“Due to unfortunate circumstances, I am awake”: A Guide to switching off at night
If you struggle to fall or to stay asleep you can start to dread the prospect of going to bed. Most of us have had periods in our life where our sleep is affected by what is going on in our lives. We can have had all day to worry or stress but the distraction of our daily lives means that it is when we finally lie down to sleep that these worries suddenly surface. Sound familiar? You’re not alone, and many of us feel the consequences of poor sleep on both our physical and mental health. Getting a good night’s sleep is as important as eating healthily and exercising regularly. There is a lot of information out there on encouraging sleep but in typical OutdoorCure style we are going to (sleep)walk you through some of the less obvious ones.
The OutdoorCureOnline Mighty Seven on Sleep Hygiene:
1. Don’t label yourself as a poor sleeper/bad sleeper/insomniac/early riser. We all do it but what we are doing is feeding the problem. If you catch yourself saying this, either to yourself or to others, take steps to break the habit. The shift won’t happen immediately but if you start to think differently you are helping yourself to shift your thinking patterns and rewrite your nights.
2. Exercise regularly but not before bed. Exercise is, of course, key for a good night’s sleep but doing it too late in the day can have a stimulatory affect, increasing our alertness and hormones such as adrenaline.
3. Cut out the late-night snacking. Don’t make relaxing with food part of your evening’s sleep routine. It can negatively impact on both the quality of your sleep and the natural release of melatonin. If you are a late night snacker, experiment and move the time of your last snack. See if it has a positive effect on your sleep.
4. Try to sleep and wake at consistent times. Going to bed later at the weekends or lying in, for example, can affect your long-term sleep quality. Irregular sleep patterns can alter your circadian rhythm and your levels of melatonin which signal your brain to sleep.
5. Reduce blue light exposure. Ok ok most of us know this one but do you know why? Blue light, which electronic devices such as smartphones emit in large amounts, tricks your brain into thinking it is still daytime. As a consequence, all the very clever hormones which relax you and help you to get deep sleep are reduced. Implement a blue light curfew at least 2 hours before bed and you should notice a difference.
6. Dim the lights round your house a few hours before going to bed. Use lamps or candles if you don’t have a dimmer switch on your main light. Do this in every room you go into as an environmental prompt that it is time to start switching off now and winding down.
7. Create your own pre-sleep routine and try out different things. All too often we try something for a few nights and if it doesn’t work, we give up! Make sure you change things around, try new ideas and experiment. Share your top tips with us in the comments…
Let’s start a sleep revolution, close down a few of those tabs that our brain has open and get a better night’s sleep!