Life is stressful! Over the past year, the whole world has been fighting an unseen enemy. Restricting social contact, changing daily behavior, and working from home have taken their toll, so it isn’t surprising that good quality sleep has been disrupted. According to experts at The Guardian, a recent study showed that the lockdown caused a sharp increase in anxiety-related sleep problems; it rose from 1 in 6 to 1 in 4. If you are still suffering from a period of insomnia, what are some ways you can regain your peaceful slumber?
Creating a peaceful area to sleep will help us relax before sleeping. Soft colours and dark curtains will ensure that there isn’t too much light in our room that can disrupt our circadian rhythm.
If you have been working from home recently try not to use your bedroom as a workspace. If you associate your sleeping area with work, it’s likely it will be difficult to switch off. Keeping your bedroom tidy and free of clutter will help your mind.
Using duvets and covers that are cozy and warm will prevent your sleep from getting disrupted by changes in temperature. If you have been struggling because of anxiety, the benefits of weighted blankets have been shown to reduce anxiety and reduce insomnia. We have used them for many years, and there are various options of cover material and filling.
With device use at an all-time high, it’s challenging to separate ourselves from our phones and tablets. Instant access to information has made us feel we need to have our devices at our fingertips at all times. However, it is a good habit to remove technology before bed to allow our minds to wind down and mitigate the effects of the blue light. Blue light emitted from TVs and devices can block the release of melatonin, the hormone released at night that controls our sleep cycle.
Establishing a consistent nighttime routine will help the body and mind prepare for sleep. Try a warm bath with essential oils and candles or maybe a natural tea with calming herbs. Winding down will help your mind associate these practices with sleep, making it easier to drop off.
Reading before bed has been shown to reduce stress levels better than any other relaxation method because it quietens the thoughts rushing around our mind by focusing on characters in another world. The action of getting out of our introspective world can help muscles relax and reduce stress; a great pre-sleep activity!
Meditation and mindfulness
Meditation has become a bit of a ‘buzzword’ in recent years. But for good reason. Meditation trains you to control your mind and calm your body through the action of focused breathing. Learning how to belly breathe is proven to relax the entire body and is a great activity for promoting sleep. Like any new habit, it takes practice but is worthwhile. It may seem strange at first to notice your thoughts and try to control them as our brains are very good at going off on tangents. Learning how to observe your thoughts and gently guide them back to the action of breathing is a fantastic skill to master and can be utilized in any stressful situation.
Mindfulness is like meditation in that it requires focused thought control, but we can adopt mindfulness during any task and develop the ability to completely concentrate on an activity and actions. For example, if you go for a mindful walk, think about the feeling of placing one foot in front of another, the sound of the birds singing, the colours of the trees, and the wind in your face. By adopting mindful practices you become more relaxed helping you to sleep at night.
Nothing prevents sleeping more than unresolved arguments. If you have argued with your partner or family, it’s good practice to resolve it before attempting sleep. Negative emotions play havoc with our rest time and can keep us tossing and turning all night. Talking things out with your significant other, or calling a family member to apologize or smooth things over will ease your mind enabling you to relax. The old biblical saying to ‘never let the sun set with you in a provoked state’ still hold true. We never know what will happen one minute to the next. Life can change in the blink of an eye, so always ensure your loved ones know you love them before the night ends.
Sleeping is vital for optimum health and essential for mental wellbeing. Good quality sleep provides us with the energy to live the best life and prevent illness. Make sleep a priority by adopting good routines so you can sleep peacefully every night.