Not getting enough will make you very cranky and isn’t good for your health.
Sleep, that is! 😉
Sleep plays a huge role in healthy brain function and overall emotional wellbeing much more than most people would think. By why and what can you do if you feel you don’t get enough sleep?
Firstly, what is the definition of getting enough? The common answer is approximately 7-8 hours a night for the average adult.
I have come across a number of people who say they function perfectly OK with a lot less (circa 5 hours or less each night), but after closer analysis it seems that aspects of their health and wellbeing certainly have suffered due to a continuous habit of averaging less than their body and mind actually need. It has formed into a habit that their body and mind are currently putting up with, rather than thriving on. For this to be tested, you do need to be honest with yourself! If you operate on 5 hours per night but actually you are quite snappy and cranky later in the afternoon, you rely on caffeine, you don’t feel alert in the afternoon, your skin tends to look a little sallow, you might suffer from high blood pressure and weight gain. If you answered yes to a chunk of these, are you OK on less than 7 hours in reality?
I have used a number of techniques to help Clients and indeed myself that certainly have helped. These aren’t full-proof as each individual is different, but give each one a go to see what you think. Here are a few of them:
- Your room temperature – ideally should be between about 19 degrees and 21 degrees. We often have bedrooms a lot hotter than this, but this can make you wake in the night.
- Sleep spray – This is a great little trick for training your system to think ‘bedtime’. You smell the spray which usually contains the calming scent of lavender and this triggers the habit of relaxing and preparing to sleep. I have found the best one is from brand ‘This Works’.
- Pillow and mattress comfort – Just double check that it’s not your old and saggy mattress or pillow that’s not causing the problem. Mattresses should be changed on an average of every 8-10 years. When’s the last time you changed yours?
- Screen time before bed – Mobile phones and i-pads have a ‘night-time’ mode for a reason. The light of the screen disturbs your melatonin production and can falsely keep you awake. Switch your phone to turn to night-time mode from about 10pm and try really hard not to look at your screen for at least 30 minutes before you are closing your eyes to sleep.
- Eating too near to bed-time – It is suggested that you should try to finish eating approximately 1.5 – 2 hours before going to bed. Your digestive system takes a lot of energy and effort to digest your meal and if vital energy is taken up with digestion as opposed to calming your brain at the end of the day, you will definitely not sleep as soundly.
- Consistency of setting your bedtime – bodies and brains like routine. If you try to set your bedtime for around the same time each evening, correct habit will be formed and your sleep will be improved. For example, try to start your bedtime routine from 10:30pm, be asleep by 11pm and set your alarm for 6:30am, every day, your system will thank you for it.
- Hydration (needing a wee in the night) – If you are constantly waking in the night for a wee this can really disturb your sleep pattern. Some medications cannot help with this but if there is no underlying reason that should be discussed with your doctor, you may just be drinking too much right at the end of the day.
- Relaxation techniques – If you are struggling to get to sleep, my favourite technique is to listen to an audio book (one that you know well) or a sleep specific hypnotherapy session. I find this a guaranteed way to drift off to sleep very quickly.
- Children disturbing your sleep – The only one I am struggling to find an answer for!!! If you have tiny little ones and they are waking up in the night and waking you up, from one parent to another I can tell you this. It is really rubbish at the time, but it will get better and you will get your sleep back! Just go to bed nice and early each evening and keep consistency of their and your bedtime.
I am currently conducting a 4-week study with my Clients in which I have asked them to note their sleep patterns in the first week. Depending on results, we will be adopting a number of the above techniques to see what is the most effective for each person and why. Part two of this blog coming up in a few weeks time to see what worked best and how they feel after 4 weeks.