4 Ways Mindfulness & Planning Can Drastically Improve Your Sleep
As many of my clients come with the common issue of having trouble sleeping, I have decided to dedicate this article to the basic tips many need to adopt to get peaceful rest.
Sadly enough, for way too many of us, waking up in the morning refreshed from a long enough sleep is easier said than done. We often plan to go to sleep at the right time, knowing the number of hours we want to sleep. But life happens and we end up going to sleep later than we meant to or with our mind and body not quite ready for it. And this is where most of my clients go wrong before I come in and coach them. They may even book the right amount of hours, but their body and mind are not ready for the restful time.
Here’s how to make most of your bedtime.
SEE ALSO: Buddha’s 6 Rules Of Love
1) Figure out for yourself how many hours you need
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many of my clients try to ‘tweak’ the amount of hours their body needs to cram in more work, watch a TV series, do homework with their kids or do some self-development.
Simply try out different hours. It’s usually around 7 to 8, but many people need 9. Yes, 9 hours. Some need just 5 and a half. And, mind you, this number may change during certain periods; more for women than men, as we are cyclical beings. I, for instance, know that if I am going through a period with more clients and workshops, I will need close to 9 hours. On the other hand, during a week when I am doing more business development and see fewer people, my body may be completely happy with just 7 hours.
So go and play with it. And make sure to book ‘the bedtime’ to be able to fit the hours.
2) Don’t drink coffee or have caffeine between 4 – 5 PM
This may be something you may have heard from your mother already, and guess what? It’s true. Drinking coffee after 4 PM impairs your circadian rhythm and when the time to enter the Land of Nod comes, even though your mind may be ready, and you believe your body is too, your hormones are not.
I often hear, “Yeah, but I can fall asleep right after drinking coffee.” Yes, this can happen, and it actually means you have grown such resistance to coffee that your body can go into a relaxation mode. But that doesn’t mean your sleep will be any good. You will likely end up flowing in the lighter phases of sleep, which is why you wake up tired. And guess what you do? If you are thinking ‘have coffee’, then you are right. Coffee takes 24 hours to metabolize, so if you want to have a really good sleep you just need to treat coffee as a treat once or twice a week, not as nutrition. Or at least do yourself a favor and drink just one or two before 4 to 5 PM.
3) Don’t bring your to-dos to your pillow
We all often have a mind rattling with what hasn’t been done and what has to be done tomorrow. But to be able to fall asleep smoothly and have some nice shut-eye, you need to create a routine where you don’t bring your chore-filled mind to bed. Have a to-do list in your phone or on a piece of paper next to your sofa and before you go to sleep jot it all down. If you cannot manage before you get to bed, finish it as you lie down and stick it on your bedside table. This way you will get the impulse that there are no more mental ‘fights’ to engage in and you can peacefully drift off.
4) Create a bedtime routine
This may sound redundant to you, thinking of the time you should go to sleep when you’re tired, but the lack of a bedtime routine is the exact reason why your mind and body are not ready to sleep even though you think they should be. In a world where most of the day we operate in ‘fight or flight mode’, you need to give your mind and body the impulse to switch into ‘relax’ mode. And that can be done only if you gradually wind down and slowly let go off the duties, excitements, and threats of the world for the night.
In the last 90 min. before bedtime, start slowing down:
- Stop working and doing chores
- Dim the lights
- Draw the curtains/close shades
- Turn down the volume of your devices
- Do something that will calm you down like run a bath or use quality essential oils
- If you are looking at screens, make sure your red light filter is on.
- Take magnesium. It is proven to maintain healthy levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep. Research indicates supplemental magnesium can improve sleep quality.
30 min. before you hit the bed:
- Turn all lights off except your bedside tab. Include turning off WiFi routers, your TV and other devices that give off flickering lights.
- Ideally, spend the last 30 minutes of your waking time in bed reading.
- Keeping your electronic devices on is basically telling your brain the ‘fight’ is still on. So if you have trouble sleeping well, ditch this habit.
- Practice gratitude. Remember three things you are grateful for today.
Do you find yourself waking up at 3 AM? Try doing these to get back to sleep:
- Check with yourself and see what may be bothering you
- Make sure you do not turn any lights on if you have to go to the loo. Maybe get a little orange night light set up.
- Have a teaspoon of coconut oil, if hungry.
- Do some deep belly breathing, if stressed.
- Run a whole-body scan until you fall asleep again, if anxious.
- If worse comes to worse, jot down what bothers you. Though this is best done only with orange light (not to wake up your brain). You can also get a pair of funky orange night glasses.
And have the best sleep of your life!
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