I know I am totally guilty of this scenario. . . I get into bed at a reasonable time… I have a “quick” look at Instagram or Facebook and before I know it it’s an hour and a half later!
In today’s hectic society we are getting less and less sleep. We should be aiming to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night, yet most people get closer to 6-7 hours or even less. Quality, restful sleep is just as important as a healthy diet and regular exercise, but sometimes it’s much harder to achieve. You might be getting yourself to bed earlier, but when your head hits the pillow your mind is still buzzing from the day. Here are a few tips that might help you drift off to sleep.
- Avoiding Stimulants After Midday
This tip is fairly obvious, but something we often tend to forget about. If you find that you are unable to sleep at night and you don’t really know why you may be consuming too much caffeine late in the day. Your body can continue to feel the effects of caffeine for 4-6 hours after you consume it. Caffeine can be hidden in things like your pre-workout supplements, which means if you take it before your workout at 6pm you will still have caffeine in your system until late into the night.
Try and limit your caffeine consumption to before midday and see whether this helps you sleep better.
- Avoid Bright Lights and Electronics
Your circadian rhythm is a biological clock which tells your body when to be awake and when to sleep. Bright lights, especially the blue light emitted from electronics, can impact your melatonin levels which will disturb your natural circadian rhythm. The lights will trick your body into thinking it needs to be awake late at night and suppress the release of melatonin, causing you to struggle to sleep even after you’ve turned out the lights.
Aim to stay off electronic devices such as your phone, iPad, computer, or TV for at least an hour before bed time, and if possible dim your lights. Some devices have a blue light filter which can be beneficial if you need to use your devices late at night.
Setting a strong night time routine can help you relax and settle in at night. Your routine should start at a similar time each night, and may involve a warm shower or bath, reading a book with dimmed lights, and then sleeping after half an hour. Find whatever routine works for you, and try to stick to it each night in order to have an easier time falling asleep. Your biological clock will begin to adapt to this schedule, meaning you will eventually find yourself getting tired at a regular time each night.
- White Noise & Distractions
Sometimes you just can’t follow the tips above and that’s ok! Maybe you had to stay back at work, or met with a friend for coffee in the afternoon. Or maybe your mind is just buzzing from the day and you can’t switch off and relax.
White noise it generally associated with babies and children, but as an adult this method can really help you to relax and drown out any thoughts that are keeping you awake. There are many apps you can download, and some even come with timers which will turn off the sounds after a certain time period.
Sometimes it can be stressful when you’re trying to sleep but you can’t, and you know you have to wake up in 7 hours, now it’s 6 hours and 28 minutes then it’s 6 hours and 04 minutes… Distraction methods such as recalling some of your favourite memories or holidays or your favourite movie or book may help to take your mind off the fact you need to be sleeping and help you drift off.
If you feel like you’ve tried everything and still can’t sleep, it might be time to see a health professional. A doctor will be able to work out whether there is a medical condition underlying your insomnia and go through treatment options or referrals which will work for you.