of time before burnout appears.
Sleep has always been an issue for me. Nodding off sometimes takes an age, and I have lost count of how many sheep I was meant to lose count of. But a simple bedtime routine I stumbled across in 2018 has really helped, even for when I am at my most stressed. We all know sleep is important to us, and there is ample research out there to prove it. Seeking out helpful information and employing it is naturally going to make you feel good. Try out this evening/night routine for a week and see how you feel after seven days. Be strict with yourself and try to stick with it. Some of it, as you will see, is a bit chilly, but fight on through and catch some much needed zzzzz’s!
Get 30 to 40 minutes of exercise in the day, preferably in the morning, to stimulate your body and tire yourself naturally. Exercising in the morning not only wakes you up for the day, but also brings you down gently towards the end. A good hit of endorphins and some burnt off energy will leave you feeling relaxed and content in the evening. If you cannot exercise in the morning, try your hardest not to exercise less than two hours before you intend to go to bed. Although exercise shouldn't make you sleepy immediately, it can help your body better regulate its internal clock, so it is best your exercising is completed as early in the day as possible. Ditch the blue screens
Avoid blue screen electronics an hour before bed. There is a time and place for using computers and gadgets, and immediately before bed is not the right time. You’ve probably noticed that long after you’ve turned off that computer or tablet, you were tossing and turning in hope of falling asleep. Melatonin is a hormone that your body produces naturally. It keeps track of your ‘internal clock’ and plays a major role in times we need to sleep. This hormone builds up as soon as it starts to get dark. Melatonin is the main culprit for why you feel sleepy. So, when the amount of melatonin reaches its peak in your body, you will feel drowsy and yawn, until we do something about it; sleep.
Melatonin is conditioned to drop as soon as it’s morning, or when we come into contact with light. So if you find yourself staring at a screen before bed, you are tricking your body into not releasing melatonin when it should be, only prolonging the time it will take to fall asleep and have a good night's sleep.
Well, not too cold! Research has shown that our body’s core temperature dips in the evening in preparation for sleep. So, keeping the room temperature around 15.6 to 19.4 degrees Celsius (a little specific I know!) will help us get that much needed shuteye.
Interestingly, the bottoms of our feet and palms of our hands are efficient at releasing heat. I’m pretty sure most of us do this anyway, but if you’re looking to stay cool, just slip your feet and hands from underneath the duvet! Meditate
In recent years, meditation and mindfulness have really bounced onto the scene. Apps like Calm and Headspace have really popularised sitting around, closing your eyes, and switching off. And why not?! Once a cynic myself, I now quite enjoy listening to some ambient sounds, or maybe a bedtime story by Matthew McConaughey.
Meditation has so many benefits, helping counteract memory loss, also improving focus and concentration. It helps to regulate mood, emotions, reduces stress, and can clear up anxiety. Mediation has been proven to help make digestion more efficient, lower blood pressure, and decrease the tension within your muscles.
Become a fiction bookworm
Try reading a few chapters of a gripping novel to get a better night’s sleep. (Note: it’s widely believed that non-fiction is more stimulating to the mind whereas fiction helps you drift off. So put down that interesting personal-development book before bed, and pick up a classic James Patterson crime novel.
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