Do you find it hard to relax at the end of a long day? Are you one of those people that tosses and turns all night long, worrying and stressing over situations in your life? If so, then you’d be well aware that this can lead to poor sleep patterns.
I’m pretty sure that we’ve all experienced the following at some stage in our lives. You wake up tired and in your half-slumbered state, you feel your way out to the kitchen and reach for a caffeine “pick me up”. Half asleep, you down that cuppa, wishing that the night before contained more hours, giving you extra time to enjoy the comfort of your bed.
The following 7 tips will help you relax before you go to bed, so you naturally sleep restfully and start each and every day at your fullest potential.
Program proper sleep with a routine
Develop a set pre-sleep schedule of activities. Let your brain know it is time to shut down. This means limiting stressful thoughts and outward influences before bedtime. This is how you “wind down” before you hit the hay. You could do this by consistently reading for 1 hour before bedtime (unless it’s one of those types of books that you get totally engrossed in, the hour might stretch out to 2..3) When you get into a habit of doing this, your brain will eventually recognize that 60 minutes of reading in the evening is a signal that sleep is approaching.
Develop a set bedtime
Most people live a very regular existence. They go to work at the same time, eat lunch and dinner about the same time, and have several consistent daily routines. When you go to bed and awaken at the same time consistently, you program your internal clock to shut down your busy brain and wake up on a given schedule. This relaxes you by putting your sleep pattern on autopilot, instead of you anxiously trying to force yourself to sleep.
Exercise a couple of hours before hitting the bed
Exercise and other forms of physical exertion immediately deliver a boost of energy. Soon after, your body tells you that you need rest and recuperation. If time permits, exercising in the evening, 2 to 3 hours before you go to bed, signals your brain for rest and recovery, rather than a stressful “how will I go to sleep” mentality.
Start counting sheep
… seriously! There’s a good reason the sheep counting strategy works to help you go to sleep. Not only can it bore you to sleep, what you are actually doing is replacing stressful and worrisome thoughts with a simple, repetitive mental exercise.
If sheep counting isn’t for you, the same thing can be accomplished by thinking of objects or foods whose names start with each letter of the alphabet. Your brain only focuses on one thing at a time, in this instance a simple mental exercise instead of stress and anxiety.
Enjoy a daily moment of gratitude
Right before you crawl into bed, think about all the reasons you have to be grateful. It is hard to be anxious and stressed out when you realise you have so many things to be thankful for. Doing this right before bed implants positive thoughts on your nighttime brain.
Mindful meditation focuses on the present moment. You concentrate on your breathing and your present state of existence. This allows no room for focusing on past problems or future issues which have yet to arrive. Lifelong practitioners of meditation can even slow down their heart rate and fall to sleep quickly, enjoying a healthy night’s rest.
Free your bedroom of distractions
Ideally, the place where you sleep should have minimal possessions. Get rid of the TV, turn your phone off and make sure there are
no bills laying around. I had a bad habit of grabbing the mail each day and putting it on my bedside table so I could read it later. Big mistake! I’d go to bed later that evening and those dreaded things would be the last things I’d see. The fewer pieces of furniture in your bedroom the better. As you are preparing for bed, your mind unconsciously takes in all of the distractions and objects in your environment.
I hope that these tips have helped you. Do you have particular routines that you use to benefit your sleep? I’d love to hear about them, they may also help others