Have you ever laid awake at night, struggling to switch off your mind, wishing you could fall asleep faster? You can feel yourself getting more and more annoyed, the later it gets. You mentally count how many hours sleep you are going to get and worry about how tired you are going to feel tomorrow. Your partner gets in to bed and falls straight to sleep, and you wonder how they do it… Or perhaps you wake up every night and struggle to drift back off, wishing you slept better.
We have all been there, and whilst there are certain times when poor sleep is unavoidable, making good quality sleep a non-negotiable part of your health routine will help you to function better, physically and mentally, and help you to make better choices throughout the day.
A regular Yoga practice with a qualified instructor, will help to relieve some of the stress and tension that may be causing you to lay awake at night. A good teacher will teach you skills to relax and soothe yourself, which you can use to fall asleep faster and have better quality sleep.
Apart from rising and going to bed at the same time each day, (read previous blog post here), I always recommend my students to adopt a bedtime routine. We do it for our children to help them fall asleep faster and sleep better, so why not apply the same principles to ourselves.
Establishing and maintaining good sleep habits, helps you to fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and wake up feeling rested and refreshed. Increasing the quality and duration of your sleep, will have a tremendous effect on your physical, mental and emotional health.
When we sleep, the body goes into recovery mode; restoring, rebuilding and revitalising ready for the next day ahead. Sleep is necessary to maintain critical body functions, restore energy, repair muscle tissue and allow the brain to process new information. Sleepiness is what signals us to rest.
There are various different studies about how much sleep we should be getting, and the general consensus is that we should be aiming for 7-9 sleep a night, with some studies suggesting 5 x 90 minutes cycles (7.5 hours) being the optimal.
Regularly getting less than 5 hours sleep can:
- Decrease your sex drive
- Weaken the immune system
- Make you feel more stressed and irritable
- Put you at increased risk of heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes
- Cause anxiety and depression
- Cause you to gain weight
- Increase fine lines and wrinkles
- Increase your risk of Alzheimer’s or Dementia
- Shorten life expectancy
You may think that sleeping longer will help this, but studies have shown that sleeping too long (more than 9 hours) can have similar effects!
How to fall asleep faster and sleep better:
- Wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day – consistency and routine is key
- Avoid using your mobile phone before bed, keep it in a separate room if possible
- Consider a wind down period before bed of 30-60 minutes to journal/read/prepare for next day
- Create complete darkness
- Lower the room temperature
- Consider removing all gadgets and electronics as the lights on them can disrupt sleep
- Diffuse lavender oil
- Drink chamomile tea
- Use a magnesium oil spray before bed
- Avoid daytime naps and caffeine
- Practice Yoga and Meditation regularly
- Use Equal breath to relax yourself
It may take some time to get used to your new routine, but stay disciplined and you will soon be falling asleep faster, sleeping better and waking feeling refreshed, energised and ready to face your day.