Home Mental Health & Well-Being Sleep for Health – Conquer Insomnia and Wake Up Refreshed with 11 Effective Hacks

Sleep for Health – Conquer Insomnia and Wake Up Refreshed with 11 Effective Hacks

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For those who are sleep-deprived, the promise of a restful night can feel like an elusive fairy tale. Tossing and turning, counting sheep (or maybe even your anxieties), and the frustration of chasing slumber can leave you feeling drained and desperate. 

Before you resign yourself to another night of staring at the ceiling, take heart; conquering insomnia and waking up to an invigorating morning doesn’t require complex routines or exotic remedies. For all but the most intractable cases, the simplest hacks can unlock the door to a world of restful nights and energetic awakenings.

  • Harness the power of ritual. Our bodies thrive on rhythm, structure and predictability. Establishing a consistent sleep schedule, even on weekends, helps regulate your internal clock, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up at the same time each day. This includes carving out a relaxing ‘wind-down’ routine in the hour before going to bed. Dim the lights, take a warm bath, read a book, or practice calming yoga or meditation.
  • Banish the blue light. Electronic devices emit blue light, which mimics daylight and suppresses melatonin production, (the hormone that governs our sleep-wake cycle). Avoid using phones, tablets, and laptops at least an hour before bed. If late-night reading is your guilty pleasure, opt for a book or invest in blue light-blocking glasses. Many smartphones and tablets now have a blue light filter. If yours does, then you can use it before going to bed.
  • Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary. Your bedroom should be a haven for sleep, not a battleground for distractions. Keep it cool, dark, and quiet. Invest in blackout curtains, earplugs, and a comfortable mattress and pillows. Eliminate clutter and avoid placing work materials or electronics in the room. Your bedroom is for sleep, not work or entertainment.
  • Double, king, and queen-sized beds disrupt sleep. That is, if there are two people sleeping in them. How? We all move or make noise in our sleep. When we do, we disrupt the sleep of the other person. When they move or make noise, they disrupt our sleep. What is the solution? To have two separate mattresses side by side, and to have separate bed covers.
  • Exercise wisely. Most people know that regular physical activity improves sleep quality. What is less known is that timing matters. Strenuous workouts too close to bedtime can energise your body rather than calm it. Opt for moderate exercise earlier in the day, and wind down with gentle stretches or a calming walk in the evening.
  • Befriend natural light. Natural daylight is crucial for regulating your sleep-wake cycle. Aim for at least 30 minutes of natural light exposure during the day, preferably in the morning. This helps set your internal clock and makes it easier to fall asleep at night.
  • Control your thoughts. A racing mind can be the archenemy of sleep. If your worries keep you awake, try journaling before bed to release thoughts onto paper. Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing or guided imagery to quiet your mental chatter. Worrying about not sleeping makes it worse. Create a calm and accepting environment for your sleep.
  • Say “no” to alcohol before bed. Contrary to the popular belief that alcohol helps people sleep, alcohol actually disrupts sleep patterns. While alcohol induces drowsiness initially, it disrupts sleep later in the night, leading to frequent waking and poorer quality of sleep. Instead, opt for calming herbal teas or warm milk… with this caveat. If you are having to get up in the middle of the night to empty your bladder, you may want to experiment with what time is wisest to have your latest liquid. It may take a few nights to figure out what time your “last liquid deadline”.
  • Fuel your body wisely. What you eat and drink affects your sleep. Avoid heavy meals close to bedtime. A full stomach is uncomfortable and can impede sleep. Limit sugary or caffeinated drinks, especially in the afternoon and evening. Caffeine is highly disruptive of sleep.
  • Minimise your stress levels. Stress is a major sleep thief. Identify and address stress-inducing factors in your life. Delegate tasks, practice mindfulness, say no to unreasonable demands, and prioritise activities that bring you joy. Taking care of your mental well-being paves the way for a good night’s sleep.
  • Celebrate little improvements. Overhauling your sleep habits is a gradual process. Be patient with yourself and celebrate small victories. Each night you fall asleep a little sooner or wake up feeling more refreshed is a step in the right direction. Focus on building healthy sleep habits for long-term success, and remember, even a few good nights can make a world of difference to your energy levels and overall well-being.

Sleep is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. By incorporating the above simple yet effective hacks into your daily routine, you can make restful nights and revitalised mornings, much more common for you. 

A good night’s sleep is the best and most immediately beneficial investment you can make in your health and happiness. People with the best sleep tend to have better mental health.

Consistency is the key. Stick to your new sleep hygiene routines for long enough to find what works best for you. With trial and error, dedication and patience, you figure out what sleep hygiene techniques will enable you to enjoy truly restful nights.

If you have tried the techniques above and are still struggling with persistent insomnia, consult with a healthcare professional. They can rule out underlying medical conditions and suggest additional methods for a good night’s sleep.

Which techniques will you use tonight?

Professor Nigel MacLennan runs the performance coaching practice PsyPerform.


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