I love sleep. I’m also blessed with being able to sleep almost anywhere. When I lived in the UK, on my morning commute, squeezed into the underground I could wedge myself into the corner and nap. As I age I find my passion for the night has diminished slightly, but I’m still resisting the call of the morning.
Why tell you this? I share this because sleep is important. For both physical and mental health.
If I didn’t catch those few extra zees on the tube I’d be cranky.
If I don’t get at least seven and a half hours I’m a zombie until noon. There’s a reason I’m happy to see clients after regular office hours are long over.
As a lover of all things sleep, it can be hard to switch of my brain after a busy day, and that mean falling asleep can be difficult. Knowing how much a good night’s rest helps me I have started using the following strategies to prevent me from being irritable, tired and lacking concentration the following day, they have also helped me regain a little physical well being.
I start calming myself ready for sleep four to six hours before bedtime. This can be tough on days when I’m working late, but I do this with a leisurely stroll with the dog about half an hour before sleep. This isn’t a fast-paced walk, I do that type of exercise walking earlier in the day.
Avoiding caffeinated drinks and alcohol also helps, as does staying away from screens. The blue lights of mobile devices messes with the circadian rhythms and melatonin production (the stuff that tells us it’s time to sleep), so if you must use your screen, try switching to ‘night mode’, I would however suggesting skipping for at least an hour before sleeping, why not set an alarm to remind yourself.
A bedtime routine can really help. Getting up and going to bed at the same time each day. Sleep experts suggest keeping bed for sleeping only, but as a sex therapist I find this one hard (pun intended) to endorse. After all, sex is a wonderful sleep aid, especially when you both reach fruition.
However, you can make your bedroom optimal for sleeping. Adjust the temperature to keep your body at a cool, but comfortable level. Sleep.org recommends a optimal sleeping temperature as between 15 and 19 degrees C (60 – 67 degrees F). Also, the body reacts better to a completely dark sleeping environment.
Get out of bed
If you can’t sleep, get up and do something. Use a dull light to write in a journal if you can’t sleep due to a racing mind can help to calm the mind. Resist the temptation to get your mobile device out. If you need a drink, stick to water and zero sugar drinks, such as chamomile tea or other sleep infusions.
Meditation can help calm the mind, which in turn helps you fall asleep. Practising meditation also helps reduce stress during the day. Mediation doesn’t have to look like a crossed-legged guru, but can be crocheting or knitting, reading or starring at a flickering candle flame.
If you’ve never meditated you might like to start with guided meditations. There are number of free apps available and plenty of paid apps.
Making sleep a priority is important. Try it tonight.