One of the most positive actions I take towards improving my wellbeing is to make sure I get enough sleep.
I wish I was one of those people who doesn’t need much sleep and can spring out of bed after a late night – but I’m not. Lack of sleep affects me greatly. It impacts my mood, energy levels, how proactive I am and even slows down my cognitive processing abilities (aka it takes me twice as long to get my brain in action…).
Basically I’m a hot mess without it.
Understanding what affects our sleep
We’re all different; and different factors affect our sleep. I’m not majorly sensitive to caffeine: although please note, I’m not necking late night espressos. However, alcohol has a massive impact on my sleep. Any more than two small glasses of wine and it’s game over; I can’t function the next day.
My sleep is impacted also depending on what else is going on in my life. I tend to reenact events of the day, thinking about what I could have said and done differently. My mind starts to race and I struggle to switch off. This is one of the reasons why podcasts are my best friend.
My sleep routine
I need a solid 8 hours sleep to function as a reasonably productive human being. I have a pretty standard sleep routine and I try to go to bed between 10.00-10.15pm every night. I listen to a podcast or a talking book before going to sleep and more often than not, I’m asleep by the end.
I try and stick to a good sleep routine. I give myself an hour to watch a TV programme or read before going to bed to put myself in the frame of mind that it’s night time. Or I take a bath with epsom salts and lavender essential oils giving myself the time to switch off.
Sleep can be affected by so many external factors that it’s not always in our gift to be able to change it; however, building in good sleep habits will help.
8 ways to get into good sleep habits
Follow these basic tips to get into good sleep habits.
- Have a consistent bedtime which is early enough to make sure you’re getting the right amount of sleep for you. Guidelines recommend at least seven hours of sleep a night – but personally I think it differs from person to person.
- Wind down an hour before bedtime by taking a bath, reading, meditating and any other relaxing activities.
- Turn off your phone in your bedroom. Now, this makes me sound a bit hypocritical because I use my phone to listen to podcasts and audiobooks so I turn the light right down so it doesn’t disturb me.
- Make your sleeping area relaxing with a comfortable bed, clean sheets and soft lighting.
- Avoid caffeine and excessive alcohol, as well as rich and fatty foods which can all disrupt sleep patterns.
- Exercise at least ten minutes a day – even just a slow walk will make a difference.
- Make sure you get some exposure to natural light during the day to keep your body producing melatonin, which makes you sleepy at night.
- Keep your bedroom dark at night so your body clock (circadian rhythm) learns to differentiate between night and day.