Sleep - Tips and Advice
This section of the website is focused on the importance of sleep which is crucial to our overall well-being.
It's also important that we make sure we build time for relaxation, this can help uw manage stress, anxiety and stay mentally and physically healthy.
The importance of sleep and some simple strategies to help you sleep
Some tips for relaxation before sleep
Get started below.
Sleep, rest, and relaxation are crucial to our overall health and wellbeing, but of all of the things we do to look after ourselves, it’s the one that is often overlooked.
This resource will help you to identify strategies that will help you get a good night’s sleep, as well as offering plenty of ways for you to learn how to rest and relax.
Why Is Sleep Important?
Getting enough sleep is one of the most important aspects of our life, and when we are sleep deprived we are more likely to make bad decisions, be less productive, and experience lower mood for longer periods of time.
Below are 5 top tips to help you fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer.
1. Stick to a Sleep Schedule
Good sleep is all about having a routine where possible. Try to build a set time to wake up and go to bed into your weekly routine, and whilst you don’t have to stick to it all of the time for it to work effectively, you should aim to stick to it 5 out of the 7 nights each week.
Catching up on lost sleep is not as simple as it sounds as this will affect your body clock and have an impact on your sleep cycle. Therefore, a routine is really important and a routine can really help you to make sure you get enough sleep.
Within your sleep routine, aim for at least 7 hours per night.
2. Be Active
Regular physical activity and exercise really helps with sleep. It does this in a number of different ways.
Firstly, some of the things that block a good night’s sleep include anxiety, depression, and stress. We know that regular exercise releases positive chemicals into our body which helps to minimise the impact of these difficult emotions and helps us to sleep easier.
Secondly, when you exercise your body temperature rises – you might know this as sweating. When we finish exercising our body temperature cools gradually over a period of a few hours, when this happens, we naturally start to feel more tired – and this is only a good thing when trying to fall asleep.
3. Be Aware of Light
Remember that human beings have been around for thousands of years, and it might come as a surprise, but we have not evolved to absorb artificial light.
There is an especially important chemical in your body that your brain releases to make you aware that you are tired and that you need sleep, this is call melatonin.
When you are in a dark place, your brain releases more of it, this makes you drowsy and sleepy. When you are in a light place, your brain releases much less of it, making you more awake and alert.
It is really easy to confuse your brain when it comes to melatonin and falling asleep, just imagine lying down in bed in a dark room looking at a bright phone screen. One of the most effective ways of falling asleep quicker is to limit your use of phones, screens and tablets for at least 30 minutes before you get into bed, and if you can, make sure that you avoid your phone until the morning when you wake up.
Whilst your phone might be a strategy to keep you occupied when you feel like you cannot fall asleep – it is actually one of the very things that is keeping you awake.
4. Diet Matters
This one is simple;
a) Lower your sugar intake
b) Limit your caffeine intake
c) Avoid caffeine altogether after 3pm
d) Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables
If you can stick to the 4 points above, sleeping will be much easier.
5. Build a Good Sleep Environment
Where you sleep is important, and if you feel happy, safe, relaxed and at ease in your sleep environment then you can guarantee a better night’s sleep.
The key things to remember when building a good sleep environment are to keep your room dark, cool, well ventilated (so keep the windows open during the day), quiet and comfortable.
Relaxation before sleep
Whilst sleep is vital, so is rest and relaxation.
Rest and relaxation is all about ensuring that you have enough time to unwind, de-stress and enjoy some positive ‘you’ time before you get into bed.
Below is a relaxation exercise that you can try, hopefully it will help you relax.
Relax your body
When you’re stressed your muscles can become tight and tense. This exercise helps you notice tension in your body and relax your muscles.
You will need:
Somewhere comfortable to sit or lie down
Space where you won’t be interrupted
What do I do?
Lie down or sit with your back straight and your feet on the floor. Close your eyes or focus on a spot in the distance.
Start by clenching your toes as much as you can for a few seconds then releasing them. Notice the difference between the two feelings.
Match this to your breathing. Tense your muscle as you take a deep breath in, and relax as you breathe out.
Move up your body to your thighs, your stomach and all the way to your shoulders and hands, clenching and relaxing each muscle in turn. Take time to notice any parts of your body that feel tense, tight, or tired. You can repeat if you still feel tense.
Take a moment to relax, then slowly and gently begin to move. When you feel ready, you can stand up slowly.
If you want to try something different, instead of tensing your muscles, try placing something warm on each part of your body in turn.
LET'S RECAP ON WHAT WE HAVE COVERED
SLEEP IS REALLY IMPORTANT– It's crucial to our overall health and well-being and significantly affects our physical and mental health.
SLEEP CAN HELP US STAY PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY HEALTHY – You need regular and good quality sleep to stay mentally and physically healthy. Everyone needs to try and ensure they have a positive approach to sleep.
MAKE SURE YOU GET ENOUGH – It can be difficult to get enough sleep and ensure that it's of good quality. When we have busy lives fitting in enough sleep can be difficult but it's crucial. Most adults need between 6 and 9 hours sleep a night, try and aim for at least 7 hours. Coming up with a sleep plan that works for you can really help.