Insomnia is a problem that affects many people and if it’s left unchecked it can go on to affect our health, work and relationships. Indeed sleep deprivation can lead to further problems such as an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes type 2. If you are one of the millions of people around the world who are suffering from a lack of sleep then it’s time to take action.
Sleep experts agree that one of the best ways of tackling insomnia is to get your mind and body into a regular routine each night to prepare it for sleep. Here are some suggestions for how to wind down and prepare for sleep.
1 Make sure that you leave around three hours after your evening meal before you retire to bed. Trying to sleep after having a big meal will slow down your digestion and leave you feeling uncomfortable. Similarly, avoid drinking alcohol before bedtime as this will hamper the quality of your sleep.
2 Have a cup of herbal tea to help you wind down. Valerian, rooibos or chamomile are all good choices as they aid relaxation. It goes without saying that you should avoid caffeine before bedtime. In fact sleep experts advise that you should cut out caffeine from lunchtime onwards.
3 Try putting some drops of lavender on your pillow or spray some lavender essence in the room. This herb is well known for aiding rest and relaxation. You could even try applying lavender essential oil to your pulse points.
4 Have a warm bath with essential oils before bedtime. Run the water so that it is not too hot and add a mixture of three drops of sandalwood and three drops of grapefruit essential oil. Swish the water around so that the oils are mixed well, get in and enjoy the relaxing aroma!
5 Invest in some blackout curtains or a sleep mask, to make sure that the light is blocked out. While we are asleep the body produces the hormone melatonin, which helps control the natural sleep-wake cycle. As soon as we are exposed to light, this acts as a signal to the body to stop producing melatonin which then makes it very difficult to get back to sleep. The darker the room the better, when it comes to getting good sleep.
6 Switch off your mobile phone and banish the TV, computer and tablet from the bedroom. Train your mind to realize that the bedroom is a place for sleep and not for things like working, surfing the net or taking phone calls.
7 Before you get into bed, write down a list of things that you need to do the following day. There’s nothing worse than suddenly remembering something urgent you need to do, just as you’re dropping off to sleep. Also try writing down a list of things that are worrying you or playing on your mind. This should help to stop you fretting and worrying when you should be getting to sleep.
8 Practise some meditation or yoga asanas for 15 to 20 minutes before bedtime and you’ll soon feel relaxed. Suitable asanas include child’s pose, legs up the wall pose and seated forward bend. As a simple meditation exercise, sit somewhere comfortable, where your back is supported, and just focus on your breathing for a few minutes. Try to slow down each breath and notice how it feels to breathe slowly in and out. Feel any stress and tension evaporating from your body with each out-breath.
I hope you find these steps useful in achieving a more restful and peaceful slumber!