We spend almost a third of our lives asleep. This time is considered just as crucial to our wellbeing as eating, drinking and breathing. Sleep helps us maintain better mental and physical health. Whilst we sleep we process information and our emotions. Not having enough sleep can affect our ability to communicate, pay attention and digest information, which in turn can lead to irritability and forgetfulness, and mistakes and accidents in the workplace. Sleep allows our brains to recover and recuperate, which is why it is important to get a full and good night’s rest.
In the short term, medication can be a useful tool in tackling sleep issues, however in the long term it is much more beneficial to develop a healthy psychological approach to sleeping. The following brief guide offers some advice on how to do so.
Establish a Sleeping Pattern
Going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time each day helps programme your body into a natural sleeping routine, which will not only help you to fall asleep, but will also help in making you feel less tired on waking.
Create a Peaceful Environment
It is important to be able to associate your bedroom with rest. Whilst sleeping your room should ideally be warm, without being too hot; as dark as possible; and quiet.
Consuming less caffeine, especially in the evenings, helps induce a deeper sleep. If you do regularly consume caffeinated drinks, try switching one or two out for a herbal tea, lemon verbena is a great alternative, particularly in the evenings when you are winding down from the day.
Regular exercise, even if only moderate, helps to relieve stress. However it is important to keep in mind that exercising too strenuously in the couple of hours before bed can in fact act as a stimulant and keep you awake.
If you have time during your lunch break, take half an hour to stroll through your local park, or take a short walk around the block. This will also help refreshen your mind for the afternoon.
Avoid Late Night Indulgences
Too much food and/or alcohol before bed can disrupt your sleep. If possible try to refrain from consuming either for at least 2 hours prior to going to sleep. The same is also true of cigarettes.
Relax Before Bed
Take some time to wind down from your day. If you have worries weighing on your mind, it can be helpful to write a productive list of them to work through the following day when you are feeling more refreshed.
If you find yourself lying awake, unable to fall asleep, avoid becoming anxious by clock watching. Turn your clock to face away from you, and trust your in your alarm. You can also get up and spend some quiet time listening to relaxing music or reading. When you feel naturally sleepy return to bed for a more restful night’s sleep.
Napping during the day can disrupt your sleeping pattern, as it encourages lots of shorter periods of light rest, as opposed to a longer and more restorative deeper sleep.
Whilst the above advice should help in creating a more restful sleeping schedule, it is important to find out what works for you as an individual. Try to identify the reasons and/or factors that play a role in disrupting your sleep, and work on overcoming them individually.