I have been an insomniac since my late teens and I am nearly 50! Over the years I have tried all sorts of sleep hygiene hints and tips to get a good night’s sleep, some worked, and some did not.
Sleep, around 7 to 8 hours at night for adults is essential for good physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. A lack of sleep or poor sleep hygiene can lead to:
- Weakened immune system
- Mental exhaustion
- Cognitive impairment including lack of concentration, attention, or awareness
We all have an optimal sleep requirement per night for normal functioning, that can be anywhere from four to eleven hours. For many years I functioned on about 4 hours a night, on average!
An average night’s sleep is divided into multiple cycles of approximately 90-100 minutes and each of these cycles is divided into REM (rapid eye movement) and four stages of non-REM sleep. REM accounts for about 20% of sleep while stages 3 and 4, the most refreshing, deepest make up another 10-20%.
Why Can’t I Get To sleep?
There are lots of things that affect our ability to get to sleep and affect these cycles:
- Excessive worrying
- Bad Time Management
- Inconsistent Sleep Habits
- Prescribed Medication
- Lack of Exercise
- Eating late at night or eating heavy, fatty food in the evening
How the Get A Better Night’s Sleep
- Keep a routine, go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekend
- Take time to relax before bed. Try having a warm bath or meditate
- Reserve the bedroom for sex and sleep only, no other distractions such as the TV
- Avoid caffeine, particularly in the afternoon or evening
- Avoid napping as it can disrupt your sleep schedule
- Manage your stress and time
- Get active, just 30 minutes exercise in a morning can make a big difference to quality of your sleep
- Try not to eat no later than 6pm if possible
- Journal to help calm your thoughts before bed
- Use a weighted blanket to increase levels of serotonin and melatonin leading to a peaceful sleep
- Make sure that your bedroom is quiet and dark. Use blackout blinds/curtains, an eye mask and ear plugs
- Aromatherapy oils such as Lavender, Geranium, Rose, Vanilla, Jasmine and just add your chosen oil or blend of oils to a diffuser and breathe in the calming effects before bed or make a pillow mist. You can buy ready blended pillow sprays or make your own by combining essential oil and water in a spray bottle. For every ½ cup of water, add 4-5 drops of essential oil
- Sleep with a crystal under your pillow such as Labradorite, Moonstone, Amethyst, Rose Quartz or Lepidolite
- Melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland regulates the wake/sleep cycle. To increase your melatonin levels naturally try to get real, natural light exposure daily, sleep in complete darkness when possible, avoid using your computer or watching TV for at least 30 mins before going to bed, use low wattage yellow, orange or red light bulbs if you need a source of light at night, keep your room at night cool, no higher than 70C, take a hot bath, use a sauna or steam room 90 to 120 minutes before you sleep, throw away your loud alarm clock or meditate
I find that having an evening sleep hygiene routine consisting of a warm bath, followed by meditation, a piece of Labradorite under my pillow, use of an aromatherapy room spray and roller on my pulse points, sleeping under a weighted blanket wearing an eye mask to make my bedroom as dark as possible helps me to now get, on average 6 hours sleep per night.
You can find lots of help and resources at the Sleep Foundation.
Don’t forget every Sunday I share a Self Care Sunday Idea to help you stay on track in terms of your own self care.
Have a wonderful evening and a peaceful, restful and good night’s sleep, much love Joanne
Disclaimer: This article is for informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.