Tips to get a good night’s sleep
By Heather Lynn - - Head of Youth Programs at the Y NSW
Having difficulty sleeping at the moment? You are not alone, many of us have been experiencing the stress and uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and the significant impact it has had on our lives.
To maintain health and wellbeing, it is so important to get a good night’s sleep. Lack of sleep is associated with disruptions in mood, thinking, concentration, memory, learning, vigilance and reaction times (Hillman & Lack, 2013). Insufficient sleep can amplify any feelings of stress and anxiety. This can all culminate to have a negative impact on our relationships, home life and career. According to leading neuroscientist and sleep expert Professor Matthew Walker’s research, sleep has a direct impact on our resilience, especially in times of stress. Good sleep is essential for optimum brain function and for emotional regulation. Good sleep promotes long-term physical resilience against illness, as well as supporting our everyday emotional resilience to handle the curveballs of life. So how can we get a good night’s sleep? Below are some tried and tested ways to help ensure a good and restful nights’ sleep:
• Create a Zen Den - Design your bedroom to be cool, quiet and dark when you going to sleep. As much as possible keep your bedroom and especially your bed as a space only for rest and relaxation.
• Create a bedtime ritual - Try to go to bed at about the same time every night so your body and mind know when to get ready to slow down. You may like to use scents (lavender is great), teas designed to promote sleep, and anything else that helps you wind down.
• Eat early - Avoid heavy meals in the evening as a full stomach can be uncomfortable and disrupt your sleeping patterns.
• Calm the mind - Avoid activities that keep the mind ticking over before bedtime. TV, laptops and phone use tend to stimulate the brain. Try keeping a journal as a way to process the day and your thoughts - once your thoughts are written down you are more likely to have a clear mind primed for sleep. Also connect with loved ones throughout the day as a way to de-brief, reflect but also to have fun and appreciated the lighter things in life.
• Go Tech Free – TV’s phones, laptops and the like emit a blue light, which affects your melatonin receptors and tells the brain that it is daytime. Try and ensure devices are switched off an hour before bedtime and you may like to leave these outside your bedroom so you are not tempted to use these during the night.
• Move your Body – Exercising during the day will help promote good sleep and keep a regular routine. Whether it’s 1 hour, 30 minutes or a high intensity workout for 15 minutes – all exercise is beneficial. Just avoid training 2 hours prior to sleep.
• Still can’t sleep? – Try not to focus on the lack of sleep as this can create unnecessary anxiety, simply allow any feelings of rest and relaxation and sleep will eventually come. You cannot make yourself fall asleep, however, using these tips may help to create the right conditions for sleep.
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