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Do You Sleep Like A Baby?

Many  people’s answer to the question in the title would be a resounding “No!”

Perhaps you struggle to get to sleep at night, tossing and turning as your mind whirls. Or maybe you wake at some ridiculous hour and find yourself clock-watching, or worrying about life in general, or just worrying about being awake.

Not only is a disturbed night, or many of them, annoying, it’s also bad for your health and well-being.

So, what can you do to help yourself sleep like a baby?

  1. Avoid certain foods and drinks

Most people know it’s a good idea to stop drinking coffee fairly early in the day. Less well known is the fact that chocolate contains a large dose of caffeine. Cutting back on chocolate in the evening is definitely recommended!

On top of that, sugar also has an effect on your ability to sleep. While it may not stop you falling asleep, it has been linked to waking during the night, which obviously lowers your sleep quality, even if you don’t then struggle to get back to sleep. So, any kind of sugary snack late at night (or even during the evening) may negatively impact your sleep.

Alcohol is another less well-known offender. Many people believe its numbing qualities help them get to sleep. However, like sugar, it is a known culprit in causing less deep, restful sleep and more nighttime wakings. So, resist the temptation to have a glass of wine before bed!

2. Adjust your environment

Light

Some people like to be woken in the morning by sunshine, while others prefer sleeping in a truly dark room. While there is an element of preference here, it is also true that studies show true darkness leads to better sleep quality. This is defined not just in terms of sun streaming through your window, but also in terms of the many light sources that might be in a bedroom: bedside clock, light on an alarm system, light from a smoke detector, and so on.

If you have any trouble with sleep, consider getting blackout curtains or blinds, and minimising the electrical light sources in your room.

Temperature

Another element of the environment is temperature. While it can be lovely to feel snuggly and warm in bed, overall it is better to keep the bedroom itself cool. This doesn’t mean you have to give up on electric blankets, hot water bottles, or a nice, thick duvet and bunny slippers. Rather, make sure the room you are in is cool, even if you are toastie in bed.

Bed

What of your bed? Some people prefer a firm mattress, others something soft they can sink into. Make sure that you have enough space and support for your body, and comfort, too. Do you need a different kind of pillow?

Quiet

Noise can be another issue. While some people deal with a ticking clock without batting an eyelid, for others such a noise source can be annoying and lead to poor sleep. Figure out where your sweet spot lies, and make your environment match you, as much as possible.

If you have a partner who snores, consider ways to help them stop. Also, consider earplugs. Or hypnosis (which can help you to ignore their snoring, as well as helping them not to snore!)

3. Create a bedtime routine

Bedtime routines are definitely not just for children! Many studies have shown that getting to bed at around the same time every day has a positive effect on sleep. Having a clear routine helps achieve this. It is also a set way to wind down at the end of the day, creating an optimal state for actually falling asleep.

So, what could a bedtime routine look like?

Some people find it helpful to set an alarm in the evening, to kickstart them into their bedtime routine. Instead of getting glued to the sofa by tiredness, and staying up later than you intended, you are reminded to start getting ready and winding down.

Once you’re started on your bedtime routine, thing about how you would best like to string together your bedtime routine. Do you want to start by clearing up, so that you can start the following day fresh? Does a soothing self-care routine fit you better? What do you want to include in that? If there are some aspects that you don’t currently include in your pre-bed preparations, where does it make most sense to put them?

For example, if you want to moisturise more, it’s best to do that after your other washing/toothbrushing activity, so as not to wash it all off again.

Do you want to include some kind of sitting meditation or journalling practice into your nighttime routine? This can be linked with other aspects of your bedtime routing. Choose if you want to sit just before or just after brushing your teeth, for example. Linking an existing habit to a new habit you want to develop is a way of improving your chances of sticking to it.

4. Meditation for sleep

Mindfulness

Practising mindfulness is a wonderful part of a bedtime routine. In particualar, a body scan and relaxation is a quick and practical way to prepare both body and mind to enter into sleep. This is best done once you are already in bed, so that you can slide from that into sleep.

Some people like to have a sitting meditation to see off the day. A gratitude focused meditation can also be really lovely, looking over the things that happened during the day that made you smile.

The point here is that calming your body and mind help to prepare you for sleep, and are an excellent addition to any bedtime routine.

Hypnosis

There are many really good hypnotic meditations out there to choose from. Here are a couple osuggestions:

Mindifi is a favourite with many people: Deep Sleep and Relaxation Hypnosis- Cure Insomnia on the App Store. It offers in-app purchase of further audios, of which the ‘Go Back to Sleep’ one is highly recommended. I also adore the ‘Virtual Spa Mental Massage’ – not so much for sleeping, but just to relax really deeply. Which will then help with sleep, too.
There is also Surf City Apps Sleep Well Hypnosis on the App Store, which has more in-app modifications. For instance, you can have the audio repeat, or not have the ‘wake up’ play, or have music play after the audio: quite good options.

Tapping

Equally, you can use a tapping meditation to help lower your body’s stress levels and get greater clarity for your mind. It is also emotionally calming, helping to settle your feelings so that they don’t intrude on you getting to sleep, or on your dreams.

Any kind of tapping will again be beneficial. One especially nice idea is what I call the ‘Foggy (FOGI) to Clear’ tapping meditation. If you are feeling full of thoughts and emotions, it is like an emotional fog that clogs your brain and can make sleep seem an impossibility. To get clear, you can tap around naming things that you: a) Fo – forgive yourself for, b) G – feel grateful for (think, what made you smile today, even just a little?), c) I – intend – set an intention for tomorrow.

Another idea is to tap directly on feeling tired: ‘Even though I’m feeling so tired, and finding it hard to sleep…’ There are lots of places you can go from there. See what comes up for you, or try out this version:

The Bottom Line

While sleepless nights can leave you feeling exhausted and hopeless, there really is a lot you can do to help improve your sleep quality. Spend a bit of time thinking about what your sleep environment, bedtime habits and routine look like now. Then, consider what changes feel best to you.

Chain together new habits one at a time. For example, you could start by getting rid of light sources in your bedroom. Then, you could add in some kind of pre-sleep meditation practice. Later, you could try out setting an alarm to help you get started on bedtime. Baby steps will take you a long way…

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