Due to the current global pandemic we're all experiencing, many are finding their sleeping patterns are all over the place. Mix in the amount of uncertainty everyone is feeling and you've got elevated levels of anxiety. So, it's important, now more than ever to look after ourselves and get the rest our bodies need each night.
To help you take care of yourselves, we've put together our top 10 sleeping habits that will help calm and ease your worries before resting your head on a pillow.
1. Try to sleep and wake at consistent times
Your body has an internal clock and hormones that control sleepiness and wakefulness. Being consistent with your sleep and waking times can help this clock work best, and therefore improve the quality of your sleep. It’s a good idea to choose a bedtime which allows you to get the required 7-9 hours of sleep, and make sure you stick with it every night.
Set a daily alarm to remind you of the time you should be in bed so you can keep track of you bedtime.
2. Relax for an hour before going to bed
Switching both the television and your phone off at least an hour before bed can help to reduce your stress levels and sleep better. During this time take a warm shower to help your body relax and get a full night's sleep, the drop in body temperature helps you feel sleepy. A warm shower at night aids sleep, and a cold shower in the morning helps you feel awake, improving our immune and nervous system.
3. Reduce irregular or long daytime naps
Although most of us are at home all day, we must continue to stick to our normal sleep routine. Every time you feel sleepy or tired, get some sunlight and go for a quick walk instead of an afternoon nap. This will boost your energy and ensures you don’t doze off. Place reminders on your phone to move your body or use a fitness tracker to ensure you’re reaching your daily steps and aren’t glued to your couch. That way it helps you stick to your bedtime routine too.
4. Optimize your bedroom environment
It's important to train your brain to link your bed with sleep. Many people use their bedroom as a living room, somewhere to work/study from, a place to read a book etc. Doing these activities in your room can make it harder for you to fall asleep at night because you see your bedroom as a place of movement and not a place of rest. It is also important to create an environment which promotes sleep. Altering factors such as temperature, noise, external lights and furniture arrangements can also improve your quality of sleep. Making your bed and dimming the lights makes it more desirable to get into.
5. Work through a guided meditation before bed
There is an infinite amount of guided meditations accessible for you to work through when you’re feeling stressed. Take a few minutes to yourself each night to sit in silence, practice breathing techniques and relax your mind. Do anything that makes you relaxed; light a candle, listen to relaxing music. This is a time to let go of any thoughts or worries you have before bed.
Some of our favs: Bloom App, Smiling Mind App, Calm App
6.Reduce your caffeine intake
Anything with caffeine in it will drug your central nervous system and promotes alertness, increasing your blood pressure and brain energy, which will have a negative impact on your sleep patterns and ability to feel drowsy in the evenings. Like most stimulants, the more you have, the more your body builds up a tolerance to it, so try limiting yourself to one or two cups of caffeine a day, and preferably before 2pm.
7. Pamper yourself before bed
Take the time to make your skin glow with your favourite skin and beauty products. Indulge yourself with a bath, face mask and glass (or two, not the whole bottle!) of wine to help you feel amazing, and allow you to focus your thoughts on how relaxed you’re feeling. This will induce the drowsy feeling you get before falling asleep.
8. Fit some form of exercise into your day
Being at home means we expend less energy than we normally would in a work day. Taking part in some form of exercise whether it be an at home cardio workout, a short walk or household chores that gets you moving, such as vacuuming, will help immensely when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, and our health in general. People who engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise will see a difference in sleep quality during the night. Try doing exercise earlier in the day, or at least 3 hours before bed, so that your body and muscles have had enough time to relax.
9. Practice the 4-7-8 breathing method
The “4-7-8” method is a simple but powerful breathing method that promotes calmness and relaxation. It might also help you unwind before bed. It consists of a breathing pattern that relaxes the nervous system and can be practiced anytime you feel anxious or stressed.
Here are the steps:
1. First, place the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth.
2. Exhale completely through your mouth and make a whoosh sound.
3. Close your mouth and inhale through your nose while mentally counting to four.
4. Hold your breath and mentally count to seven.
5 Open your mouth and exhale completely, making a whoosh sound and mentally counting to eight.
6. Repeat this cycle at least three more times.
This technique can relax you and help you fall asleep quicker
10. Use light to your advantage
Natural sunlight and bright light is the key to keeping your internal clock on a healthy sleep-wake cycle. Make an effort to open up all the blinds around your house at the beginning of the day to let in as much sunlight as possible! Take a break from work or study at mid-day and sit outside for half an hour to soak up some warming sun rays. It is proven that 2 hours of bright light exposure during the day can increase sleep efficiency by 80%, and can improve your overall energy levels.