Poor sleep is a massive problem in our society today. It affects millions of people across the world. Getting a good night’s sleep is not just about how many hours you’re getting, it’s also about the quality of that sleep. How restorative it is and how rested you are during your sleep. A study by ABC Life, indicates that the average adult gets 7 hours of sleep per day. 12% of us are getting fewer than 5 ½ hours, while about 8% of us are getting over 9 hours. Where do you sit with this?
In addition, it showed that not many of us are getting the ‘right sleep’.
Between 33% and 45% of people say their sleep is inadequate. Inadequate means their sleep is lacking in either duration or quality, resulting in daytime consequences. That’s ⅓ to ½ of us. That’s a big deal!
Why is getting a good night’s sleep important?
As a Coach and Healer, I work primarily with leaders. I’ve noticed that poor sleep patterns and sleep disorders affect the majority of my clients.
Sleep patterns contribute significantly to our moods, energy, relationships, and our physical, mental, and emotional health & well-being.
When we are more rested and get good quality sleep, it makes sense that we are a lot more productive, effective, engaged, and focused. In addition, it:
- Reduces stress
- Improves your mood
- Increases energy levels
- Strengthens relationships (because we get along better with people)
- Helps to control weight
- Improves motor memory
- Lowers your risk for serious health problems, like diabetes and heart disease
- Strengthens the immune system
- Means we get sick less often
- Decreases inflammation in the body
- Keeps your heart healthy
- Keeps blood sugar consistent
- Helps with hormonal balance
- Helps you think more clearly and do better at work or school
- Improves brain performance
As you can see, having a great night’s sleep has the potential to dramatically improve the all-around quality of your life.
How do you sleep?
I strongly encourage you to take some time to explore your own sleep habits and cycles. Even if you’re already a good sleeper, there’s typically room for more improvement.
Firstly, look at your sleep patterns:
- Are you getting enough adequate sleep? Yes or No?
- What are your thoughts about your sleep quality or duration?
- Does your sleep have daytime consequences? What are they?
It’s my intent as you read this article that you will actively engage with it. Get out your pen and paper, and take notes. Highlight the tips and ideas that resonate with you. The ones that you would like to implement or explore further.
If you’re taking the time to read this, it’s obviously important to you, so make the most of it.
20 Sleeping Tips for a better night’s sleep
Since researching this topic, I’m pleased to confirm that my own sleep quality has definitely improved. A quick shout-out to Jim Kwik, as several of these tips are from his course Accessing your SuperBrain, which I completed with MindValley (highly recommend).
Here is what I’ve discovered:
1. Remove all light
Even the ambient light on the clock radio or the dot on a TV can affect your sleep. Make sure the lights are out. If your curtains do not eliminate daylight fully, you can purchase an eye mask and keep it within reach. They are a few dollars online and work well in the morning when the sun is rising and you’re not ready to wake up. My mask is a lovely black velvet and has a nice thick elastic that is not tight and sits very comfortably.
2. Moderate room temperature
The optimal room temperature for sleep should be between 18 to 20 degrees Celsius (64.4-68 Fahrenheit). Either side of this temperature can disturb your sleep rhythms and wake you up more often. Remember ‒ not too hot, not too cold.
The weight of your bedcovers can be used to moderate the temperature you sleep at. Many blankets and doonas these days have warmth ratings on the packaging. If you are waking up too hot or too cold, consider having a winter doona and a lighter weight summer doona, with an optional extra blanket as the weather changes seasons.
3. Do not work in your bedroom
The bedroom is for sleep and play. Your bedroom is a place to relax, it’s for sleep and for enjoyment. It’s not a place for work. Your mind needs to be able to switch off from work mode when you’re in your bedroom. This is especially challenging for many teens and young adults who have desks in their bedrooms.
4. Learn healthy ways to process emotional pain and turmoil
Research indicates that 75-90% of disease is caused by stress. The body stores trapped emotions. They build up in the body and affect us psychosomatically and physically.
Generally, we have been raised to bury our emotions, avoid them, and shut them down. We are not taught to feel. When we sleep our mind continues to process this built-up energy and emotional stress. When you do emotional healing work, like Self Directed Healing, it processes and releases this trapped energy so it leaves your body. The result is that your mind and body calm down, relax more, enabling a better night’s sleep.
I have worked with a number of clients who have sleep apnea. From an emotional healing perspective, we focus on the trapped emotions, limiting beliefs, and old wounds.
5. Work towards healing your trauma and grief
Sometimes disruptive sleep patterns are caused by unprocessed trauma and grief cycles that have not been healed. If you are waking with panic attacks, anxiety, nightmares, etc., explore Self Directed Healing, it is very effective for this.
6. Get off all electrical devices
No technology before bedtime or when you first wake. 2 hours before bed, and 1 hour when you wake up. Technology is proven to affect the brain, stimulating your mind and making it harder to fall asleep.
Electronic media use has been consistently linked with delayed bedtime and shortened sleep, as well as increased night waking. Sounds and blinking lights can also cause unwanted awakenings when sleeping next to electronics.
7. Put your mobile phone out of reach
Having your phone right next to the bed is not ideal. Where else can it go?
Electronic back-lit devices like cell phones, tablets, readers, and computers emit short-wavelength enriched light, also known as blue light. The blue light emitted by your cell phone screen restrains the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle (aka circadian rhythm). This makes it even more difficult to fall asleep and wake up the next day.
At night, the light throws the body’s biological clock—the circadian rhythm—out of whack and our sleep suffers (Harvard Medical School).
8. Install light filters on your devices and consider looking at glasses
Many mobiles and devices now have apps you can install with light filters.
Blue-blocking glasses, also known as amber glasses, are plastic glasses that primarily block blue light. These glasses have been studied and proven as a successful intervention for reducing sleep onset latency in people with sleep disorders, jet lag, insomnia, delayed sleep phase, and variable shift work schedules. National Library of Medicine National Library of Medicine ‒ May 2021
9. Take regular breaks from your devices
Come up with a plan, don’t just read on. Write down some times that would work well in your schedule to take a rest break or change the pace. Stretching or a quick walk is very beneficial. If needed, set yourself up for success by adding reminders to your phone, or diary, especially in the beginning when you are creating a new habit, you need to remind yourself.
Studies show that exercise improves how you sleep at night. Research also indicates that the optimal time to exercise for improved sleep is 7.30 am. However, we are all different and work to different schedules. Any exercise is going to be beneficial.
11. Learn to understand your sleep patterns
There are many apps and devices available that monitor sleep. My Fitbit watch is fabulous. One of the functions it offers is a sleep tracker. It clearly tells me how long I’ve actually slept, not just how long you are in bed. Plus, it measures the amount of time I have in each of the 4 different sleep cycles ‒ Deep, REM, Light, and Awake.
It gives me an overall score based on the quality of sleep I’ve had, out of 100. You can look at oxygen variations, sleeping heart rates, and restlessness. It’s priceless information. Once you have an average sleep score to work with, your goal can be to consistently improve it until you are fully optimised and then work to keep it stable. Currently, my personal goal is to consistently be above a score of 82 and ideally above 85. I can totally feel the difference when I’ve rated below 80 for a couple of nights in a row. It affects my productivity, focus, and energy levels and is my ‘warning bell’ to make some changes.
12. Drink plenty of water
Hydration is fundamental to our wellbeing. Our bodies transmute a lot of energy. When our bodies are hydrated it responds much better to the messages it carries. Water quality also plays a role, I’d recommend filtered still water.
Interestingly and paradoxically, when your body is dehydrated it is more likely to give you a wake-up call for the bathroom during the night. Plus our brains are made up of 80% water and they will dehydrate overnight. When you first wake up in the morning, drink lots of water, and continue to keep your water intake up throughout the day, your body needs it.
13. Breathwork … 4-7-8
If you struggle to get to sleep or find yourself wide awake during the night, the 4-7-8 is a great breathing technique. It’s used by the navy seals. You breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 7, and breathe out for 8 counts.
Studies indicate it can reduce depression and anxiety, improve sleep quality, reduce stress levels, improve motor memory and improve pain processing. Pretty cool!
- Close your mouth and quietly inhale through your nose to a mental count of 4.
- Hold your breath for a count of 7.
- Exhale through your mouth, making a whoosh sound for a count of 8.
- Repeat the process three more times for a total of 4 breath cycles.
I use this when I find myself restless and awake during the night. I’ve found it takes focus and practice. The focus is effective because it shifts your mind from the many thoughts whirling in your head to your breathing and slows everything down. Usually, I fall asleep doing this, so for me, it works.
There are many calming, restorative, sleep meditations available online. Look them up and create a favorites list that you can quickly and easily access when you’re tired.
15. Natural products
There are many natural and healthy products on the market. Vitamins, magnesium, teas, etc. Do your homework, and look at the research ‒ don’t just go by what the label says, as marketing can be deceptive.
16. Avoid sleeping tablets
Sleeping tablets are not a long-term solution because they don’t address the causes of your sleeping problems or insomnia. It’s a temporary bandaid, not a solution.
17. Limit caffeine
Too much caffeine, particularly in the evening, can cause insomnia. Limit caffeinated drinks to four or less per day, and avoid these types of drinks after dinner.
18. Go online, get curious and look
We are in the digital age, so use this to your advantage. My list is not exhaustive so hop online and find resources you like, try them out. See what works for you. Save them and keep at it.
Check out https://thesleepdoctor.com/
19. Create better routines and habits
- What do you typically do right before bedtime?
- Is it restful and does it help you unwind and get ready for a good night’s sleep?
- Would it work better to change around some of these routines?
- Are you staying up too late? I find if I go to bed at a certain time I sleep better. Once I stay up beyond this time, it’s more likely to affect my sleep quality. I’ve learned to pay attention and listen more to my body and go to bed when it tells me to, instead of staying up that bit later.
20. Create goals for improving your sleep and take consistent action
Make a plan. Pick a couple of tips that resonate with you and start there. What would you like to improve, by when, and how? Include action steps and methods of measuring. How will you know if you’ve succeeded?
Consistent action will get results. Small consistent changes and tweaks gather momentum over time. Keep at it and don’t give up. If something doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter, it’s all feedback. Keep going.
As you can see there are so many different things you can do to enhance your sleep. This information is not exhaustive. You will easily find more online.
Do it differently. Just because you’ve always had trouble sleeping doesn’t mean it can’t change. It means the chemicals and neurons in your brain need to shift. The trapped emotions in your body need to release. You need to create a new healthier pattern/cycle in your body.
Listen to your inner dialogue. Is the record you’re playing telling you:
“I’m a terrible sleeper”
“I can’t sleep” or something along those lines.
“I’m working to improve my sleeping all the time”
“It’s possible to improve my sleep”
“I can do it”
“I’m learning to be a better sleeper”.
It isn’t about trying everything all at once. It’s about selecting a few tips that you relate to and having a go. Small consistent action in the right direction gets momentum. Then come back, revisit this list, and try something else. Keep going, keep improving.
What you focus on is what you get. Would you prefer to focus on how terribly you sleep, or how you are working to improve your sleep habits and patterns?
Always remember to celebrate your successes, no matter how small. It helps us to feel good about ourselves.
Just know, it’s totally possible to improve your sleep patterns, no matter how ingrained they are.
Creating Change’s work is focused on tapping into our full potential and living our best life. Getting a good night’s sleep is a crucial element in this.
I trust you’ve gained value from this article.
To see more of our content check out our website ChristyRobertsCoaching.com. There are a number of free resources, blogs, and events available.
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I’m curious, which tip are you going to implement first?
Christy Roberts – Creating Change
Award winning Coach, Healer & Educator