Lets talk about sleep, according to research 30% of us are not getting enough of it (NHS,2011).
The amount of sleep that we actually need varies at different stages in our lives, it’s has been well documented though that the average 19-55 year old needs around 8 hours of sleep.
I would say on average I get about 7 hours of quality sleep.
Though I wouldn’t consider myself sleep deprived I can sometimes have trouble settling myself for sleep. I think it stems from having trouble switching off in the evening. My mind can be constantly working overtime. Sometimes it’s busy making to do lists for the next day, or it’s mulling over blog post ideas or worrying about my uni work. Other times I’ve just overstimulated my brain watching an exciting film just before going to bed, whoops!
In the interest of trying to settle myself earlier for sleep I have begun experimenting with a few different techniques and rituals. Some of these have worked better than others.
I thought I would share with you the top 5 sleep techniques and rituals that have worked for me.
1. Switching to decaf drinks after 7pm – I’ve tried going totally caffeine free throughout the day but failed. I love tea and I love coffee! I’ve tried missing my pre bedtime cup of tea but find I actually lay awake missing it.
A tea in bed is part of my wind down ritual. Instead I have chosen to compromise by switching my drinks to caffeine free in the run up to bed time, this has worked well for me.
2. Pre bedtime rituals – If you are a parent you will understand the importance of a bedtime routine when it comes to settling your little ones. So it stands to reason then that as adults any set bedtime ritual will aid a better nights sleep.
A repeated bedtime routine acts as a trigger signaling the brain that it’s time to switch off for sleep.
For me this means carrying out my evening skincare routine, popping some lavander spray on my pillow and using my De-Stress blend hand cream from Nip & Fab.
If I’ve had a particurly busy day and I need a helping hand to wind down then I like to take a bath. Currently I am using Kneipp Sweet Dreams Herbal Bath Oil
3. Keep a notebook and pen by the bed – Do you ever find yourself lying awake thinking about everything you have to get done the next day? There’s that little voice banging on inside your head telling what you mustn’t forget.
If you have a notebook and pen to hand you can quickly jot down whatever it is playing on your mind. As I have written it down I know I’m not going to forget and feel far more relaxed for sleep.
4. Hide that smart phone – I’m sooo bad at looking at my IPhone in bed. As I use it as my alarm clock it’s in the room with me providing temptation to check that twitter or Instagram notification that has just popped up. Late night scrolling in bed of smart phones, tablets or computer screens are huge contributors to suffering from delayed sleep.
Recent studies have shown how the bluish light emited from such screens convince the brain that it is actually daytime and not time for sleep. (The Telegraph, 2015)
I am actively trying to avoid looking at my phone before bedtime. This has meant finding alternative activities that busy my hands such as knitting, or most recently I have invested in an adult colouring book.
The phone has moved to my dressing table rather than my nightstand. It’s still in use as an alarm but as it’s out of reach I’m not tempted to look at it.
The length of time it takes me to fall asleep has dropped significantly.
5. Think about comfort – Is your bed uncomfortable and responsible for keeping you awake?
We invested in a new mattress and since then my quality of sleep has improved greatly. I have been suffering from a long term back condition and used to wake up aching and sometimes feeling worse than before I actually went to bed.
Thankfully our memory foam mattress provides great support for my dodgy back and those aches and pains are far less of a common occurance.
In my opinion Investing in a comfortable bed is a necessary expense if you want a good nights sleep.
Do you have any set bedtime rituals? How much sleep do you manage each night?