Sleeping is one of the most important things for the health of our bodies and our minds. Yet, it’s something we all tend to pay little attention to. We know that having a regular sleeping pattern will improve our physical health and benefit us in our lives – maybe we’ll actually have enough energy to get through the day!
But no-one ever talks about the reality of figuring out the art of sleeping well. It’s hard to stick to routines that sometimes impede on our social or professional lives. We’ve all been there. It’s after midnight and you’re writing up the work you swore you’d do days before the deadline, but here you are. That’s life. That’s being human. And that’s what those experts sometimes fail to mention. This doesn’t mean that you can’t get your sleeping schedule in check.
Here are five things to consider when attempting to get to grips with the art of sleeping well.
Listen to your body
Caffeine lovers everywhere often begin their day with coffee. The mistake you might be making is ending it with coffee too. It has been proven that consuming caffeine up to six hours before you go to sleep significantly worsens the quality of your sleep. This is because caffeine disrupts your body’s internal clock. In other words…
Put the coffee down… and the fizzy drinks too! Consuming caffeine before bed is an enemy to sleeping well!
Consistency is the key
Waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day can ultimately affect you for the best. Irregular sleeping patterns can lead to poor sleep, whereas sleeping at the same time every day can help to improve sleep quality. As you grow more used to your sleeping pattern, you’ll be able to wake up naturally and start your day with a positive beginning. Of course, consistency is a hard thing to achieve in a chaotic and busy life but the more you attempt to find a sleeping pattern, the more you’ll be inclined to follow it.
Don’t sleep too much
People often believe that the more hours they sleep, the more energised they’ll be. While it is advisable to get an average 8 hours of sleep a day, exceeding this could be a sign of an underlying problem. Work on solving the underlying problem by talking to your friends, family or if necessary, your doctor.
The bedroom is for sleeping
I have found myself guilty of this sleeping sin on numerous occasions – turning my bedroom space into my workspace. Sleep experts strongly advise that you distinguish between the bedroom and your workspace because this leads to strengthening the mental association between the bedroom and sleep. If you do work on your bed, when it comes to actually going to bed, your brain might be unable to distinguish between doing work and sleeping.
You may find yourself counting your times-tables instead of counting sheep!
This idea of isolating the rooms in terms of their functions also means that you should avoid bringing your phone, laptop or any other distractions (especially technological ones) into your bedroom because these will make it harder for your brain to register that it’s night-time and therefore time to sleep.
The bed you sleep on matters just as much as the amount of time you sleep for. Ensure that you are sleeping on a mattress that enhances your sleep quality as old bedding can lead to back pain which can badly impact your quality of sleep.
Destress before bed
A common factor as to why people have difficulty sleeping well is because they are tense and stressed by things in their lives. Hot baths and meditation have both been proven to be effective methods that could help you get out of the funk you’re in and fall into a stress-free sleep.
Planning your day and giving yourself realistic goals will help you avoid feeling stressed before bed because you’ll have completed your goals for the day. This means you won’t shoot up in bed when you remember that essay you didn’t write or that piece of work you forgot to finish!
A sleep diary might reveal the truth
Keeping a journal of all the times you go to sleep and wake up could unveil a pattern that you aren’t aware of. This could help you make alterations in order to better your sleeping pattern and the quality of your sleep. If you find it difficult to get to sleep, a sleep diary could help you, and, alongside your GP, diagnose any possible underlying health issues.
Eating late will keep you awake
Eating late at night has been shown to make it more difficult to sleep. As well as this, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania highlighted the health risks of eating late at night, as they discovered that it raises your insulin levels as well as your glucose levels, which both cause type 2 diabetes.
It’s important to remember that different things apply to different people and you have to work on yourself. Focus on what keeps you up at night, or what makes you pass out at 4 pm or why you seem to sleep for 12 hours and then sleep for none the day after!
The art of sleeping well is the art of understanding your body and thus working out a sleeping schedule that you will actually adhere to. Figure out how you’ll ensure your bedroom helps you get to sleep and doesn’t actually help keep you up!