It’s really incredibly easy to forget the self-care basics given the additional stressors that we’re all dealing with currently. For me, sleep has been one of the first things to be disrupted in recent months. Not being able to fall asleep until 5am, falling asleep straight away but waking up at regular intervals and feeling groggy upon waking became a regular occurrence.
Thankfully I have been able to get my sleep quality back on track. Now sleeping 8 hours a night is the norm, rather than the exception – and it really didn’t take much adjustment to my routine to get there. So here are just a few tips you can follow that may help you achieve the bliss of hours in the land of nod:
- Don’t eat after 7pm. I saw this one in practice – my sleep monitoring gadget recorded far less tossing and turning and far less interrupted sleep, from the very night I started this habit. My body wasn’t “awake” and expending energy digesting my food while asleep. Studies have shown that eating late can have a negative affect on sleep quality, so this one is really worth implementing if you have trouble with sleep.
- Avoid caffeine (after midday if possible). Caffeine is a definite sleep disruptor that can leave you feeling quite hyper with a stimulant effect on the body. We know caffeine is in coffee, tea and fizzy drinks, but it’s also quite often a hidden ingredient in other foods, beverages and some medications too. Unfortunately decaffeinated coffee isn’t completely free of caffeine, so if you’re drinking a few cups during the day – you may experience some sleep quality issues. One that surprised me was green tea, I had thought it to just be an innocent herbal tea option but it contains about a 1/3 of the amount of caffeine as a coffee. Might explain why drinking a few cups before bed left me wide awake! Foods can also contain caffeine, and I’m sorry to say that dark chocolate is a culprit with 30g containing up to 20mg of caffeine depending on the brand. An espresso shot contains around 64mg of caffeine, so a couple of squares of dark chocolate could leave you wide awake. Be aware too that certain medications can contain caffeine, such as Excedrin, Sudafed and some Lemsip products.
- Have you ever noticed that lying down worsens your heartburn, or starts it? If you’re prone to heartburn from foods such as onions and tomatoes, definitely avoid them in your evening meal.
- Avoid blue light 2-3 hours before bedtime. This means TV, PC screen, phone… personally I found this very difficult at the start, but well worth it. Consider obtaining a reading device such as Kindle or Onyx, which use an eye-friendly E-Ink screen that’s great for reading (but unfortunately not for movies, videos etc.)
- Keep to the same sleep schedule as much as possible – go to bed at the same time every evening. This will support your natural circadian rhythm and over time can help you improve sleep quality.
- Make sure you’re comfortable! If your mattress, pillows, lighting are a problem – change them.
I hope the above is of some help – sleep well!