“Ugh, had such a bad sleep last night!” is a complaint I think we have all either heard or uttered ourselves at some stage or other.
There are many simple reasons for getting a bad night’s sleep – your room might be too hot or too cold for example, you drank one Americano too many or there may be an inconsiderate tomcat yowling in the back garden (seriously, it’s like a bad Aristocats remake in my estate at times.)
One such night isn’t going to do much harm. However, if disturbed sleep or entirely sleepless nights become a routine, we need to take action – they can be detrimental for our all-important mental well-being, with results such as insomnia & depression. (Waking early in the am and being unable to go back to sleep is also another sleep-related sign of depression.)
These sleepless nights may be caused by other more serious factors than disruptive felines: being overly anxious, nightmares and rumination (thinking about something over and over but coming to no resolution).
So how to combat this? Hopefully the following tips and tricks I have gathered/ used myself will help you out – I know it can be tough when all you want is to sleep but your mind just won’t let you!
- Aromatherapy: Spritz a bit of lavender oil onto your pillow or burn a Lavender candle or incense. Lavender smells beautiful and aids sleep – just be sure to blow out the candle before you drift off!
- A new mattress: Investing in a new mattress could solve your woes.
- Stop using electronic devices an hour before bed: Your brain is too alert and active to fall asleep if you are staring at a screen and absorbing information just before you go to sleep.
- Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day to get your body clock back into routine. On the weekend try not lie in til 2pm no matter how tempting it may seem! Sticking with your sleeping pattern can ensure you fall asleep soundly again the following night.
- Only use your bed for sleeping and sex – never study in bed or eat in bed so your brain only associates bed with sleeping.
- Avoid caffeine in the evening: It is actually recommended not to drink it after 12pm as caffeine stays in your system for up to 12 hours but if that is too hard and you enjoy a coffee, at least try to avoid it after 5pm.
- Watch your eating habits: Don’t eat just before bed as you can feel fell, bloated and unable to sleep.
- Deep breathing exercises: I used these exercises before (Relaxation Breathing & Insomnia Progressive Muscle Relaxation) and found they really helped when I was anxious.
- Listening to bird song/water sounds before bed can relax the mind.
- A good book: Getting into the habit of reading before bed helps you switch off from your worries as you become absorbed in the story. I always find that this helps me – the pages are falling out of my Harry Potter books at this stage, they’ve been read so often!
- Nightmares can be very distressing and talking about it with someone you trust or a counsellor can help reach the root of the problem.
- Take a bath before bed: Forget the water charges for an evening and treat yourself to a soak in the bath at the end of a long day to relax your muscles!
- Exercise: Exercise in the evening can really help sleep, even just a walk around the block or a nice cycle can work wonders. However don’t exert yourself after 9pm as it can have the opposite effect and keep you wired.
Best of luck,