One of mankind’s most frustrating battles: getting the right amount of sleep. Too little and you’re a zombie the next day, too much and you’re groggy. I’ve tried countless sleep-inducing tips and tricks over the years. I’ve discovered which ones work and which are old wives’ tales. Of course, the results vary from person to person, but some techniques have a very high success rate. So here are my personal recommendations for getting a good night’s sleep:
DURING THE DAY:
- It has been scientifically recognised that fresh air and natural daylight are vital for a stable sleep pattern. The minimum amount of time you should spend outdoors is about 15 minutes. Sunlight helps keep your body clock ticking and provides your body with essential vitamins. This tip is especially beneficial for elderly people.
- Don’t just sit outside and wait for the minimum recommended time. Combine being outdoors with engaging in some light exercise, and double the effectiveness of your efforts. This is common sense, really, because exercise tires you out and so aids healthy sleep.
- Try to avoid sitting or lying in bed during the day. Your mind and body needs to associate your bed with sleep, nothing else. If you want to lounge while you read, play games, or watch tv, it’s best if you do it on the sofa or an armchair, etc.
- Try not to eat after 9pm. You don’t want your body to be digesting and working hard while you’re trying to shut down for the night. Also some food and drink have a stimulating effect, so they will keep you awake (e.g. sugar, caffeine).
- Finish everything you have to do before you go to bed, and then put it out of your mind. Tell yourself that there’s nothing more you can get done tonight. Think of this: tomorrow doesn’t exist yet. Everything you’re stressing about for the next day is irrelevant. There is only tonight, and it’s time to sleep.
- A nice warm bath before you get into bed is very soothing. All your tired muscles will relax, many of your aches and pains will be eased, your mind will slow down and prepare for a restful night. To make your bath even more relaxing, try adding a few drops of lavender oil.
- Do you like herbal tea? There are many varieties of herbal tea, especially those designed to aid relaxation. Chamomile is a very popular calming tea. Try drinking it in the late evening so that you can begin winding down before you go to bed. DO NOT substitute a herbal tea for caffeinated tea or coffee at night, as this will have the opposite effect.
- Make sure your bedroom is tidy, since this will actually help relax your mind. Clutter and mess bring stress (an easy rhyme to remember).
- If your family member, partner, or spouse is willing, have them give you a relaxing massage just before you get in bed. Shoulders, back, feet, head – whatever makes you feel the most relaxed. Massage loosens the muscles, warms the blood, and aids healthy circulation (great for preventing muscle cramp).
- Some people find that wearing a warm pair of socks in bed helps them sleep. Try it out, see if it works for you.
- One of the best sleep aids I’ve ever used is pure lavender essential oil. Put one or two little drops on the edge of your pillow (if you don’t mind the smell of lavender, that is), and you’re almost guaranteed to have a peaceful night.
- We all have our preferred sleeping position. But if you can, try to sleep on your right side or on your back. Sleeping on your left side or your stomach puts a lot of pressure on your vital organs and can strain your heart.
- Complete darkness is preferable for sleeping. If you prefer sleeping with some kind of electric lighting, just try turning it off for one night and see how it goes. That’s why night is naturally dark – it’s ideal for sleeping.
- The old tip about counting sheep is actually quite helpful. But it doesn’t have to be sheep. Any monotonous, peaceful thought that you can keep in your mind will help. Don’t let emotional thoughts, memories, worries about the future, plans or ideas creep into your mind when you’re trying to sleep. Let your mind relax just like a muscle.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS:
Make sure you go to bed and wake up at around the same time each night and day. It is more beneficial for a person to get a few hours sleep at the same time every night, than for them to get lots of sleep at different times each night. Routine is essential. If you don’t like going to bed before midnight, then make sure you go to bed at midnight every night, as long as you wake up around the same time every morning. Find a pattern that suits you and stick to it.
I hope this guide can be of help to you. Before my illness became severe enough to stop me working, I used to work in health care. I’m very familiar with medicine, massage, aromatherapy, mental disorders, women’s health and alternative medicine. So I plan to write many more guides like this one in the future. If you’re interested in any of the health issues I mentioned, keep an eye on my blog for future articles.
Feedback, corrections, and suggestions are welcome.