Is there anything worse than lying in bed feeling so tired, but being unable to nod off? All that twisting and turning, it’s hell!
I have had more than my fair share of sleepless nights! I’ll be up blogging into the late hours and then when I finally get to bed, I can’t drift off because my head is still buzzing. Instead I’ll find myself constantly looking over at the clock and counting down how many hours of sleep I’ll get if I’m lucky enough to nod off at that very moment! It’s head-wrecking!
Well I was tired of hearing the same old sleep advice (drink warm milk, have a warm bath, ensure the room is not too hot or too cold, etc) so I decided to put together a list of a few interesting and effective tips that will help you get a good quality night sleep.
Tip 1: The 4-7-8 Technique
I read this great piece of advice from Dr Andrew Weil, an American medical practitioner and holistic health expert.
1. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise.
2. Now exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
3. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
4. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
5. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound again, this time to a count of eight.
6. This is regarded as being one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
The 4-7-8 technique really does help you to relax and nod off, mainly because it forces you to focus on the breathing and the breathing alone. All other distractions are put to one side. It also allows more oxygen to fill the lungs, which can in turn induce a state of deep calm and sleep
Tip 2: MP3
I mentioned this in my book ‘SoSueMe – What Happened Next’ because it’s a tip that works. Download a hypnosis/meditation MP3 to your iPod, stick in the earphones and close your eyes. If you buy a really good track, it will relax you so much that you will nod off.
Look for a hypnosis MP3 or CD that will help you with a problem you’re experiencing (confidence, public speaking, smoking, etc) and the meditative aspect of it will help you enjoy a deep sleep as well. Two birds, one stone! If you are listening to a hypnosis MP3, you will almost definitely nod off mid way during the track, but that’s ok! The hypnosis message will still be absorbed by the brain even when you are asleep!
Glenn Harold is famous for his deeply relaxing hypnosis tracks.
Tip 3: Aromatherapy Oils
A few drops of a sleep-friendly oil on your pillow (or at the top of your duvet) should help you nod off. Sleep friendly oils would include cedarwood, lavender, sandalwood, ylang ylang, Roman chamomile, and frankincense. (In case you are wondering if Roman chamomile is different to just chamomile in general, well it seems there are a few different types of chamomile to be got, but Roman chamomile is the best one for relaxation and sleep.)
If you don’t want to sprinkle the drops on your pillow, you can also rub them into your shoulders, soles of your feet, and on the back of your neck. Alternatively, you can sprinkle some into the palm of your hands, then cup them together and inhale the scent. Just make sure first that the oils are safe for using on the skin.
I always love a hot bath with some de-stress oils and it really works for me.
Tip 4. Gentle yoga
Exercise before bedtime is not advised as it stimulates the brain and makes it very difficult to wind down and relax, however there is one exception! There are a number of gentle yoga poses that will help you sleep better. Here is one pose famed for its relaxing benefits:
The leg-wall pose
This is such an easy pose, but also one of the most relaxing. When I read up on it a bit more, I found out that it helps circulation, it reduces edema in the legs as well as relieve tired leg muscles. It also helps relax the mind!
To achieve this pose, just lie on your back and place your legs on the wall in front of you so that the backs of your legs are resting comfortably against it.
If you wish, you can place a pillow under your hips so that they are raised slightly. This is an even more relaxing version of this pose.
Keep your arms by your side with your palms facing up. Close your eyes (use an eye mask if you wish) and focus on your breathing. Aim to remain in this pose for between 10-15 minutes, or however long you feel comfortable enough with.
It’s all about winding down the mind.
Tip 5. Grapefruit juice and Lemongrass tea
There are certain foods and drinks that can help you achieve a good night of sleep. Lemongrass tea is one. Chamomile has long been known to help people relax, but it’s not to everyone’s taste. There are so many out there, it’s a matter of trial and error until you find the one that works for you. Another sleep-friendly drink would include grapefruit juice.
A calcium deficiency could also be the reason you are finding it difficult to sleep, so watch what you eat and try to increase your intake of calcium rich foods. If you like juices, look for recipes that include things like kale, tomato, cherries as all these are excellent for sleep.
Tip 6. Cut out artificial light
This means the phone! This is the hardest tip, but it’s also the most important one. The light from the phone/laptop/iPad tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime and as a result, your brain doesn’t get the wind-down time it needs in order to ensure you enjoy a good quality night’s sleep.
Try turning off the laptop and leaving the phone down 2-3 hours before you go to sleep. Personally, I find this one so difficult. I’m always picking up my phone to check my emails and social media feeds, and half of the time, it’s out of sheer habit!
If other sources of light are creeping into your room, whether it be from street lamps, cars, etc, buy a good eye mask. The brain can sense light even when you are fast asleep, and this in turn, can disrupt the quality of sleep you get, so wear an eye mask or invest in black out curtains, and you will find it makes a huge difference.
Let me know if you have any sleep tips of your own!