6 ways to have a better night sleep
While some of us relish snuggling into bed for a great night’s sleep, achieving this is easier said than done for many.
There are so many things that can negatively impact the quality of our sleep and likewise, lots of things can have a positive impact as well!
Things that harm our sleep include worry, boredom, distractions, poor lifestyle habits and inconsistent bed-time and waking times including working shift work. Sadly, these things impact so many of us!
So if you’re having a hard time sleeping well, try some of the tips below to see whether it makes a positive impact through your night.
Aim to keep the bedroom for sleep and intimate activity only
Avoid watching movies in bed if possible, and if you’re working from home, please try to keep the office out of the bedroom. We want to make the bedroom a place of relaxation and rest.
This doesn’t mean you need to spend an hour cross-legged on your bed before sleep but a consistent short relaxation routine before shut-eye can do wonders for our sleep.1
Look for Meditation and sleep apps for your phone and in particular, Yoga Nidra can help to relax our entire body. I am yet to make it to the end of a mediation before falling asleep no matter how stressed I am.
Write down your worries
Grab yourself a journal or gratitude diary to whisk away those worries before bed. It can be really helpful to get those concerns out of your head and onto paper if you’re someone who tends to analyse the day’s mishaps and occurrences while lying in bed.
Writing things down sends a signal to our brain that we are doing something about the issue, even if it’s just writing about it on paper.
Alternatively, writing down in a gratitude journal about what went well that day and trying to focus on those items can be particularly helpful to help ease our mind before sleep.2
It doesn’t have to be anything momentous, simply remembering that smile from a stranger or that delicious morning coffee are all great things to focus on before sleep takes us.
Try the 4-7-8 breath
I first heard of this simple breathing exercise from Dr Andrew Weil several years ago.
Doing this breathing technique daily has had a positive impact on my day (and my sleep!)3
Simply sit or lie down comfortably, close your eyes and breath in for the count of 4, hold for 7, then breath out to the count of 8. Repeat 4 times.
This can also be done in stressful situations or when you’re just needing some time-out.
Physical activity has been shown over and over to help get a good night’s sleep.4
Even if it’s just 20-30 minutes a day, you’re doing your sleep time a favour.
Think of some ways you can get even a short walk, dance session or some other movement you love into your day and it will mean a world of good for your sleep quality.
Even better if you can get some fresh air at the same time.
Avoid caffeine after 2pm
Caffeine is a stimulant can most definitely impact the quality of our sleep.5
Most health professionals recommend that we avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks etc) after 2:00 pm for a good night’s sleep.
Try to switch to decaf coffee or herbal teas in the afternoon or evening – but not too much! We don’t want to be getting up too often through the night to go to the toilet either!
When we eat well, we feel well, whatever that may look like for each of us as individuals.
Our diets do not need to be perfect but if we can eat in a way that makes us feel good, this will also have a positive effect on our sleep.6
Making sure we get enough of the nutrients we need to produce serotonin and reduce stress will also have a positive impact.
Good Green Vitality is my way to ‘tick all the boxes’ when it comes to getting what my body needs to feel good through the day, as well as the night.
I hope these suggestions help, as the Dalai Lama says: “Sleep is the best meditation”. Here’s to getting yours!
1 Rusch HL, Rosario M, Levison LM, et al. The effect of mindfulness meditation on sleep quality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2019;1445(1):5-16. doi:10.1111/nyas.13996
2. Wood AM, Joseph S, Lloyd J, Atkins S. Gratitude influences sleep through the mechanism of pre-sleep cognitions. J Psychosom Res. 2009 Jan;66(1):43-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2008.09.002. Epub 2008 Nov 22. PMID: 19073292.
3.Zaccaro A, Piarulli A, Laurino M, et al. How Breath-Control Can Change Your Life: A Systematic Review on Psycho-Physiological Correlates of Slow Breathing. Front Hum Neurosci. 2018;12:353. Published 2018 Sep 7. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2018.00353
4. Dolezal BA, Neufeld EV, Boland DM, Martin JL, Cooper CB. Interrelationship between Sleep and Exercise: A Systematic Review [published correction appears in Adv Prev Med. 2017;2017:5979510]. Adv Prev Med. 2017;2017:1364387. doi:10.1155/2017/1364387
5. Clark I, Landolt HP. Coffee, caffeine, and sleep: A systematic review of epidemiological studies and randomized controlled trials. Sleep Med Rev. 2017 Feb;31:70-78. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2016.01.006. Epub 2016 Jan 30. PMID: 26899133.
6. Binks H, E Vincent G, Gupta C, Irwin C, Khalesi S. Effects of Diet on Sleep: A Narrative Review. Nutrients. 2020;12(4):936. Published 2020 Mar 27. doi:10.3390/nu12040936
The information provided in this article is intended for educational purposes only and is general advice. It should not, nor is it intended to be, relied on as a substitute for individual medical advice or care. If the contents of this, or any other of the blogs in this series raises any concerns or questions regarding your health, please consult a qualified healthcare practitioner.