Do you have trouble sleeping? You’re not the only one! Not having a good night’s sleep can affect us in so many other areas – I know for me personally even just getting an hour less than I need leaves me cranky and irritable. Whether its trouble getting to sleep, tossing and turning or waking up through the night that you struggle with, I’ve learned some tips and tricks that have helped me sleep better. They’re practical and too good not to share! Read on for how you can set yourself up for a restful sleep in the most natural ways.
Six Practical Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep
ONE: Set up a night time routine
Routine plays a huge part in allowing your body and mind the opportunity to process that it’s now bedtime. If you’ve been running on level nine or ten and then immediately expect your body and mind to settle down, its no wonder you may be having trouble sleeping! When I used to work nights, I would need time when I got home to give myself the chance to wind-down before bed. Similarly, your body and mind needs a process that tells it, ‘hey, we’re about to go to sleep now!’
This doesn’t have to be anything drastic. For me, it includes having a shower which helps warm me up and relax my muscles. I also can’t sleep without feeling clean! Brushing your teeth, reading a book (the paper kind – no screens!), drinking herbal tea or doing other small things repeatedly each night will help with relaxation and will prep you for sleep. Tell your mind and body it’s now bedtime with a bedtime routine!
TWO: Set regular sleeping & waking up times
Similar to a nighttime routine, setting a regular bed & wake up time programs your body to a schedule. Just like jet lag, if your body is used to being awake at a certain time, its no wonder it’s hard to relax or sleep! If you find it hard to get to sleep at night, resist the urge to sleep-in the next day. This only reinforces irregular sleeping patterns and can cause you to oversleep during the day. This then makes it harder to get to sleep that night – and the cycle continues. As tired as you may be, get up at a reasonable hour and use that tiredness to encourage your body to sleep at your usual bedtime the following night.
THREE: Watch what you are eating & drinking
I’m sure we all know that certain foods and drinks (caffeine!) can affect our sleep. Meanwhile some people don’t seem to be affected by caffeine at all. However, if you’re having trouble sleeping, it could be a good idea to test out if you are being affected by your diet, by cutting out certain food or drink for a week at a time. This will give your body time to rid itself of any excess that could be in your system.
By testing this out I’ve recently discovered that my nighttime black-tea drinking does have some affect on my ability to fall asleep, so I’ll be switching to green tea for some nights. Apart from coffee and tea, consider other things that may contain caffeine such as soft drinks, or other food and drink that might be revving you up at night – like sugar. If you don’t want to cut these things completely from your diet, give yourself a cutoff time in the afternoon where you won’t consume them past a certain time. If you normally have a nightly cuppa, set your cutoff a few hours earlier so you’ll be able to tell if it makes a difference.
FOUR: Make sure you have the right pillow
Making sure you have a great pillow is the MOST underrated part of getting a good night’s sleep! We invested in a quality mattress over a year ago, but it never seemed comfortable until I recently bought a new contour pillow on a whim. Up until then, I would toss and turn through the night, waking up and trying to get comfortable. Getting a proper supportive pillow changed this completely! I now sleep through with barely waking up and our mattress now seems so much more comfortable (haha).
How do you know a quality pillow when you see one? For me, the key to a good pillow is one that has proper contour neck support, like this one. Regular pillows seem comfortable to begin with, but never actually gave my head and neck the support it needed. And neck support is something I didn’t know I needed until I had it, and what a relief it was!
I like to sleep on my back and side (and sometimes even my tummy – I like to mix it up) and the pillow is great for all three, but especially for side-sleeping it allows your shoulder to not get squashed and helps with spine and neck alignment. I cannot speak more highly for getting a ‘proper’ supportive contour pillow!
FIVE: Have a screen usage cut-off time
You may have heard before about the impact lights from our digital appliances can have on our brains. The light omitted from TVs, iPhones and laptops can mess with our body clocks and stop us from sleeping. Give yourself a screen cutoff time perhaps around an hour before bedtime to allow your body to naturally grow tired. If you find yourself getting a lot of screen time during the day, consider getting blue-light glasses. These glasses refract the harmful light from our eyes that can mess with our sleep patterns.
SIX: Keep a sleep journal
Lastly, if you have ongoing trouble sleeping, consider jotting down some notes on your sleeping patterns. This might include the time you went to bed, and then when you wake up in the morning, jot down how your sleep was and when you woke up. Other things to take note of could be anything you thought affected your sleep, what you ate/drank that night or what your activities were in the few hours before bedtime. While doing this may not help you sleep better instantly, it can help to remove yourself from a frustrating situation of not getting enough sleep, and enable you to pinpoint what the common cause could be when you refer back to your notes.
Have you experienced sleeplessness before? These tips are some practical things you can put into place to help you improve your sleep quality. If you experience severe sleeplessness or insomnia, there’s nothing wrong with getting professional help such as seeing your doctor. For less severe cases, put these tips into practice and get a good night’s sleep tonight!
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