We’ve all been there. It’s been a crazy-busy exhausting work day, you’ve probably had one too many coffees and your afternoon was stressful because you were trying to power through your workload and reply to those client emails so that you can successfully rush out the door right on 5:30 to make it to your gym class. Now your home, had dinner, a shower (washed your hair and somehow found the energy to blow dry it!) and it’s time for bed. You deep exhale as you climb into bed, get comfy and close your eyes, a half hour passes and you’re still awake - your brain just won’t turn off! If this is you, take comfort in that you are one of 49% of people globally who have struggle to fall asleep at night.
Luckily, there are ways to keep a restless brain from destroying your sleep.
Here are the top 5 ways to avoid a bad night’s sleep:
1. Deep breathing exercises
Non-beneficial stress is a terrible waste. Not only does it decrease immune function, shorten your lifespan, and impair sexual performance, it can also destroy your sleep. Perhaps the most common reason people report not being able to sleep is that they don’t know how to clear their mind and stop worrying.
Deep breathing exercises like yoga and meditation can do wonders for helping your brain shut down, recuperate and prepare for another day of high performance.
2. Wind down with the sun
When the sun goes down, let that be your cue to begin to wind down as well. Of course, you don’t have to hit the sack immediately, but begin to quiet your body and mind. Calm your thoughts with some light reading (light as in fictional...that means no business or new age philosophy) or relaxing in front of the fire. Keep high-energy and mentally complex activities (including TV) for the daylight hours.
The goal is to separate your day from night-time to create a winding-down routine. For instance, taking a warm bath before bed every night lets your body know it’s time to relax.
3. Make your bedroom a room for rest
The bedroom isn’t your entertainment room, office or study. So that means turn off the TV, and the laptop. In the age of information and technology it’s easier now than ever to get distracted from sleep. So to be sure, remove any unnecessary items from your bedroom and make it a place for relaxation.
I bet you knew this one was coming. And yes, it’s a given now I think – but just to confirm regular physical activity is our best friend when it comes to getting a good night sleep. But make sure you exercise a few hours before bedtime, since physical activity can be stimulating.
5. Avoid Caffeine And Alcohol
Coffee, soft drinks, certain teas, and chocolate contain the stimulant caffeine, and its effects can take as long as 8 hours to wear off fully. Therefore, a cup of coffee in the late afternoon can make it hard for you to fall asleep at night.
Similarly, having a ‘nightcap’ (i.e. glass of red or other favourite alcoholic beverage) before sleep may help you relax, but will rob you of deep sleep. Heavy alcohol ingestion also may contribute to impairment in breathing at night.
I also use a sleep mask I used to hate the idea but started using it while travelling in Europe a few years ago (you know.. sunlight on planes and trains etc) and now I simply can’t live without it.
The biggest benefit I find with the sleep mask is not just that it helps me fall asleep, but that it helps me stay asleep. When I used to sleep without a sleep mask literally any little thing would wake me up - dog barking, cars outside and rain! You name it. But now I just seem to be able to fall into a deeper sleep. Not completely sure of the science behind it (if there is any) but it seems to work for me.
Getting a good night’s sleep is part of a staple life – living simply and having the ability to control your mind.
What’s your experience with trying to get some shut-eye at night?
Here are some suggested books relating to avoiding a bad nights sleep:
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