sleeping woman

10 Simple Steps to Optimise Your Sleep

Sleep is the time for repairing damaged tissues and creating new cells in our bodies. It’s also crucial for maintaining our mental health and reducing stress.

Sleeping well quite literally improves everything in our lives from lowering blood pressure, improving memory and increasing the body’s ability to burn fat. 

So if you want to tap into the incredible healing power of sleep, here’s how to sleep better.

Step 1: Decide to make sleep a priority

If you’re serious about getting healthier, having better brain power and living longer, then frequent late nights and too little sleep need to go. 

Step 2: Have a Sleep Schedule

Create a schedule that suits you, aiming for between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night. Even your smart phone can help you do that. Have a fixed wake up time that you stick to everyday of the week so you get into a regular rhythm of sleep. It’s really important to have a regular sleep schedule because it trains your brain and body to get accustomed to getting the full amount of sleep that is needed specifically for you and keeps you in sync with your circadian rhythm.

Step 3: Create a Sleep Space

Create a soothing environment in your bedroom with simple things like having comfortable, inviting bedding. Make sure the temperature is right for you, err on the cooler side so you don’t get disturbed by overheating under the covers during the night. Block out light with black out blinds or using an eye mask. Drown out distracting noise with ear plugs or white noise.

Simple steps to optimise your sleep

Step 4: Your bed is not your sofa

Use your bedroom only for sleep and intimacy. Stop your brain from associating it with Netflix, phone calls, work or any of the myriad distractions we use to delay bed time.

Step 5: Have a bed time routine

Follow a night time routine to prepare for bed. Start by winding down 30 minutes before your scheduled bed time to get yourself into a relaxed state. You can do this by having a warm shower, dimming the lights, reading, listening to soft music. Being relaxed helps you drift off to sleep more easily and just like sleep training a baby, your brain will start associating bedtime routine with sleep.

Step 6: Meditate

Regular meditation is an excellent tool for improving sleep quality. It helps you relax more easily and reduces over thinking and worry that is so often the source of insomnia or poor sleep. Even if you meditate in the mornings, the beneficial effects will result in better sleep. A short meditation before sleep can be the natural sleeping pill you need.

Step 7: Fast before sleeping

Avoid eating dinner too late as digestion will reduce the quality of your sleep. Ideally you shouldn’t eat within 2 hours of bed time. Not only does the work of digestion interfere with sleep, it overheats your body and sleeping on a full belly can cause acid reflux which is a very common sleep disruptor.

Step 8: Cut out stimulants

Caffeine from tea, coffee, energy drinks, even chocolate, can stay in the blood stream for up to six hours. According to the Sleep Education Org, studies show that consuming caffeine six hours before bedtime can reduce total sleep time by ONE WHOLE hour. And while alcohol may help you fall asleep, the quality of your sleep with be poorer with less time spent in deep restorative REM sleep. So if you’re having problems sleeping, no stimulants past 2pm.

Step 9: Embrace darkness

Stop looking at screens at least an hour before bedtime. The blue light from screens interferes with the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Melatonin is naturally released as the day comes to an end, in sync with your circadian rhythm. As it gets darker melatonin levels start to rise in preparedness for sleep. If you must look at screens invest in a pair of glasses with blue light filters.

If you’re struggling to tear yourself away from your screen, download the freedom.to app and block those distracting websites that are keeping you from much more important things like sleep.

Step 10: Get up if you can’t sleep

If you find yourself tossing and turning, get out of bed, do something else calming for 20 minutes like reading a book, having a bath, breathing exercises and then get back to bed again.

And remember, what we do and how we feel during the day affects our sleep at night. So work on developing healthy habits during the day to optimise your sleep quality. Get some exposure to sunshine, engage in some physical activity (but not too close to bed time), practice gratitude and find time for stillness.

If you have anything you want to ask, or if there’s a topic you’d like me to write about just let me know.

Share this post