by Myrthe Wieler
1. What are you sleeping on?
Before you start looking at your routine, stress levels etc., first make sure that the place where you spend a large proportion of your time is supportive! Many good backs and sleep patterns have been ruined by a bad mattress and pillow. You need different kinds of pillows if you tend to sleep on your front or side than on your back, so it pays to get advice next time you’re replacing them.
In the evening
2. Avoid stimulants:
In order to ensure that you get to sleep, avoid coffee, red wine, sugar and chocolate before bedtime. Coffee, wine and chocolate may be disturbing your sleep and upsetting your digestive system. Also, look out for the less obvious stimulants such as chillis, ginger and black pepper.
3. Go to bed happy!
There is nothing worse than having an unresolved dispute with a partner, family member or friend before going to bed. To avoid spending hours awake ruminating over an argument, make a decision with loved ones not to discuss ‘serious’ issues just before you go to / while you’re in bed.
4. Keep a notebook by your bed
If your thoughts are disturbing or prohibiting sleep, write them down. If you’re thinking of all the things you have to do, make an action list for the morning.
5. Activate your relaxation response consciously
Yoga can be very helpful in promoting the relaxation response. Asana practice and relaxation techniques both work.
Bedtime yoga is a wonderful way to calm the body and mind. Slow, steady, meditative and restorative flows can do wonders.
- Yoga for better sleep programme: 10 bedtime classes designed to help improve your sleep, clear your mind and calm the body.
- Bedtime practice for deep sleep
Leave your day behind with this soothing practice that will help you balance your nervous system and your brain. Experience deeper peace and quiet that will help you drift off into a deep and blissful sleep. Excellent after a busy or stressful day.
6. Time your meals and drinks
Try not to eat a large meal before going to bed. If your body has to work hard to digest your food you may have trouble getting to sleep and it can also leave you feeling sluggish in the morning. If you can’t avoid eating late, choose foods which are easy to digest. Likewise, keep yourself well hydrated through the day so that you don’t get thirsty but limit fluids just before you go to bed – unless you enjoy those midnight treks to the toilet!
7. Keep your room calm and tidy
You don’t have to be a clean freak but try not to have too much clutter in your bedroom. It should be an ‘oasis of calm’ as much as possible. If you have space, have a separate walk-in wardrobe where your clutter can hide. A hectic room can lead to light and/or interrupted sleep.
During the night
8. Manage your body temperature
Your sleep is greatly affected by being too hot or too cold. Try breathable duvets and nightwear until you find the right balance. Use layers you can shake off in the night if you need to.
9. Keep your window open
It may be the last thing you feel like doing on a cold winter’s night but it’s great to have fresh air circulating through your bedroom. It will also help you feel more energized in the morning when your room is full of fresh air.
10. Consistency is key
As long as you keep your bedtime consistent (mostly) during the week you will start to wake up happier and healthier. Our bodies love routine! Start setting your alarm clock for the same time every day… even at the weekends.
11. Noise pollution
Are you affected by noise? Sometimes without even realizing it, noise could be disturbing your sleep. I grew up in the country where noise rarely disturbed my sleep – apart from the odd cow 🙂 When I moved to the city, traffic and the normal city sounds really disturbed my sleep. This is when I discovered earplugs. My sleep improved dramatically after that!
In the morning:
12. Breathe and stretch
When you wake up, take three deep breaths and stretch your whole body. This will kick-start your body into waking up.
13. Don’t hit snooze!
Get up as soon as you hear that alarm clock. Don’t hit snooze for those unsatisfying short hops back into slumber. Just pull back the covers and stand up (easier said than done, I know!).
14. Be excited
You have been given another day on this planet!
Drinking water on an empty stomach helps to wake you up and refresh you on the inside! Now make sure that it’s not too cold. Slightly below room temperature is ideal.
16. Morning exercise
Morning exercise stimulates your body. You will feel more energized when you do things like yoga, or going for a run or a walk in the morning air. You could try our programme 21 Mornings with Yoga and discover the benefits of morning yoga!
17. Try to cut down on caffeine
That morning cup of coffee starts to have less and less effect on you. Your body builds a resistance to the dehydrating drink so you have to start drinking it more and more. Instead, cut down, so when and if you feel particularly groggy on a morning that cup of coffee will have the right effect on you.