For many of us sleep is the last thing we think about in our busy lives. Our main concerns are often balancing the demands of a busy working life whilst looking after our homes, families and children. Occasionally we may fit in a few minutes for ourselves to go to the gym, sit in a cafe, read a book.
The times when we do manage to sleep well are often accompanied by a happier, calmer disposition where we find it easier to cope with life's stresses and strains. We all accept that it's important to sleep well.
Let's look at some ways to support good quality sleep:
- Try to organise your time so you can go to bed earlier. Many people don't get enough sleep but going to bed even 30 minutes earlier can make an enormous difference to how you feel. Many people work right up to bedtime then wonder why their minds are racing as they struggle to drift off to sleep.
- Use lists to itemize outstanding matters that need attention. Writing lists introduces regular discipline, keeps you organised, helps clear your mind and provides reassurance that important matters won't be forgotten overnight. Prioritize your list, accepting that it's a work-in-progress which can be added to, modified, rearranged as necessary.
- Wind down for two hours before bed if possible. Have a cut-off time and try to finish tasks allowing sufficient time to relax, eat healthily, enjoy a walk, chat with loved ones, listen to music, socialize. Avoid contentious discussions or scary films late at night. If necessary, plan them for another more appropriate time. Allow time to de-stress and unwind.
- Routine is an important habit for quality sleep. Our bodies become programmed to doing things at certain times. Try to ensure that late nights and long hours spent working are the exception rather than the rule. Take care to support good health and wellbeing, both mentally and physically.
- Don't forget the importance of dreaming. If we don't get enough of the right kind of sleep we can miss out on valuable dreaming time. Dreams allow us to process the events of the day, file them away, maybe come up with a different perspective, a better outcome. How often do you hear the phrase 'don't make a decision now, sleep on it'? That overnight time allows dreams to work through and resolve situations in our lives, but we have to allow sufficient time for it to happen naturally.
- Turn your bedroom into a calm haven. Keep it tidy and minimise clutter. Avoid using wi-fi and electrical gadgets if possible, especially near your bed. If you have to use your bedroom as an office consider installing screens so that work isn't constantly visible. Introduce relaxing colours, textures and fabrics through the use of cushions, curtains and rugs. Make it comfortable, cool and well-ventilated.
- Prepare to sleep well. Have a relaxing bath or shower. Physically freshen up but also mentally wash away the days' stresses and pressures. Add lavender to the rinse cycle of your bed linen. Use relaxation techniques to visit a calm, comfortable place; visualize a lovely place in nature and sleep well.
Being sleep-deprived or regularly having poor quality sleep can impact on every area of our lives. Concentration can suffer, we may become irritable, lose interest in things that we normally enjoy, even our health can be affected as our bodies become over tired and our immune systems become less resistant. It's important to appreciate the beneficial, health-supporting role that sleeping well has in our lives.