Get a good night’s sleep
In this challenge you are going to:
- Plan some changes to make your sleep preparation better
- Plan some useful additions to your sleep routine
- Learn to measure your sleep and record how it was
- Design your own sleep routine
Plan some changes
Do you do any of these things before bed?
Read email/social media
Research shows that reading emails or social media posts can stimulate your mind and wake you up.
Look at lit screens
Light is a stimulant, put that together with the sounds and flashing images of TV and there is a lot to keep you awake. Try putting your phone on to aeroplane mode before bed
Exercise (right before bed)
Exercise acts as a brain stimulant, especially if it is high intensity. It also causes your muscles to tense.
Eat Big Meals
Foods that are high in fat or complex carbs take a while to digest, whilst they are being digested it’s more difficult for your body to relax.
Eat Spicy foods
Spicy foods are great for boosting metabolism, but they can also cause indigestion and heartburn which can make it harder to get to sleep.
Love an evening chocolate fix? Chocolate contains caffeine, and that can keep your mind awake.
Did you know that caffeine can stay active in your body for up to 8 hours after you drink it? Tea and coffee both contain caffeine so switch to decaf mid afternoon.
A few beers in the evening has been shown to disturb sleep and it could well keeping you getting up for the loo.
Sugary treats can be a menace to sleep, once the sugar has left your system, your body can wake you up craving more.
Plan some healthy additions to help you sleep
How about trying one (or more) of these before bed tonight?
Have a warm bath
The heat combined with the addition of some bubbles can help your muscles to relax and your mind to calm before bed.
Have a cup of chamomile tea
Chamomile tea contains compounds that help to relax the body and calm the mind. It’s a great swap for regular tea or coffee before bed.
Read a good book or a kindle (other e-readers are available)
Reading is a great way to prepare your mind for sleep, Kindles and other e-readers use e-ink technology which is not as stimulating as back-lit screens, making them a good option for evening reading.
Kick pets out
You might feel sorry for Rover sleeping downstairs on his own, but dogs and cats can contribute significantly to night time disturbances.
Exercise earlier in the evening
Exercise can increase ‘happy hormones’ in the body, leading to a feeling of satisfaction and aiding sleep.
Plan tomorrow’s task list before bed
Get your task list for tomorrow in order half an hour before you go to bed, that way you’ll feel like you are ready to face tomorrow when it comes
Write tasks in a journal
Worrying about things you need to get done tomorrow, or suddenly remembering something you were supposed to deal with today, are common causes of disturbed sleep. Keep a pad or journal next to the bed and make a note of anything that’s worrying you.
Lower the lights
Keep the lighting in the bedroom soft, go for dimmer switches or lamps that can be adjusted. Brights lights block your brain’s production of melatonin which promotes calm in the mind and body.
Shut the curtains tight
Cut out lights, just making the room darker can help you achieve better sleep
Eat sleep promoting foods
If you are having a snack before bed, or a late evening meal why not try some of these foods that contain tryptophan or melatonin, chemicals that promote good sleep.
Do some breathing exercises
An essential part of any yoga practice are the breathing exercises known as Pranayama. They help regulate the breath and heart rate, helping to calm and relax the body and mind before sleep.
Distract yourself with something boring
Counting sheep might sound like something mad people do, but focusing on something boring that distracts your mind from it’s worries can be really helpful when you’re going to sleep, we reckon counting backwards from 300 is even more dull and even more effective.
Measure Your Sleep
Why not try one of these to understand your sleep patterns?
The easiest way is just to keep a written (or typed) record of how you slept following the changes you made. Just answer the question ‘did I sleep well?’ and note any particular problems (waking up, struggling to fall asleep etc.)
There are a number of great smartphone apps that can help you to measure all sorts of sleep related things, we reckon the best ones are:
Now plan your own sleep ritual
A consistent routine will help you to start sleeping better, and feeling more refreshed in the morning.