There are many things that keep us from sleeping better, but it all boils down to stress. Stress keeps us from sleeping, but what is worse is that stress is caused by lack of sleep.
Consistent, better sleep
Ideally we should be getting 7.5-9 hours of sleep per night and it is better if these are the same hours. This means falling asleep at the same time and waking up at the same time each day. A consistent sleep routine is very important to our physical and emotional well being! I cannot stress this enough. But how many of us actually do this?
We lead incredibly stressful lives and then not sleep enough to exponentially compound the problem. Flashbacks increase, anxiety increases, sadness is more consuming and patience decreases when we don’t get enough z’s.
Sometimes my clients come in with multiple problems in their families and they tell me how upset they have been, as well as really down on themselves for not being able to cope with everything. Then, they say that they are not getting enough sleep. I’m not surprised, stress makes it difficult to sleep, as our mind racing with all of these scenarios late at night.
First of all, lack of sleep alone has us out of touch with our own skills and abilities, it increases our impatience, anxiety, and decreases our ability to see the big picture. If nothing else was going on, I tell them, you’d be feeling like this just from lack of sleep and it would be normal. But then, you have all these things on top of it. (Why are we so hard on ourselves for being upset when it is a completely appropriate response to what is going on? This self judgment exaggerates any problem, and often becomes the problem, which is why I write so much about it. See self judgment articles.)
First and foremost, they need better sleep. We all need better sleep to maintain our good health or to heal. Our immune system needs sleep more than anything else. Sleep is when the body and mind recover and replenish. Our brain cleans itself out. The fluid between the synapsis in our brain cells clean each night. When we do not get enough sleep this liquid gets thicker and more syrupy. No wonder it makes it hard to think straight when we are tired, because it is literally hard to think- thoughts have trouble traveling from nerve cell to nerve cell, getting caught up in the syrup. We get anxious.
How to get better sleep
1. Make sleep a priority.
We often take from our sleep time, whenever we run out of time in our day to get our things done. This is the quickest way to burn out. Tasks end up taking longer when we are sleep deprived.
2. Go to bed at the same time each night.
3. Wake at the same time each morning.
4. Start sleep deprived.
Don’t sleep late in the morning and expect yourself to go to bed early to change your schedule. You must begin by getting up at the desired time. You can wake up when you are tired, but it is much harder to fall asleep if you are not tired. This is one of the biggest mistakes people make.
5. Nix the nap.
If you are already having a problem falling asleep or waking up. Nap only if neither of these are a problem.
6. Keep electronics out of the bedroom.
Not only are these stimulating, but they give off electromagnetic energy.
7. Keep plants out of the bedroom.
Plants give us oxygen during the day but take it in at night, so they do not belong in the bedroom. Plants in the rest of the house are beneficial, though!
8. Cut out caffeine.
This may be obvious but so many people don’t make this connection.
Even under your bed. It helps clear the mind.
10. No heavy or violent shows
Even no video games before bed.
11. Exercise regularly.
Do that but not close to bedtime.
12. Have a good bedtime routine.
Once you find something you like, do the same thing each night.
1. Take a warm bath
2. Massage your forehead, back or feet with sesame, jojoba or olive oil. Add a drop of a calming essential oil for best results.
3. Have a hot drink. (Hot milk is not just an old wives tale. The sugar in it helps us sleep and the heat calms the nervous system. Herbal tea is good too.)
4. Meditate or pray before sleep. Clear your mind, focus on your breath or do my meditations Imagine white light coming through your body three times.
5. Keep a notebook by your bed to write down “to do’s” or “worry’s” that might be filling your head.
6. Think of something positive and happy before bed. Take some deep breaths and think about a happy memory. Fill yourself with the joy of this memory.
7. Read or listen to music when you are having trouble clearing your mind.
8. If you are really struggling with a busy mind give it something to do. Such as, breathe and count, or walk through the scenes of a movie or TV show you just saw (make sure the theme is happy). Or take a tour of an old house/apartment that you lived or spent time in.
Get the printer friendly version of this hand out here: How To Get Better Sleep
How many hours a night do you get? And what helps you all get better sleep?