7 tips for better sleep
By Paula Mitten, owner of Durga yoga studio
Do you need a better nights sleep? Do you struggle to get to sleep or perhaps you can fall asleep but have trouble staying asleep? Well you are not alone! According to womenshealth.gov, 1 in 4 women suffer with some symptoms of insomnia and 1 in 7 adults have chronic insomnia.
There are many reasons why woman suffer from insomnia but if you find it difficult to get a good nights sleep then there are lots of things that you can do to help. Here are my top 7 tips for better sleep:
1. Reduced screen time before bed: Whether it's computers, smart phones or TV, the blue light from these devices can disturb your natural body clock and interfere with your sleep patterns. Make a rule that all electronic gadgets get switched off at least 1 hour before bedtime to allow your body to begin winding down for sleep.
2. Use essential oils to encourage relaxation: Fragrant, natural ingredients have been used throughout history to help heal and improve health. Essential oils are the aroma of plants that can benefit your body and mind. Many of these oils help to relax the nervous system so putting a few drops of your favourite oil into water in your oil burner could be the key to a better nights sleep. Some of the oils that are recommended for insomnia are chamomile, mandarin, sandlewood and rose, to name but a few. If you are pregnant it is important to research the essential oils that are safe to use during pregnancy as many oils are not recommended for pregnant women.
3. Soft lighting: If lighting is very bright it can energise and awaken your body and mind. Exposure to artificial light can effect your melatonin levels (a natural hormone which helps regulate your sleep cycle). As we all use artificial lighting in our homes before bed time, choose your lighting carefully. Go for a light that gives off a soft dim glow rather than a bright stimulating light, to help your body wind down naturally in preparation for better sleep.
4. Chamomile tea: It is widely believed that a small cup of chamomile tea sipped slowly 30 minutes before bed can help to induce sleep. It is caffeine free so it's better than black tea before bed and often the ritual of making tea can be as relaxing as drinking the tea itself!
5. Take a relaxing soak in the bath: Many people find that spending time relaxing in a bubble bath before bed time can help the mind to switch off. Take time to light some candles, dim the lights and play your favourite gentle music for the full spa experience.
6. Gentle yoga exercises: Spend 15-20 minutes on your yoga mat doing very gentle stretches and slow movements to help with a better nights sleep. Avoid anything stimulating and stay close to the ground. Rather than doing anything too strengthening think more about unraveling the body's connective tissues at the end of your busy day.
7. Relaxation techniques: Before bedtime lie down for 5 minutes and let your body come to stillness. Imagine every cell of your being sinking down into the floor beneath you. Take time to notice your natural breath and allow it to slow down a little without making any real effort. Feel the rise and fall of your chest with each breath as it slows down and begin to allow your whole body to soften and relax, from your face right the way down to your feet. If thoughts pop into the mind just let them drift off again. If you prefer to be guided into a relaxation try this short relaxation
By introducing some of these tips into your bedtime routine you will find that over time your sleep will improve. Don't expect an instant “fix” and let go of any expectations. Just pick a few of the suggestions above and make them part of a routine that you do every night for the next month. If, after a month, you are enjoying the benefits continue with the routine but if you're not sure whether it is working don't give up on it too soon. You may be changing habits of a lifetime which will take some time and dedication. Listen to Paula Mitten speaking about creating better sleep patterns on here weekly Facebook live “10am chats with Paula” Enjoy the journey to better sleep and if you would like help with some gentle yoga and relaxation routines you can book a private yoga class with Paula from Durga Yoga Studio, who is an expert in her field.