If you have difficulty sleeping, you are not alone. A lot of people struggle to have restful, uninterrupted sleep, while others have difficulty falling asleep in the first place. For some, the problem lies in their inability to get into bed at a reasonable hour, and this leads to sleeping through alarms and battling tiredness throughout the following day. This problem isn’t just frustrating for the people affected — it’s damaging to their short and long-term health and wellbeing. This is why it is so important to prioritise a healthy relationship with sleep. Getting stuck in a dysfunctional sleeping pattern can have a negative impact on several areas of your life, and is ultimately not worth the extra time you spend finishing your work or scrolling through your phone.
1. Establish a Consistent Bedtime
It might sound juvenile, but giving yourself a bedtime can be extremely helpful and sometimes even necessary in establishing a healthy sleep routine. It also helps to dedicate the 30–40 minutes beforehand to winding down and settling into bed. This time might involve reading, stretching, meditating or listening to calming music. If you have trouble with discipline, be strict with yourself and force yourself to get into bed at the allocated time with no exceptions. This could be difficult at first, but eventually your body will adjust to this new schedule. Over time, you’ll find it easier to fall asleep and wake up when you need to, and have a better sleeping pattern overall.
2. Organise Your Space
You might not realise it, but sometimes your bedroom is the reason why you struggle to get to sleep. For some people, a main obstacle they face when falling asleep is their hyperactive thoughts. They might feel scatter-brained or anxious, and not totally comfortable as they try to sleep. If you relate to this feeling, we recommend taking steps to organise your space before you go to bed. This means giving your room a quick tidy — even for just 5 minutes — to ensure that your environment is clean and pleasant. If you’re leaving the house early the next day, make sure everything you need is set up and ready to go. Rather than leaving them for the next day, complete any small but stressful tasks that are hanging over your head. This way, you can forget about the following morning, and focus solely on getting the rest you need.
3. Get Comfy
This hack might seem obvious, but it’s amazing how often we neglect our own comfort! Don’t put up with an average pillow, a hot room or a mattress that gives you back pain. The quality of your mattress, bedding and pillow is absolutely crucial, as these things can affect the depth and longevity of your sleep. Purchase high-quality items that meet your needs, including an orthopaedic pillow and, if necessary, maybe even a weighted blanket. You should also be sure to dress as comfortably as possible for bed, and choose clothing with soft, breathable fabrics. If you tend to get very hot or cold during the night, purchase a fan or extra blankets. These things will make a huge difference to your sleep.
4. Put Your Phone Away
This could be a tricky one. A lot of us love to end our night by catching up on messages or scrolling through social media. Sometimes, this practice can even feel like we’re winding down, until we realise it’s been hours since we started. The trouble with looking at our phones is that the light from these devices keeps our brains awake and alert. This makes it much harder for us to fall into a peaceful sleep. Plus, a lot of the time, the content we consume from social media is negative. While it is good to be up-to-date on recent news, bombarding yourself with these stories can be unsettling right before bed. Instead of engaging with your phone — or TV and video games, for that matter — consider reading a book or trying meditative practices.
5. Get Exposure to Both Daylight & Darkness
As mentioned in the last hack, light does a good job of keeping your mind alert. Whether it is natural or unnatural light, exposure to brightness lets your body know that it is time to be awake. Likewise, darkness will promote feelings of sleepiness, and boost the levels of melatonin produced by your body. If you experience irregular light exposure, your circadian rhythms can be disrupted, which will make it harder to both stay awake and fall asleep when you need to. To ensure that you are exposed to the correct amounts of light and dark, try to spend some time outside during the day. When you’re nearing your bedtime, keep the lights low, and maybe even install some blackout curtains to ensure no light comes in from outside.
Don’t Give Up!
Depending on how messy your sleep schedule currently is, the process of fixing it could be very challenging. It’s worth noting that some people are naturally inclined to fall asleep later, while others prefer to sleep and wake up early. The point is: don’t be too hard on yourself as you seek to rectify your sleeping pattern. Try sleep-enhancing supplements if you need to, and seek help from a professional healthcare provider if your problems persist. You may require personalised solutions. But generally speaking, adopting healthy sleep habits should improve the quality and quantity of your sleep. Prioritising this aspect of your life can not only improve your overall health and wellbeing, but also enhance your productivity, creativity and enjoyment of daily life.