Here is a list of some simple but effective tips for getting a better night’s sleep.
Simple tips for better sleep
Do you crave better sleep?
A good night’s sleep.
How hard can it be?
Well very hard at times in my experience.
You know the feeling…
You just can’t get to sleep.
You toss and turn in bed as time ticks by, but still no sleep.
You wake up at somewhere between 3am and 4am and just can’t get back to sleep.
In fact, the only moment your body feels totally ready to sleep… is right before the alarm goes off.
It’s. Just. Not. Fair.
But here’s something I came to realise, finally, a few months back.
I DO know how to get a good night’s sleep.
BUT I am very capable of totally sabotaging it.
So these last few months, after being totally sick and tired (no pun…) of poor quality sleep and feeling increasingly dreadful through the week, I decided to get a little more mindful about my daytime habits to help lead me towards a better sleep each night.
The good news is, the change in the quality of my sleep and my ability to get to sleep came around pretty quickly after making some simple changes.
Of course, there are still times when stress or an over-packed diary take hold and things go a bit wonky, but in general, I now get more and better quality sleep than I have had since I was a carefree kiddo.
Plus, because in general, because I get a good night’s sleep, the times when the wheels do come off don’t impact me quite so badly.
Now I’m a few months in, I thought I’d share some of the simple tips I have for getting better sleep.
Simple tips for better sleep
1. Rise and fall at the same time every day.
In other words, create a sleep schedule for yourself.
In the same way that you did for your baby!
If you get up at the same time every day and go to bed at the same time every day – even at the weekend – you help regulate your body clock.
A nice, well regulated body clock will help you get to sleep and stay asleep.
The biggest change for me here, is making myself go to bed when I am utterly exhausted and sprawled out on the sofa.
It’s so easy to just not move.
To keep on watching the TV or worse, scrolling endlessly like a zombie – more on ditching digital later.
The thing that helped me the most was getting a FitBit -I’ve got a FitBit Charge 2 – because it notifies me when I need to start getting ready for bed each day.
2. Get some sunlight
Light helps manage and maintain your circadian rhythms.
Get some sunlight as soon as you get up, because daylight first thing resets your body clock and helps keep your circadian rhythms in order, even if you’re having a crazy busy few days.
3. Daily outdoor exercise
Get at least 20 minutes exercise outside every day.
Walking is fine, I’m not talking full on HIT sessions. Just make sure to do it daily and you will feel so much better.
Of course exercise in general is a great thing for ensuring your body is as tired as your mind by the end of a busy day.
Getting regular cardio exercise is good full stop for your general health.
But sometimes the challenge of fitting exercise in every day is just too much to contemplate.
So have a read of my post on building exercise into your daily life, even when you have no time,
It really is worth it.
4. Cut down on alcohol
Well, who’d have thought 😉
But yes, it’s something we have to be real about.
Alcohol can really mess with our body rhythms.
I’m not saying go teetotal.
I’m certainly not teetotal.
I have altered my drinking habits.
Week days I am either alcohol-free or I just have a small – and I mean small – glass of wine with my supper.
I find that having a good couple of hours between drinking alcohol and going to bed really helps.
Of course most of us will have experienced that thing where, oops, you drink too much and fall asleep, but I’m sure you’re aware this can also lead to a totally non-lovely 4am wake-up that it’s hard to get back to sleep from.
5. Ditch late caffeine
Whilst we’re on the subject of abstinence, it’s time to think about caffeine and the way it affects sleep.
I avoid drinking any form of caffeine after 4pm.
I’ve found it makes a MASSIVE difference.
6. Eat earlier
Now, I KNOW this can a difficult one.
Especially if you’re juggling a full-time job with everything else in your life.
Also if you’re juggling any combination of work / homemaking / parenting.
Plus there’s the added issue for those of us in relationships where our other half gets in at a different time to us.
So, the thing to do ideally is to eat earlier in the evening.
If you really can’t, then aim to eat a lighter meal in the evening.
The mantra ‘breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and in the evening dine like a pauper’, really is based on fact.
Heavy, hard to digest food will have your intestines doing somersaults through the night.
Not conducive to getting better sleep!
7. Go for a low GI diet
Following on from evening mealtimes…
I’ve found that a low GI diet really helps to keep my blood sugar levels balanced…
…and that balanced blood sugar levels really help with getting a good night’s sleep.
I’ve found myself spending a lot of time thinking about what I eat and how it relates to how I sleep.
8. Drink plenty of water during the day
Drink lots of water throughout the day, then tail off before bedtime.
That way you keep your body hydrated, but don’t find yourself needing to pee in the middle of the night.
9. Gentle yoga and relaxation before bed
Now I must confess this isn’t one I do often.
I tend to exercise in the morning or during the day.
But, if I’m feeling really stressed or restless before bed, I get out my iPad (the ONLY time I now reach for tech right before bed) and do a relaxing yoga routine. No more than 15 minutes.
My go-to app for the last few years is the Yoga Studio: Mind and Body app.
I talk more about this app in my building exercise into daily life post.
What I love about the relaxation classes on this app is the lovely, soothing voiceover.
10. Dim the lights
Dim the lights around you about an hour before you go to bed.
I’ve been doing this for the last few months.
At first my husband complained, but he quite likes it now too!
It’s actually super relaxing.
But the biggest benefit is that reducing the amount of light signals to your brain that sleep is coming.
It’s all about those circadian rhythms!
11. Ditch the digital
Dimming the lights brings me round nicely to ditching the digital tech.
DO I EVEN NEED TO TELL YOU ABOUT THE NEGATIVE AFFECTS OF TECH ON OUR SLEEP???
We all KNOW how bad it is to be scrolling right before our heads hit the pillow – and in some cases once your head has hit the pillow.
But getting out of the habit of doing it is quite another thing.
But I’m here to tell you…
DITCH YOUR IPAD / LAPTOP / CELL / MOBILE AT LEAST AN HOUR BEFORE BED AND THE CHANGE IN THE QUALITY OF YOUR SLEEP WILL BE IMMENSE.
The thing is, digital media and social media in particular, is addictive.
So, you will need to work to break the habit.
I’ve got a post on how to do a digital detox. Have a read and then go cold turkey.
It will be SO worth it.
The biggest thing I’ve found, other than I now get a much better quality of sleep, is that I don’t have that horrible, utterly soul destroying, fast paced brain-whirr when my head hits the pillow.
I’m still not the kind of person who is asleep the second my head hits the pillow, but I’m in so much more of a mellow place as I slowly process the day and drift off to sleep.
12. Banish digital tech completely
I’ve gone one step further than just not reaching for digital tech before bed.
I’ve stopped having it in our bedroom full stop.
I’ve got a lovely old school alarm clock, this Robert’s one one in fact…
The added benefit of not having any digital tech in the bedroom is that it is IMPOSSIBLE to reach for it whilst still in bed.
So I’ve completely cut out mindless early morning scrolling.
In fact, I now get up and exercise first thing.
Who knew that would ever happen?
13. Wind down
Give yourself 30 minutes to wind down before sleep each night.
My daily routine is to start getting ready for bed at 10pm each night.
Early I know, but I’ve slowly adapted to a husband who gets up at 5:30am each morning, now that we no longer live in London, around the corner from work.
NO, I don’t get up at 5:30am, I am not crazy, but having been a complete night owl, I honestly now love going to bed at a sensible time.
Getting ready for bed is part of my wind down routine.
Washing, moisturising, pottering, it all helps switch my body into nighttime mode.
If you are a two minutes in the bathroom type of person, then think about reaching for a book before you roll over to sleep.
Yes, that’s right, a book.
An actual paper book.
Well that’s it. I’m all out of tips.
But I can tell you hand on heart, that these are the simple things I’ve changed in my life to help me get a better night’s sleep.
They really do work.
Good luck with changing your daily habits towards getting better sleep each night.