Ten Tips for Better Sleep

Sleep. We all do it, we all need it and yet it is one area many people struggle with night after night. Sleep is important for many reasons – it supports us in repairing cells and resting our bodies both physically and mentally. When you have the itches of eczema to contend with don’t underestimate the value of good sleep. Without it, we can feel tired, exhausted, stressed and as though we haven’t woken up “fresh”. We often feel as though the stresses of yesterday are still looming over us and we awake with anxiety rather than calm. So if you find yourself struggling to get to sleep, struggling to stay asleep or struggling to wake up then read below for ten tips to help get better sleep.

  1. No electronics at least 30 minutes before you want to sleep

With Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and Google at your fingertips, mobile devices have become sleep’s worst nightmare. But it isn’t only the time we spend on social media that makes the difference. The blue light of electronic devices and the mental activity of engaging in trowling the web also increases wakefulness and this will make it that little bit harder for you to fall asleep. Allow your body’s natural sleep sensitivity to light/ dark work by putting the electronics down before you get into bed. I often advise others to allocate a seperate time to catch up with social media and to avoid leaving it until bedtime.

2.  Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening

Most people are aware of the negative influence a stimulant such as caffeine can have on sleep, but alcohol is often seen as something which enduces sleep. Alcohol can initially help us to sleep, but it begins to metabolise halfway through our night leading us to rise early. This means you won’t get the number of hours you really need to allow your mind and body to rejuvenate. So keep away from both caffeine and alcohol in evenings, especially after 6pm.

3. Avoid napping in the day time

“An hour nap when I get in from work can’t be that bad can it”. A one off, probably not. But many clients I see for Hypnotherapy find that they nap almost daily because they aren’t sleeping at night. My advice? Don’t do it if you’re struggling to sleep. You disrupt your body’s natural sleep cycle and a nap can cause you to stay awake even longer when you try and sleep that night. Not only that, you may find yourself waking up earlier than you’d like. The best thing to do is to avoid completely. Tired? Then head to bed 30 minutes earlier. During a bad flare up Ifeel tired during the day, so I used to sleep for hours on end in the afternoon and all it did was keep me awake at night, this meant that I itched more as I tossed and turned. Trust me, the nap is not worth it!

4. Eat your last meal a minimum of 2 hours before you plan to sleep

When we eat food, our body works hard to digest for hours later. However, at night time we want the body to focus on reparing our cells and clearing our mind. Allow food to have some time to digest before you get yourself into bed. A snack may not have such a negative impact, but allow a few hours for meals to digest before heading to bed.

5.Set a bed time

This sounds a bit childish doesn’t it? But don’t overlook the importance of putting a bedtime into your routine. We often don’t see our recommended sleeping hours as important in comparison to the other demands life may present with such as sorting the bills, finishing that report for work or ironing for the morning. We often go to bed later, rather than prioritise sleep. So now is time to rethink this and begin to see your bed time as a priority. Need to get up at 7 and want 8 hours sleep? Make sure you are going to be able to switch the lights out for 11. Having a regular sleep/ waking time can help your body’s clock to adjust accordingly. This will make your sleeping hours regulate better and waking up will become easier when the alarm goes off and you’ve had a good amount of sleep. So sit down and really think about how many hours sleep you want and what time you need to get up. Make sure you are in bed for the time you set, practise makes perfect so ensure you follow this daily for at least a month. If you work shifts, then this may prove more difficult.I have tried this and it works! I wake up just before my alarm which makes the morning tha tlittle bit easier as I’ve woken up naturally.

6. Create a sleep routine

Many parents ensure their children have healthy night time routines, but how often do we do this as adults? Do you often find that are rushing around doing chores, getting work done and doing everything else you need to do before you even contemplating sleeping?  Wouldn’t it be nice if you had time to wind down rather than collapsing into bed at the end of the day still thinking about all the things you still have left to do. My advice? Make time – even 20 minutes – before you go to bed to wind down. To do lists can be never ending, so don’t prioritise completing the list over good quality sleep! Winding down can include any activity that helps you to relax. This could be a bath, it could be 10 minutes of yoga, the main thing is that it encourages you to put the day to an end and prepare for bed. Want to have 8 hours sleep? Give yourself 8.5 hours to include your wind down. The routine will help your body to adjust and prepare your mind to switch off. The last thing you want to do is to get into bed after rushing through a last minute report which is late as it’s all that will be on your mind, agititation isn’t going to help you sleep. Instead allow yourself a wind down. Make it something you enjoy so that you will prioritise! Reading is usually a no no for this list, but many people (including me!) find this helps. So find an activity which you want to do and makes you sleepy.

7. Practise Mindfulness Daily

If you struggle to mentally switch off when you get into bed, then mindfulness is something to consider. This can be as simple as a 3 minute breathing space or a body scan, but its primary aim is to be present in the moment, being in tune with your body at that point in time. This means that you have no time to worry about tomorrow or fret about what you did yesterday. This can really help those who overthink at bedtime! Here is a link for a variety of Free Mindfulness Exercises for you to try.

8. Go to bed thankful

Clients I see for therapy will know too well the importance I place on positive thinking and at bed time, this is even more important. You want to go to sleep in a positive frame of mind. Dwelling over the negatives isn’t going to help, so if Mindfulness isn’t for you, try to keep a gratitude diary. Every night before you go to sleep, list all that you are thankful for that day. It could be as simple as getting to work early because there was no traffic, maybe you got to spend some quality time with the kids, maybe you didn’t have to itch all day. List anything you are grateful for. The great thing about keeping it as a diary is that on days you struggle you can read through previous entries to remind yourself of all the good that you have going for you.On those days when eczema is getting you down, this will be of use trust me!

9. Wake up positive

Easier said than done when you feel tired and want to hit snooze. So to wake up positive here are a few ideas. Give them a go and see what works for you!

  • Give yourself 5 minutes in bed to think about what you want to achieve that day. Set yourself some goals. Not work goals, make goals that are personally meaningful. What’s important to you? Maybe you want to make sure that you have time that day to check in with a friend, maybe you want to spend an hour reading that evening, maybe you want to get to the gym at lunch. Make positive goals for yourself.Make these goals you are passionate about, after all setting a goal of the gym if its the last thing you want to do isn’t going to put you into that happy place!
  • Every morning, set aside 15 minutes to do something that you enjoy before you even have to think about the day ahead. Perhaps its having quiet time before the kids get up, maybe its time for that book you’ve been meaning to read, maybe its a brisk walk. Make it an activity that you enjoy and will want to get up for! If it isn’t this won’t really help.
  • Remind yourself of one thing you are looking forward to that day.
  • Plan to meet a friend before work. Having plans to look forward to can help get the day started positively
  • Still struggling? Try placing your alarm on the dresser across the room – it is a pain at first, but it has helped me to spring out of bed rather than snooze (and itch…!).

10. Listen to a sleep inducing audio when you are in bed

Sleep audios can support you in putting the day to one side, so if Mindfulness isn’t for you, if you are fidning it hard to wind down, try a relaxation audio before bed. There are so many to choose from so take your pick from YouTube. Find one that helps you to fall asleep and use it. Clients find my hypnotherapy audio helps them to fall asleep so much quicker and stay asleep during the night, so add this to your sleep routine like a ritual! Being able to fall asleep sooner is going to help you stay calm, not get frustrated and not itch, even more you won’t have time to worry if you are listening to an audio.

So there you have it, some of my tips to getting a better night’s sleep.These are some initial steps you can practise to begin to improve the sleep you are getting – a kind of starting point for you. The main thing is to find things that work for you, this list is not exhaustive and there are so many more things you could try, the important thing is to give things a go and make it work for you. If you don’t feel like you can get more than 7 hours sleep then don’t worry. The main thing is to then ensure that the 7 hours you do have is of good quality. Begin to prioritise your sleep and add positive things into your routine which you will look forward to. Personally, I give myself at least 30 minutes before I plan to sleep to get ready for bed, have a shower, read a book and practise yoga/ mindfulness dependent on my mood. On weeks I am more stressed, I may listen to my hypnotherapy audio to ensure I can switch off more easily and sleep through without waking. The key here is to try things and find what works for you. I know that for me, waking up is more difficult, so I place my alarm on my dresser across the room. Though at first this was a nuisance, getting up without snoozing gives me time for breakfast, time to sit before I begin my work day. It wasn’t until I began to wake up without snoozing that I truly appreciated this so always give things a try!

So what do you find difficult and what from the list could help you with that? Do you have any positive sleeping habits that you could share?

Comment below!

Still struggling after you’ve tried? Contact me at selina@restorehypnotherapy.com for some more tips.

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