Sleep: and how to improve it.
Sleep, most of us do not get enough it. Having spoken to many people about their sleep patterns, often quite a decent number almost baulk at the idea of getting more sleep, or being able to get more sleep. The single matter of which comes up again and again is that of time. Time appears to be in short supply. Time it seems, stands in the way of many from really making a good nights sleep work for them.
The irony is that as Albert Einstein discusses at length; time is a relative concept. It expands and shrinks depending on our mental state. When we see things clearly, are feeling well rested and relaxed, time often appears is ample supply. When we are feeling stressed, worried or doubtful about our lives or aspects of it, time appears like a shrinking resource, that we never have a enough of. In that moment, it’s not lack of time, but lack of sense of time which creates the stresses, and belief’s which prevent us from fully succeeding getting the rest we require.
For Parents, who really need sleep.
You may have small children, who wake repeatedly during the night. All I would say, is use these same tools and tips on them, to help them improve their sleep. Children respond to positive bed time routines just as much as adults. Misbehaving children can often simply require improvement to their sleep patterns, to improve their behaviour, as is proven by numerous studies, in which misdiagnosed children were said to have ADHD, had in fact sleep apnea. Once the sleep was improved, so did the behaviour.
For Business Owners and Managers who need sleep.
You may have much to do. We all do. However leveraging time and resources need to be your priority. In order to do that, leveraging a good night’s sleep will improve your output, and maximise your problem solving abilities. Amplify your focus, and you will be able to direct yourself to the high priority, high yield tasks that drive success.
For Students who need sleep
You will not remember half of what you study, if you do not focus your efforts in allowing your brains natural mechanism for information storage to take place during a good nights slumber, if you infuse your blood stream with alcohol on a regular basis, and pull all nighters. Your brain is a sensitive organ that requires care. A good nights sleep is all that stands in your way from academic success.
In any case, it does seem difficult, when our time is strapped, and we have a long list of things to do, to prioritise what appears to be a luxury. The truth is that sleep is a basic need just like food or water, and when deprived of which, we are also disallowing being our most productive, happy and successful selves.
The Pathway to a good nights sleep:
1. Stick to a schedule. Go to bed, and wake up at the same time, each day. We are creatures of habit. Sleeping later on the weekends won’t make up for the lack of slumber during the week. It will also make it harder to wake up on Monday morning. Set an alarm for bedtime. Your iPhone has a function for this. This is the most important of the steps. If nothing else, remember this.
2. Exercise no later than 2 to 3 hours before bed. It increases body temperature, which as we know, is not beneficial to the release of melatonin.
3. Avoid caffeine and nicotine. Coffee, tea, coke and even dark chocolate contain caffeine, and will have a harmful effect on your body sensing the sleep pressure from the build up of adenosine. A cup of coffee in the afternoon will categorically make it harder for you to fall asleep at night. Nicotine is a stimulant. It will often cause smokers to sleep very lightly. Worse still, nicotine produces a withdrawal and will force smokers to wake up early for that next ‘hit’.
4. Avoid Alcoholic drinks before bed. It may help you relax, but it will take many hours for your body to completely remove it from your system.
5. Keep your evening meals and beverages light. Heavy meals can cause indigestion which will affect your sleep. Drinking too many fluids in the evening can also mean you will have more awakenings to go to the loo.
6. If possible, avoid taking medicines that delay or disrupt your sleep. Ask your healthcare practitioner or pharmacist if any of your medication affects sleep, and find an alternative.
7. Avoid having a nap after 3pm. For obvious reasons, you will have alleviated your sleep pressure for later in the evening, and so will make it harder to get back to sleep when bedtime comes around.
8. Relax before bed. Reading, or listening to music should be part of your bedtime routine. Watching television in the hours before only has negative effects on your sleep, by inhibiting the release once again of melatonin.
9. Take a hot bath before bed. The drop in body temperature after getting out of the bath may help you feel sleepy. The bath can also help you relax before bed and make you more ready for sleep.
10. Environment is key. Dark and cool your bedroom needs to be. Leave ALL screens or gadgets downstairs or outside of the bedroom. Anything that might buzz or beep during the night has got to go. Bright light, and warm temperatures only lessen the depth of your sleep. If you have insomnia, remove any visible clock. Clocks do not help sleep, especially when awakening in the middle of the night, set to only increase the anxiety we feel being awake when we know we should be sleeping.
11. Get a decent amount of sunlight exposure. Daylight is key to regulating daily sleep patterns. Aim to get outside in natural sunlight for at least half an hour every day. If possible, wake up with the sun in the morning or use very bright lights in the morning. The experts recommend that if you have problems falling asleep, then you should get an hour of exposure to morning sunlight and turn down the lights before bedtime.
12. Don’t lie in bed awake. If you start feeling anxious or worried, get up, and go and do something until the urge to sleep is strong enough for you to want to get back to bed. The anxiety of not sleeping, can make it harder to get to sleep.
Some other ideas:
13: Have a table spoon of honey before bed (before you brush your teeth). This will stimulate your REM sleep more and you will wake up feeling more refreshed, but having had some fairly vivid dreams.
14. Take a magnesium and zinc supplement before bed. We usually get these two minerals from our food, however modern farming methods leave vegetables and fruit somewhat deficient in these two, and then it is down to us to add a supplement to help. These help relax the sympathetic nervous system and will improve the quality of your nights sleep.
If information was all we needed… today, lack of information is definitely not something which we have. The most important aspect of these steps is to actually go and do something about it. If you do have problems sleeping, then find an expert who can help you. It is not something to be messed with. If you wish to learn more, and think you need more help in general building good healthy habits then finding a good coach who is qualified will work wonders and be worth investment. Please get in touch if you have any further comments or suggestions!
Thanks for reading!