When it comes to your health and wellbeing, getting a good night’s sleep is vital. Not only does proper sleep support your physical health by giving your body essential downtime to reset and restore, but sleep quality also affects your immune system, metabolism and brain function.
From students pulling all-nighters to new parents, many of us have experienced how poor sleep can have a negative impact on our mental health, causing an inability to concentrate, stress, anxiety and low mood.
How to get a good night's sleep
Of course, getting a good night’s sleep is sometimes easier said than done. The amount of information around sleep hygiene can be overwhelming, especially if you suffer from anxiety around bedtime already. We’ve compiled the most effective tips below, to help you achieve the best quality sleep you can.
Set your circadian rhythm by viewing sunlight
Your circadian rhythm is your body’s internal clock. ‘Set’ this clock by exposing your eyes to natural sunlight for at least 10 minutes when you wake up, and again around sunset.
For the same reason, you should avoid bright lights in the evening, opting for soft lamps in the living room and bedroom.
Set a caffeine cut off
Not only does your daily coffee wake you up in the morning, it could be keeping you up at night, too. Would you believe that half the amount of caffeine remains in your system up to 6 hours after drinking coffee? For this reason, sleep experts advise avoiding caffeine 12-14 hours before bedtime. If this isn’t manageable, aim for at least 10-12 hours.
Maintain a sleep routine
Set your alarm for the same time every day and avoid the snooze button (yes, this includes weekends!). If you spend the week looking forward to your Saturday lie-in, you can wake up and stay in bed (as long as you won’t fall back to sleep).
Aim to go to bed at the same time every night to ensure you’re getting enough sleep before your alarm, but go to bed earlier if you’re feeling naturally sleepy.
Use sleep hypnosis and yoga nidra
If you struggle to fall asleep or often wake up during the night, use tools like sleep hypnosis or yoga nidra to help you get back to sleep. There are plenty of free recordings of varying lengths available online, and these can be really helpful to relax your mind and body for sleep.
Try to avoid lying in bed wide awake for longer than 20 minutes. If a sleep hypnosis or yoga nidra audio isn’t helping, get up, leave the bedroom and do something else until you feel sleepy again. You can repeat this cycle as many times as you need before you fall asleep.
Keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet
In order to fall asleep, your body temperature needs to drop by 1-3 degrees. Although a warm room may feel cosy, this could be keeping you awake. Keep your room cool and layer blankets if you’re feeling chilly – these can then be removed as you warm up.
Avoid screen time before bed and keep any music to a low level.
Incorporate regular, gentle movement into your routine
Exercise is a great way to improve sleep quality. If you don’t already exercise regularly, try incorporating a walk every day. Getting outside can help to stabilise your circadian rhythms, and the exercise will help you drop off at night. You don’t need to exhaust yourself – any gentle movement like walking, yoga or Clinical Pilates will help.
Treat and avoid injuries
If you’re experiencing muscular or joint paint that’s keeping you awake at night, see a specialist: either consult your GP, or speak to an Osteopath or Physiotherapist, who can help you assess what’s wrong and provide you with a treatment plan to treat your condition and help to prevent it in the first place.
By introducing the tips above, you can build a solid sleep routine that will help you wake up feeling your best. If you’re still having trouble sleeping, this could be a symptom of an underlying health issue. Make an appointment with a licensed osteopath or physiotherapist at our Campden clinic, and they’ll help to identify any imbalances in your body that may be contributing to poor sleep. Remember, our clinicians will always refer you to your GP if you’re dealing with something that needs to be seen by a doctor.