Sleep is getting a lot of attention lately. I love sleep and I am not ashamed to admit it! I believe in the power and restoration of sleep for the body and mind.
As a society there has been a belief that ‘successful’ people can flourish on 4 hours sleep a night. In my opinion, these people may be functioning but I would be surprised if they are flourishing. I want you to flourish. What else is life for?
The research into sleep is limited but what the research does tell us is that sleep helps the body, and more importantly the brain, ‘reset’ from the activities of the day. Sleep helps us to absorb new memories, make memoires and retain information. This cannot be done on 4 hours sleep a night.
There has also been this figure batted around that people should aim to get 8 hours sleep a night. This is an average. Some people need a little more than 8 hours and some people will need a little less. You will know what works for you. No one is the same.
When a child is cranky, we know that they haven’t got enough sleep. The same is true for adults. Who remembers being a child and having a night time routine? 7pm would be bath time, then getting into pjs, our caregiver tucking us into bed to read a story and finally dimming the lights ready for sleep.
Do we do this as an adult?
I think we all know the answer to this, probably a no.
We sit up for hours, watching TV while scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter. After this we jump straight into bed and expect to just fall asleep. Hold on, what happened to winding down? What happened to a bit of ‘me time’?
If you’re in a bad mood, ask yourself if you have been getting enough sleep recently.
Some of my clients report waking frequently during the night and either thinking about the day ahead or even the past, fixating on thoughts that they cannot do anything about. Then, during the day they may report having difficultly being able to concentrate, processing information and being irritable. It becomes a vicious cycle.
Sleep is an integral part of being able to function.
What I have seen in my clinical practice is that helping clients to have a more restful night can boost mood during the day. I try to help the to identify strategies for a good night’s sleep. My clients who have learned to rest well are more awake, alert and feel a little perkier.
Here are my top 5 tips for a restful night:
- Establish a wind down routine (1 hour before getting into bed). Hint… No screen time.
- Prepare your room for sleep. Make sure that your bedroom is associated with sleep and sex. Nothing else. Remove the office work and anything else that isn’t associated with sleep and rest.
- Make sure that your bedroom is cool. A hot room can lead to waking up in the night.
- If you wake up in the night and you are awake for more than 10 minutes, get out of bed. Go downstairs and do something boring for 5 minutes and then go back to bed.
- Limit teas, coffees, energy drinks and even malt drinks before bed. Maybe have a herbal tea.
Tip number 1 is my favourite, give it a go!
Remember, to keep on trying these tips. Trying something once isn’t really trying. Give it at least 2 weeks.
If you stick with these tips, I’m sure the majority of you will be able to sleep a little sounder.
I will be running a Sleep and Restore workshop on the 12th of September 7-9pm in London. Details on my Facebook page @balancedselfyogaandcbt.
The workshop merges CBT skill with yoga! You will leave feeling more like you have the tools to help yourself fall off to sleep for a more balanced you!