There’s nothing better than a good night’s sleep – and when you have mental ill-health, you’ll know that sometimes nights of good sleep are few and far between. The good news is that there are plenty of different elements that can have a positive impact on the quality of your sleep. So without further ado, here are 5 simple, tried-and-tested things you can do to sleep better.
1. Listen to white noise
A constant soothing sound can help you fall asleep and sleep through the night. In fact, it’s scientifically proven that this soothing sound can mask the ambient noise that distracts your brain from falling asleep and helps you sleep through the night. Examples of white noise include the gentle hum of a fan, an inexpensive white noise machine, or a dedicated playlist on a music streaming app like Spotify. If you don’t want to go to sleep with it on all night, consider playing white noise in the lead up to your bedtime for 20 minutes, as part of your routine.
2. Meditate, meditate, meditate
Meditating has long been used as a relaxation technique. Believed to have originated in India more than 2,000 years ago, this ancient practice can bring silence and peace to the mind and body by breaking the train of your thoughts and distractions in the mind and helping to lower the heart rate. If you’ve given meditating a shot in the past and found it difficult to concentrate and focus, consider trying a free meditation app. This will guide you through the process and help you build a healthy habit.
3. Say ‘no’ to blue light
Our lives are certainly richer for being more connected to the world through our phones, tablets and computers – and we pay for it by a lack of quality sleep. The blue light that emits from screens can trick our body into thinking it’s daytime and that we should be awake. The good news is that many devices now have ‘night’ settings that reduce the amount of blue light they emit, to help your body prepare for bedtime.
4. Reduce caffeine and stimulants
When we think of caffeine, the first thing that comes to mind is coffee. While we all know it’s not ideal to have coffee after 3pm if we’re in need of a good night’s sleep, we sometimes forget that caffeine is often found in tea, chocolate and soft drink. Alcohol, large meals, and very spicy food can also get in the way of our rest, by increasing our heart rate, among other things. If you’re having trouble sleeping, consider cutting back on your intake of these stimulants in the evenings.
5. Exercise for the win
One of the best ways to improve your sleep – particularly the deep sleep phase, which helps heart health, keeps your immune system in check and controls anxiety – is to engage in physical activity. As little as 30 minutes of exercise five days a week can make a difference on your sleep quality. Exercising outside where possible can make a difference as it helps your body clock.
While exercise should be part of your day, it’s important to remember that it energises and stimulates you and can delay your body from going to sleep if you exercise too close to bedtime. If the night is the only time that works for you, consider a short walk around the block or some gentle yoga rather than activity that gets your heart racing.
For any exercise inspiration, check out our article about the benefits of cardio. Alternatively, if you’re looking for something a little more gentle why not try our easy 5min yoga sequence that you can do at home.