Oh, sleepless nights. How weth wish to avoid thee!
I hope you’ve found the first set of sleep tips very useful already. They can be found in the Are You Making These Sleep Hygiene Mistakes article.
Now let us continue onto the second half of sleep blockers so that we can help you get rid of these for goood. Because feeling rested and having a lot of energy every single day matters.
6) Relaxing sleep rituals
Having one or more sleep rituals before bedtime sends a strong message to your body to begin to unwind. Especially if you’ve had one of those super hectic days. These rituals should then be calming and relaxing to set the right tone.
Love having a hot bath or shower? Snuggling with your partner and talking about your day? Or how about meditating or reading a great book with a cup of caffeine-free tea? All allowed!
Having a hot bath can be especially useful as it will raise your body temperature, causing you to feel sleepy as your body temperature begins to drop.
You can develop your own rituals to remind your body that it is time to sleep. Just try for these not to involve too much blue light and technology (more on this below).
7) The right sleep environment
Your body temperature drops when you’re asleep. So having a cool temperature in your bedroom is sleep-inducing. Try setting the room temperature to 16 – 18 Celsius to hit the sweet spot.
Anywhere below 12 degrees might be too cold but do play around with this. Your body is unique – just like everybody else’s.
When we see light, our bodies assume that it’s time to wake up. It starts to release the stress hormone cortisol, rather than the sleep hormone melatonin (more on this in my previous article).
It is therefore important to sleep in a dark environment, with good curtains or blinds. A sleep mask can also go a long way here.
This is why it is best to stay away from all blue light technology devices at least an hour before sleep. They keep us alert and hinder the release of melatonin.
But don’t you worry. I’m not asking you to think about the meaning of life, in complete darkness, an hour before sleep. Unless that’s what you usually do. In which case – can we be friends?
Instead, invest in a few light bulbs that emit red light and place them strategically in your bedroom and bathroom (if possible).
Mattress, mattress, mattress. Is yours comfortable enough so you feel rested upon waking, with no aches and pains?
A bedroom is a place for rest, relaxation, and intimacy. It is your sanctuary. Answering emails or working from your bedroom (or even your bed!) disrupts this connection and can result in your mind not associating your bed with just sleeping anymore.
It is also worth noting that switching off or muting all appliances that could wake or alert you (with notifications) should also be done within the hour before going to sleep to ensure no new ‘business’ enters your mind.
You probably have that friend that can fall asleep anywhere. I know I do. And I envy them every time. But most of us need to block out the evening noise to have a night of uninterrupted peaceful sleep.
Shut the windows and invest in a fan instead (in summer) or use earplugs to block out anything you don’t want to be listening to at night. Sleepless nights no more.
8) Smart napping during the day
Napping can be a great way to catch up on any sleep we didn’t manage to get at night. Did you know that some of the famous icons used napping regularly to fit their controversial lives?
There are a few rules to being a smart napper to make sure we get the most out of it:
a) Prime napping time is between 1 and 3 pm. After lunch.
b) If you manage to sleep for up to 90 minutes during this time you’ll get one full sleep cycle under your belt. Yay!
c) A NASA study suggests that 26 minutes is the perfect nap time. So set your alarm for 90 minutes and see where your body, and mind, take you.
d) Do not nap too late in the day so it doesn’t disrupt your nighttime sleep. This is the most important rule in the napping space to avoid sleepless nights.
9) Mind chatter
The good old mind chatter – one of the worst culprits of bad sleep. Your mind is thinking about a thousand and one things that you could have done better that day and that you’ll need to do tomorrow.
But once you’re in bed your mind needs to be as quiet as possible. Therefore, as part of your sleep hygiene, it is so so important to stop thinking about the day, the next day, or any other day for that matter.
It’s time to think about, well, nothing.
Focusing on your breath, how comfortable you are in your bed, doing a gratitude exercise, or just listening to a calming sound of nature (that’s either coming from the outside or an app) should help you drift off.
Should this fail, I personally like the Headspace app, their sleep meditations, and bedtime stories (oh yes). Do make sure your phone’s light is set to a warmer tone in the evening so looking at the screen doesn’t send the wrong message to your brain.
Conclusion – Sleepless Nights
And that’s a wrap! I hope these 9 tips in the Sleep Hygiene Series provided you with plenty of inspiration to create your perfect sleep hygiene.
One additional tool that may support you in this exercise is keeping a sleep diary for two weeks. That way you will be able to track the new actions and see where they’ve made an actual difference.
Because the last thing you need when going to sleep… is worrying about sleep!
Need some additional help? I’m here for you.
Read More in This Series: