One of the side effects of learning how to activate Rest in our lives is that we sleep better. But there is no simple answer to a complex requirement so this blog is a general discussion around sleep and I would love to know if any of these tips have ever been useful to you !
It is normal in life to have some seasons of late nights/ early mornings. Whether it’s a great party or a cheap flight to Australia you can feel tired but recover in a few days.
But sometimes our lifestyle can set us up for sleep problems.
e.g. If you are a busyholic or are adrenaline driven
1- there is a good chance your brain will find it hard to wind down to let you fall asleep easily
2- you will wake in the night with thoughts buzzing around in your brain,
and then your body will take time to slip back into your sleep cycle,
3- your alarm will go off just when you feel that at last you could sleep longer, and you will get up longing for that coffee pick-me-up.
There are hot tips for sleeping in many books and magazines, e.g. I found a great website http://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/how-to-sleep-better.htm
Or there is a comprehensive site with research articles for those in a 24/7 industry on www.shiftwork.co.nz
But here is a basic checklist that you may find useful.
1-Wind down before you lie down expecting to sleep.
With a bath, time of reading, listening to music, or practising relaxation
e.g. on my website www.rest.net.nz there is a free 13 minute relaxation.
2-Establish a routine so you go to bed, and get up at the same time every day.
3- Natural light during the day will stimulate the right chemicals in the sleep area of your brain that will kick in when it gets dark. So you may not want to wear sunglasses all day, remove them for a while when there is no glare around. If you work indoors, try and get out at lunchtime – this can be an important stress management strategy as well so you will think better and have more energy for the afternoon.
3-Some people will find significant exercise in the 4 hours before they go to bed will energise them and make it hard to sleep while others will not find it affects them at all.
4- But do get fit as then you will spend more of the night in the deeper part of your sleep cycle.
5- Avoid being overweight
6- Encourage your spouse to get fit and lose weight so they won’t snore as loudly
7-Make your bedroom as dark as possible, invest in curtain linings that block out the lights.
8- You get to know your own body when it comes to day time rests. Many people find a 20 minute power nap will energise them on a bad day, but have to avoid naps which go on longer than 30 minutes as they may affect your night sleep pattern.
9- I’ve heard some people say they can’t drink caffeine after 11a.m. others are ok until mid afternoon. Some people can drink it at night and say it makes no difference, but it is such an adrenaline boost that does amaze me.
10 – Don’t do your thinking in bed. Have a pen and paper handy to write down ideas or concerns so then you know they will be there in the morning for more rational consideration. Remember the song from the Phantom of the Opera:-
heightens each sensation
Darkness stirs and wakes imagination.’
An insightful acknowledgement of how our imaginations can stir up fear or unrealistic imaginings in the dark.
11- don’t forget to cover your clock so you don’t check it every half hour and tell yourself how bad it is and how tired you will be the next day. It will make the night even longer, so instead be determined to get as much rest as possible.
And what about those hot nights
-when there are no cool spots left on the sheet. I found an interesting website http://greatist.com/happiness/tricks-to-sleep-in-the-heat
Here are a few tips quoted from the website I thought I might try –
- Make a DIY air conditioner by positioning a shallow pan or bowl (a roasting pan works nicely) full of ice in front of a fan. The breeze will pick up cold water from the ice’s surface as it melts, creating a cooling mist.
- Hang out. Cool down a whole room by hanging a wet sheet in front of an open window. The breeze blowing in will quickly bring down the room’s temperature.
- Encourage cold feet. Those ten little piggies are pretty sensitive to temperature because there are lots of pulse points in the feet and ankles. Cool down the whole body by dunking feet in cold water before hitting the hay. Better yet, keep a bucket of water near the bed and dip feet whenever you’re feeling hot throughout the night.
And I do know how powerful our thinking is. Words are creative and have a life of their own – our subconscious remembers what we say and influences future attitudes and decisions. So here is a quote from the same website
”When a hot night is keeping you from getting good sleep, remember this: The mind has tremendous power over the body.
Our thoughts, attitudes and beliefs can affect our physical state, for better or worse. For example, by thinking cool or cold thoughts when you are hot, you can actually make yourself more comfortable. And, by contrast, by focusing on how hot you are when you are hot, you can actually make yourself more uncomfortable.
Skeptical? The next time you are struggling to sleep because of heat, say the following passage a few times to yourself.
“I’m so cold. The wind won’t stop blowing snow in my face. The freezing temperature leaves my hands, feet, arms, legs and face feeling like thick blocks of ice. I can see my breath so clearly. A burst of frigid wind just blew up under my jacket causing me to gasp in shock. Numbness.
The sky is thick with icy clouds and I feel no warm sunlight. I only feel unending, merciless bitter cold that seems determined to rob me of the little warmth that I have left in my body. I would give anything, anything at all, to be warm for just one minute. I’m so cold.
It may seem a bit out there but it may be worth a try on a hot muggy night- or else you could lie there and feel miserable about it all.