Are you in need of a good night’s sleep?

There’s been so much of late in the media about sleep, scary statistics reporting that 90% of adults don’t get enough sleep, £40 billion (or the equivalent of 200,000 days)of productivity were lost last year due to sleep-related issues like absenteeism, poor performance and accidents, and 25% adults struggle with Sunday night insomnia.

With information like that, it’s easy to appreciate why sleep causes so much concern. Modern life requires many of us to regularly work from morning till night due to us having so many demands made of us. Family and work responsibilities, friends wanting a catch-up, plus a desperate desire for a little personal time can mean that every minute is accounted for. It’s no wonder that our minds are racing as we eventually collapse into bed, craving a good night’s sleep.

Often though we may be restless, find it difficult to fall asleep or awaken during the night, wide awake and unable to drift back to sleep after only a few fitful hours. Let’s look at how even busy people can renegotiate their lives and find ways to support a deep, refreshing night’s sleep.

 Being able to prioritise is a valuable skill in a busy life.

Not everything is equally important and some tasks can be broken down into bite-sized chunks, where you work on one section, pass it on to someone else for their input and are able to divert your attention to something else. Poor sleep often occurs when we’re preoccupied, stressed or overtired. Prioritising allows for better control, introduces some order and allows us to maximise the use of our time.
Lists can help introduce order and a sense of pride as each task gets ticked upon completion.

 Get to know yourself and your personal warning signs of becoming stressed and overtired.

I call them ‘amber lights’, the time when your mood changes and irritability, loss of sense of humour,
poor concentration, feeling vaguely unwell start to occur. There are a documented 360 physical symptoms of stress, one for each day of the year! When you recognise the negative changes in your demeanour you can schedule effective ways to take better care of yourself, have a break and reduce the buildup of stress.

Introduce better balance in your life.

Poor sleep can occur when you’re tired mentally but not physically, or vice versa. Some jobs require mainly mental effort, where you perhaps spend a lot of time indoors attending meetings or huddled over a computer. Try to schedule breaks for physical activity as well as time outdoors in the fresh air. Eat lunch in the park, start gardening, enjoy walking on the beach or in the countryside with friends or family, play a sport. Conversely, a physically taxing job could be balanced through mental exertion like reading, puzzles and interesting, thought-provoking conversations.

 Treat the time before bed as important.

Wind down for an hour or two before bed. Turn off your computer and phone, arrange any stressful conversations for another time, avoid horror films and heavy meals late at night. Enjoy a walk or yoga practice, consider hypnotherapy, have a lovely bath to wash away the day’s stresses and concerns, use those lovely scented candles you’ve been saving for a special occasion.

Make your bedroom an oasis of calm, relaxation and personal space.

If there’s a work-related area be sure to screen it off; avoid having your mobile phone or TV too close to the bed. Keep your bedroom free from clutter. Choose lovely, soothing colours, textures and fragrances and ensure it’s a pleasant, well-ventilated, relaxing room. For some people, black-out blinds help them sleep, especially if they work shifts or are a light sleeper.

Your bed is important.

It’s worth spending money on a comfortable bed, pillows, bedding. You spend a reasonable amount of time in bed so consider the money as an investment in yourself and your health. If you have a restless partner or someone who keeps different hours to you, might it be worth investing in separate beds to minimise disturbances and ensure a better night’s sleep? For some people, separate bedrooms provide a welcome relief from a snoring, restless partner, and ensure that date nights are extra special! Use whatever works best for you and your life.

 Little touches can make a difference to your quality of sleep.

Add lavender to the final rinse cycle of your sheets. Listen to relaxing music. Remember there are only two things that ‘should’ be happening in your bedroom! So resist the temptation to take food, work, knitting to bed. Allow your mind to calm and still, ready for a good night’s sleep.

Then you’ll find the overall quality of your sleep and your life improves.


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