When you think about it, sleep shouldn’t be THAT difficult. You’ve been doing it since you were born. Why then do I spend countless nights laying in bed admiring my ceiling? I set out on a mission to boot the insomnia once and for all. Here I share the secrets (?) I learnt and used to finally get those much needed z’s.
1: Create and stick to a sleep routine
Now when I first came across this I thought it was absurd. I thought, “Doing the same thing before bed every night won’t make a difference, pfft”. Then I tried it. It is probably the best thing I have found to help me sleep.
The premise is that if you do the same things before bed each night, it gets your brain into the mindset of sleeping. It’s like it subconsciously prepares you for a peaceful night’s sleep.
My routine involves having a teaspoon of honey (seriously all the good things like anti-bacterial, throat-soothing and makes the body release serotonin which promotes sleep) in herbal tea. I slowly sip this while unwinding, removing makeup and all the rest of it. A sleep playlist, of chilled songs that calm me are also a must have. I have been working on getting to bed around the same time each night – that still needs a bit of work.
2: Limit caffeine after lunch
Coffee is my guilty pleasure. The smell. The sensation of that first sip. A good cup of coffee can dust away all my worries and help me take on the day. I know that coffee has a pretty big affect on me though – probably more than most. The other day, I bought the most delicious chocolate covered coffee beans (from the Noosa Chocolate Factory). I had been so good but it was about 6 pm and I had some serious chocolate cravings – may have delved into the chocolate coffee bean supply. I DID NOT SLEEP FOR HOURS AND HOURS.
I have been working on not consuming any caffeine after midday. Some days this is more challenging than others for me. So worth it though when I have those blissful uninterrupted hours of sleep.
3: Before bed yoga
Sometimes I find this whole “wind-down” thing a bit out of reach. I would try and then end up getting frustrated with myself that my mind was running a thousand miles with all the things it wanted to think about. Yoga is a great way to calm your body and get ready for sleep.
Don’t be intimidated – I ain’t no pretzel. My idea of pre-bed yoga are some pretty chilled poses like child’s pose, cat pose and supine twist. Really just some super gentle stretching but makes such a difference! But if you are up for the more intense stuff before bed, go right ahead.
4: Escape technology
We spend so much of our time now days behind a screen. I probably borderline on a little too much. The white-blue light of a screen actually tricks your brain into thinking it’s day time. It can reset your body clock and make it almost impossible to fall asleep.
Many devices now have the option to change the colour of the display lighting to make it more warm – which is much better sleep-wise. On an Iphone, it’s under Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift.
While this is great, turning off the computer/tablet/phone/other devices is even better. I have heard that some people will not bring any devices into the bedroom. I don’t know if I could even cope with this! For now I will settle for not using them 30 minutes before bed. At least that’s something, right?
5: Dim the lights
Kind of keeping with the technology theme, but this has made such a huge difference to me. When I moved into my unit, all of the fixed lighting had bright, stark white light bulbs. While this is great for offices, studios and photography, it is pretty poor for sleep.
One of the best things I did was replace most of the fixed bulbs and all of my lamps with warm light globes. When I’m starting to wind down at night, I switch from the few white lights to the warm ones and instantly notice the difference.
What helps you sleep better?