I recently wrote about how important sleep is for your immune system, long term health, mood, work performance and a whole host of other things. I also shared some tips on how to ensure a good night’s rest. In this post, I’ll share some additional tips for good sleep.
1. Know how much sleep you need
Most adults require between 7-9 hours of sleep a day, but some people require a little more or less. Babies, children and adolescents have different needs again. Personally, I need at least 8 hours, often more. The graphic below provides a guide for recommended, may be appropriate and not recommended amounts of sleep for various age groups. The key is that you feel well-rested when you wake up and throughout the day, with no desire to ‘catch up’ on sleep. For some this will be 7 hours, others 9.
2. Get some sun
The never-ending grey skies of a European winter don’t always make this one easy for me, but wherever you are in the world, whatever season, try to get out into the sunshine a little each day. It’ll let your body know it’s day time/awake time and help it differentiate this from night time/sleep time.
3. Exercise during the day
Regular exercise is, of course, great for your overall physical and mental health, and can help you feel tired at the end of the day, making sleep easier. However, strenuous exercise within the three hours before you want to sleep might make it harder to sleep because it will generally perk you up. You might have sore muscles too. So, try to do a morning workout or schedule your workouts in the early evening.
4. Watch what you eat and drink
Sugary, fatty, rich and high caffeine foods and drinks are all no-nos close to bedtime because they can provide a big energy hit, which is not what you want when it’s sleep time. Try to avoid having large meals close to bedtime too, if you eat early and need something to prevent feeling famished, then have a small snack. Yoghurt, oats, nuts, milk and bananas are some of the things that might be good for sleep. Drinking enough water and being hydrated will also help you head off to The Land of Nod.
5. If you can’t sleep, get up
Even if you have a perfect sleep routine, it happens to all of us, you get into bed and thirty minutes later you’re still awake. Frustration kicks in and the worry about not sleeping takes over. In this situation, the best thing to do is to get up and do something relaxing or distracting. Leave the bedroom, avoid screens and electronics, try to use lighting as low as possible and do something calming. Try not to think about the time. After a little while, head back to bed and try again.
6. Use relaxation techniques to wind down
Relaxation techniques can be really helpful as a part of a pre-bed wind-down or when you can’t sleep. Breathing exercises guided imagery or just listening to soothing sounds are some of the tools you can add to your sleep arsenal. You might want to discuss or learn these techniques as part of work with your therapist, or you can find information online. There are lots of apps with soothing music or guided meditations available too, though think about using them outside of the bedroom to keep in line with the bedroom=sleep and sex goal I identified in my last post.
So, there are a few more ideas to find your sleep Shangri-La. And after all this talk about sleep, I think I’ll go search some out. What tips for good sleep do you know? Share them in the comments below!