I think this is what a lot of people expect to hear when they come in to see a Hypnotherapist, but even though I am a Hypnotherapist, this isn’t about hypnotherapy, this is about sleep.
For some of us sleep can be elusive at times and there are some tried and tested ways of encouraging good sleep, I will share with you.
Why is Sleep So Important?
We spend a third of our lives asleep this is to allow our energy stores to replenish and our brains to organise and store the memories and information from the day just gone. The hormone melatonin is produced by your body’s pineal gland (pih-nee-uhl). This gland is inactive during the day and is activated when it starts to get dark. It is thought that the melatonin it produces can help protect us from heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, migraines and headaches.
Why is What We Do Before We Go to Bed a Factor?
Your pre-sleep night time routine is so important when it comes to sleep as you need to give your brain the best chance possible to go from active and stimulated to slowing down.
Most of us know that having caffeinated drinks in the evening isn’t the best way to ensure a good night’s sleep, yet some still have a coffee after dinner and then wonder why drifting off is challenging.
Caffeine is a stimulant so, if we have to fight against its effects on our body to sleep, we’re making life a lot harder than it needs to be. I suggest no caffeine after 4pm, but everybody is different. Try experimenting yourself to see what works best for you.
Another strategy that can help is not eating a few hours before bed. If your body is busy digesting your food, it can disturb your sleep. Though it’s also important not to go to bed hungry, as a grumbling belly can also disrupt your sleep. If you must eat, eat sensible things -bananas, whole grains, eggs and berries as these can be broken down fairly quickly and easily by your digestive system and some of them are a good source of sleep promoting minerals, for example magnesium in bananas.
Limit Technology Exposure
A lot of us spend our day to day lives immersed in social media and technology, responding to emails, taking calls, checking out what your neighbour had for their lunch… When it comes to your bed time routine, you may find that your mind finds it easier to switch off and relax if you limit these things in the run up to bed time. Perhaps starting with switching off devices half an hour before bed and seeing if that’s sufficient. Really the key is to limit artificial stimulation before sleep. If you like to be occupied, try reading a book or listening to relaxing music.
Using relaxation and sleep promoting herbs and essences like lavender and chamomile can also help ready your body and mind for sleep. Perhaps try an oil burner to diffuse a relaxing essential oil in the bedroom. Use creams and oils on your body that support your sleep. Try Neals Yard body lotion called ‘Beauty Sleep’ that aims to do just that. Elemental Herbology’s ‘Soothe’ bath and body oil is another beautiful one. Which brings us to having a warm bath…
For some people (me included) there is nothing more soothing and relaxing than having a hot bath. But for some, this just isn’t how their body works. Try it. For some, the hot water of a shower before bed works wonders, and for others it’s too stimulating.
Personally, I have found I get the best night’s sleep if I haven’t consumed any alcohol, have eaten well, earlier in the evening, have a hot bath, drink a cup of my favourite herbal tea (Sleep Easy by Clipper, if you’re interested) and then read a little in bed before drifting off. I also switch my phone to airplane mode and try to stay off it for as long as I can before bed as this improves the quality of my sleep no end.
All the suggestions I give here are tools to try if you need to hit your “Sleep Reset” button. We are all unique and you can find your ideal routine to get the best night’s sleep possible, if you take the time work out what it is. Experiment, and experiment some more until you find it.
And if you are really struggling to sleep on an ongoing basis you may want to think about some outside help. Try Hypnotherapy or Acupuncture.
Sometimes our minds have become so used to the idea of not sleeping well, it becomes almost a habit and we need a little ‘system reset’. There also may be other things in life that are causing you stress or anxiety which can certainly affect sleep. Get in touch if you would like to know more about this.
See what works for you, we would love to hear any other ideas you have for great sleep.
Use this sleep diary to record your progress as you try different techniques or browse the Sleep Councils website for more information.