Who's Looking After You? Tip Seven, Sleeping

I don’t know about you but I love my sleep and boy if I don’t get enough, I become a grouchy gremlin I don’t even recognise. When we are asleep our brain recharges, our cells repair themselves and we release hormones, which are important for our health and well-being.  Why is it then, that when we are busy and need our sleep more than ever, does it often evade us?

Here are my top tips for ensuring you get a good night’s sleep no matter what is happening around you:

  • Get into a routine.  If you’ve had children you’ll know how important it is to get them into a good sleep routine, which starts long before they make it into bed.  As adults it’s no different; a standard routine helps our body and mind prepare for sleep.  I’m not going to be prescriptive about what this should include because you will find what works best for you.  It might include having a ‘set’ bedtime, doing some gentle relaxation and breathing exercises or playing some calming music as you prepare for bed.
  • Ditch the technology.  It’s so tempting to look at our phones, tablets or other technological devices before we turn out the light. PLEASE DON’T.  The hormone melatonin helps regulate our sleep cycle and is controlled by light exposure so that when it's dark our brains release more melatonin, making us sleepy.  The light from our tablets and phones confuses our brains and reduces the amount of melatonin we release, which isn’t great when we’re trying to get to sleep.
  • Let go of your thoughts.  When we’re busy it can be incredibly difficult to switch off.  We may get into bed dog-tired but can’t get to sleep because our brain is still active, thinking about all the things we’ve got to do.  Someone once suggested to me that I keep a pen and paper by the bed so that when this happens I can write down my thoughts.  By doing this we enable our brains to switch off. Does it seem like a bit of a bonkers idea?  Give it a go because in my experience it does work. 
  • Create the right environment.  We are affected by our environment so to give yourself the best chance of having a good nights sleep, take a look at your current environment – the light, the temperature, the noise.  Personally I like my bedroom to be pitch dark, I always have a window open and I like absolute silence (I’m lucky because I live in a very quiet area).  What do you like?

Sleeping is not just good for our day-to-day performance but also our long-term health so I really hope these ideas help you get the rest you want.