Difficulty getting to sleep, or staying asleep long enough to wake feeling rested and refreshed, is something we all experience at times. For some people, managing on only a few hours restless sleep has become the norm. It can impact on your mood, energy levels, productivity, and relationships as you struggle to function throughout the day. Consistently poor sleep has also been linked to serious health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity. With today’s busy lifestyles, it can help to incorporate a few good habits and have a few tricks up your sleeve, should your sleep start to cause you problems, to hopefully help you get back on track.
Here are a few ideas that you could try.
1. Establish a bedtime routine. It takes 21 days of repeated activity for that activity to become a habit.
Try to establish a reasonable bedtime following some time to switch off and wind down before bed. This might include a hot bath, curling up with a warm drink or a good book… whatever works for you!
2. Make your bedroom a restful place, where you want to spend time and look forward to heading to at bedtime. If you can, try to move phones / tablets / work paraphernalia / bills out the way. If you can, keep anything associated with stress, or things that need doing out of the bedroom so you don’t have to catch sight of it and be reminded of it.
3. Make a to do list before you go to bed. This can be a good way to try and feel more prepared and organised for the next day, and helps get it out your head. Try prioritising 3 things that you need to do tomorrow. Don’t pick the three biggest! Completing these three tasks will help you feel you have achieved something, and feel more in control. Then anything else you do on your list is an added bonus!
4. Rub a couple of drops of Lavender oil on the soles of your feet. Lavender has relaxing properties, but it can be too much to have on your pillow or by your face, and too much of this essential oil can actually have the opposite effect and work as a stimulant. Lavender oil is one of only a couple of essential oils that is safe enough to use undiluted. The benefits of putting it on the soles of your feet include it being easily absorbed into the skin, and therefore into the bloodstream, without the smell being too near your face which can be overpowering. This is helpful if you are not keen on the scent as you still get all the benefits. Or try mixing it with a small amount of coconut oil and massage into your feet to give them an extra treat and wake up with soft skin!
5. The association of smell can be really helpful to incorporate into your bedtime routine. Try using a favourite body lotion or bubble bath, to help build that association of scent and relaxation and sleep. Try the Beauty Sleep Body Lotion, or Goodnight Pillow Mist, which both contain a blend of essential oils to help promote sleep.
6. If stress and anxiety is impacting on your sleep, and you find yourself frequently struggling to either fall asleep, or waking in the night with thoughts buzzing in your head, then a Remedy to Roll may help. A blend of essential oils including chamomile, rose and neroli can help prepare the mind for sleep. Just roll the oil onto pulse points on the inside of your wrist elbows, or on your temples, at bedtime.
7. No alcohol. Sorry! If you are struggling with your sleep, even one drink is not going to do you any favours. Alcohol disrupts the sleep cycle, meaning you spend less time in the deep, resting phase, and more time in the less restful Rapid Eye Movement ( R.E.M. ) phase. Alcohol is also a diuretic meaning you are more likely to have to get up to use the toilet in the middle of the night.
8. Reduce your use of screens prior to bed, and try to avoid using your phone or tablet while you are in bed. Some research has suggested the light of the screens is “short-wavelength-enriched,” meaning it has a higher concentration of blue light than natural light. Blue light affects levels of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin more than any other wavelength, meaning it can shift your body’s natural clock. It also keeps your mind active, and your brain busy, meaning you are less likely to be able to switch off your thoughts when you do finally switch off your device.
9. Ear pellets. Tiny little silver pellets on a sticky circular base are placed on the Shen Men auricular (ear) acupuncture point. These seeds are gently pressed onto the acupuncture point as you lie with your head on the pillow. Shen Men is a Master Point in acupuncture – a powerful point which translates as Divine Gate, or Heavenly Gate, used to treat stress, anxiety, and inflammation, among many other things. These pellets are available for my clients to try – just mention it at your next appointment and I’ll leave some in place on your ear to see how you get on!
10. Have a treatment! Having that time out is a vital way to ensure you have time and space to unwind, which in turn helps you relax and manage stress. This allows your body to return to a more balanced state, lowering stress hormones including cortisol, which remain raised when your body is in stress-ready fight or flight mode. More on this in a future post! Any kind of treatment can help relax both body and mind, and Reflexology and Bowen Therapy have the added advantage of directly affecting the endocrine system (including serotonin, which plays a crucial role in mood), reducing feelings of anxiety, and promoting feelings of wellbeing. In addition, they can provide relief from physical symptoms, including pain, which may be impacting on your sleep. A short course, or just a regular top-up treatment every 4-6 weeks, or as needed, may be all you need to help manage your stress levels and your sleep.
Let me know if you try any of these tips and how you get on!
*Pillow Mist, Remedies to Roll, Lavender Oil, Sleep Tea are all available from my NYR Organic shop: https://uk.nyrorganic.com/shop/rachelbannister/area/shop-online/