So you think you know how to Sleep?

You’re tossing and turning in bed. Sighing, moaning and counting sheep. Not being able to sleep, night after night, can make you feel oh-so alone, yet at least 1 in every 3 people suffer with mild insomnia.

There are a few signs that can give you a heads up that you’re headed for a rough night’s sleep. Most of the time though, poor quality sleep comes down to bad habits you may not even realise you have that are affecting your ability to enjoy a restful night’s sleep.

Late Night Munchies

It can be so tempting to reach for a chocolate bar while chilling on the couch after dinner, or go full snack-attack with chips and sweets while binging series from bed. These late night indulgences may taste good, but as you can probably imagine, they do nothing to help your sleeping problem. In fact, you are probably feeding it (pardon the pun).

Having late night snacks means your body is still digesting food when you’re trying to fall asleep. If one part of your body is so active, of course you’re going to feel awake! Overeating at dinner, or eating immediately before bed can also give you indigestion, which is a recipe for a restless night. Sleeping on a full stomach may also cause you to spend more time in REM sleep (rapid eye movement), which is where you have your most vivid, not particularly restful, dreams. So, if you’re having trouble sleeping, ditch the late night snacks and switch for a cup of herbal chamomile tea, that may in fact help instead of hinder your sleep.

Caffeine Consumption

You might be aware that caffeine (found in tea, coffee, chocolate and cola) is a stimulant to avoid at night, but what about the 7 cups of coffee you drink during the day? Wishful thinking if you think those aren’t going to affect you at night.  Even if you’re not consuming caffeine right before bed, build up during the day can still leave you buzzing.

A buzz before bed is not something you’ll be looking for when you’re in need of a good night’s rest. Water is a wiser choice, so ditch the coffee before bed and try to keep your total consumption low throughout the day. This way you should be down from your caffeine high when the moon is up and your bed is calling.

Drinking To Fall Asleep

Alcohol makes you drowsy,  which leads to the common assumption that a drink before bed will make you sleep like a baby. We’ve all fallen victim to this myth before.

While it might initially bring on sleep, alcohol later acts as a stimulant, causing you to wake up more frequently, and decreasing your quality of sleep. The result? Poor snoozing after boozing, leaving you feeling tired and un-energised when you wake up.

Try limit your alcohol intake to two or less drinks per day, and avoid drinking within three hours of bedtime for a sober, sleepy slumber.

You Snooze, You Lose

Using your phone as an alarm clock opens the door to a nasty ‘snooze’ hitting habit – a BIG no-no! When your alarm goes off it’s better to wake up, get up, and get your day started. It may be tempting to allow yourself those extra 10 minutes, but hitting snooze for some extra Z’s disturbs your natural sleep rhythm and ultimately leaves you with a groggy start to the day.

Having your phone next to your bed also leads to late night scrolling when you’re trying to fall asleep. A quick little scroll through Instagram might feel harmless, but it actually stimulates your brain, leaving you even more awake than you were before.

Try leaving your phone near your bedroom door before climbing into bed, and keep a book on your bedside table. This will ease the temptation to check whats trending on twitter, and force you to get up and out of bed when your alarm goes off in the morning. Not only will this habit keep you safe from the snooze button, but leisure reading is also a great way to soothe your brain into sleep mode.

Temperature Control

You may think a hot environment eases your body into a sweet slumber… quite the contrary!

Your body naturally cools when you sleep, so going to bed in a room that’s a little cooler than the rest of the house, encourages your body to fall soundly to sleep.

Taking Work to Bed

Work should not happen where you sleep, simple as that. Working in bed creates an association in your brain between your bed and your job; hardly conducive to catching quality Z’s. Rather have a designated work space in your home where you can slave until sundown and close the door behind you when you are done.

Computers and TV’s are also best left outside the bedroom to strengthen the mental association between your room and sleep.

Regular Sleep Patterns

Skimping on sleep during the week, and over compensating on the weekends to catch up is not helpful. Your body craves consistency and irregular sleeping patterns can cause “sleep jet lag” where your body sleeps in two different time zones – weekends and weekdays.

Try to stay consistent with bedtime and rising time Monday through to Sunday to help synchronize your sleep clock so your body knows when to expect some shut eye.

So Now You Know How To Sleep

Sticking to these guidelines is just the beginning of your journey to sleep. Consistency and discipline is key, but if you’re still struggling after following these tips for some time, it’s a good idea to consult medical professional.

Move Well. Live Well.