Getting good quality sleep should be achievable for everyone, but in the time of today with technology and stress, it can be incredibly difficult.
A good quality sleep can contribute to;
- Improving mood and reducing stress
- Improving Memory
- Improving concentration and productivity
- Improving immune function
- Controlling apetite
- Regulating weight
Having a poor sleep is also linked with increased inflammation, and can affect your emotions and social interactions.
Here are a few tips to help you get a solid, good quality sleep if you're experiencing insomnia.
Try A Breathing Exercise To Help Clear Your Mind And Drift Off To Sleep
If you struggle to get to sleep due to the fact that you are thinking about other things, this one is for you. This breathing exercise will not only take your mind off of your thoughts, it is also relaxing and hopefully throughout the exercise you will drift off to sleep.
Starting at your third eye (the point between the eyebrows), focus the attention of your breath here with the intention to relax and release tension after each breath.
Take a few breaths here, and once you feel relaxation of this part of your body move on to the throat, the centre of the chest, right shoulder, right elbow, right wrist, right thumb, index finger, middle finger, ring finger, little finger. Return to the right wrist and follow the points back to the centre of the chest.
Follow the same points down the left hand side of the body, again finishing with returning to the centre of the chest, the throat and the third eye.
Throughout the exercise, prevent your mind from wandering and only focus on the breath.
If needed, run through this exercise twice, and hopefully by the end you will be ready to sleep, or with some luck would have drifted off during the exercise.
Try To Stay Off Electronic Devices For Two Hours Before You Go To Sleep
Before bed, listen to how your body feels, and if you feel tired or not. Two hours prior to going to sleep, try to stay off electronic devices, such as phones, tablets and laptops as these emit blue light, and prevent the body from producing melatonin.
Melatonin is the natural hormone the body needs to release to promote sleep.
If you use your phone as an alarm, like me, two hours before you go to bed, set your alarm and put your phone on flight mode, or do not disturb to prevent any disturbance while you sleep.
Sip On Some Sleep Inducing Tea
Modern research supports that sipping on some herbal tea before bed encourages sleep.
Common Sleep Supporting Teas to try:
Chamomile - for many years, chamomile tea has been used for its calming effects in order to reduce anxiety, reduce inflammation and treat insomnia.
Valerian Root - Also known to reduce stress and anxiety as well as treat problems like insomnia, nervousness and headaches. Studies support that Valerian Root shortens the time taken to get to sleep, as well as lessens the amount of nighttime awakenings.
Lemon Balm - Studies have indicated that lemon balm may act as a sedative, and has been used for reducing stress, improving sleep and may decrease insomnia-related symptoms.
Passionflower - traditionally used to alleviate anxiety and to improve sleep quality.
Avoid Alcohol And Caffeine
This one is a given really. Caffeine is a stimulant and should be avoided/ stopped four to six hours before going to bed in order to get the best sleep quality for those who are struggling with quality sleep.
Alcohol should also be avoided for a number of reasons.. while people may think that alcohol helps them to go to sleep, the quality of the sleep you are having is greatly effected. Drinking alcohol blocks your REM sleep, which is considered the most restorative sleep, with less REM sleep, you are more likely to wake up feeling tired, and like you haven't slept much at all.
Alcohol also interrupts your circadian rhythm by changing the way we produce sleep chemicals in our brain, which helps us to fall asleep quick, but also wake up shortly after, making you wake up well before you are well rested.
Physical activity is known to encourage sleep quality, as well as sleep duration. Studies have also shown that exercise significantly helps those who suffer from chronic insomnia.
Exercise also supports a decrease in anxiety and depressive symptoms.
Outdoor exercise may also be especially helpful as your body absorbs sunlight during daytime hours, and helps to support circadian rhythm.