Sleep Well With Our Top 5 Techniques
If you’re a terrible sleeper, chances are you’ve read every article out there on the benefits of avoiding screen time before bed, taking plenty of cardio and drinking your last cup of coffee in the early afternoon. Practising good sleep hygiene is relatively straightforward, yet the numbers suggest that we’re still not getting enough sleep and, particularly, enough quality sleep.
Perhaps we’re lacking the self-control to put our phones to bed an hour before ourselves, or perhaps forgoing caffeine altogether still isn’t yielding the benefits you hoped. Whatever it is, we’ve come up with some sleep-enhancing tips that go beyond the hackneyed ‘sleep hygiene rules’ and will have you snoozing like only your teenage-self knew how.
1. Get Yourself Some Sleep Stationary
As much as we would like to wax lyrical about social media detoxes and putting our phones and laptops away at 9pm, we’re also realists, and we know that from time to time (or mostly always) we flagrantly disregard the screen rules, staring at our email inboxes well into the night. Unsurprisingly, thinking about work right up until bedtime is not conducive to eight solid hours of shut eye. So to balance this bad habit, invest in a notepad that you keep on your bedside table. Jot down all the things you need to get done tomorrow, including those last-minute tasks you’re considering getting your phone out to do now – they can wait! Getting your thoughts onto paper is a major mental refresh and it means you don’t have to think about them once they’re written down, so you can let go of work for the day and sleep.
2. Read With Your Legs Up The Wall
It sounds a bit weird, sure, but this is a real ‘two birds one stone’ move: reading is a tried-and-true way of getting your monkey-brain to relax, while lying on your bed with your legs resting up the wall is an ultra-relaxed version of the ‘legs up the wall’ yoga pose designed to relaxes the nervous system.
3. Go Herbal
We’re all too quick to pop a sleeping pill on nights when we’re struggling, but if you’ve ever been down that route, chances are that you know all too well it’s a bad cycle to get stuck in. Instead, opt for herbal power. Magnesium supplements are a great place to start and a proven sleep aid. It not only helps to relax your muscles, but studies have shown that it helps decrease cortisol, the “stress hormone” that can keep you up at night. Trying a pillow mist and an essence rubbed into your pulse points is also worth trying. These won’t necessarily lull you into a deep sleep, but used regularly, they will form part of a habit and signal to your brain that it is time to sleep.
4. Breathe The 4-7-8 Way
You may have heard that focusing on your breathing is meditative and therefore helpful for relaxing and drifting off, but the 4-7-8 breathing technique, developed by Andrew Wail, is a relatively new spin that claims to have you asleep in under a minute. We’ve tried the technique and while we wouldn’t go as far to say that it does zero to sleep in sixty seconds, we do think it’s very effective.
Here’s what you do: inhale through your nose for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 7, then do a big long whooshing exhale through your mouth for 8. It’s a no-brainer for when your mind is racing like crazy and it’s also a natural tranquiliser for the nervous system.
5. Track Your Sleep
No doubt, extended amounts of tossing and turning and disrupted sleep through the night is a recipe for feeling extremely anxious and frustrated. There is a chance, however, that you’re getting more sleep than you think. Using a sleep tracker will help you keep the amount of sleep you’re clocking in perspective and keep your anxieties at bay. Maybe you’re not getting the amount of sleep that you’d like, but the quality is much better than you thought. Whatever it is, it’s nice to know that when you’re waking up at random hours, chances are you’ll fall back to sleep in no time.