New parents spend so much time focusing on getting baby to sleep that they often forget about themselves! It’s essential for any adult to have a healthy sleep routine, so follow these tips to ensure you wake up each morning feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day!
First of all, sleeping in the proper environment is vital for getting a good night’s rest. Noise, temperature, light and sleeping surface can all affect the quality of your sleep. Other factors include a snoring partner and electronics such as a TV or computer in your bedroom. Our sleep patterns are largely regulated by light and darkness. During daytime, bright outdoor or bright indoor light is a powerful regulator of our biological clock making us feel alert, so in order to create the best conditions for sleep, make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible – use black out curtains or find a way to block out any light coming around your blinds. With all the street lights and brightly lit buildings in Hong Kong, it’s difficult to get a really dark room without blackouts of some sort!
Late night working on a computer, Ipad or other similar device or watching TV just before bed is not a great idea as studies have shown that the blue light emitted from these screens artificially keeps your body awake, suppressing melatonin (the sleep hormone) and therefore making it more difficult to get to sleep. As an average, temperatures above 24 degrees C are known to disrupt sleep to some extent, so be sure to have your room temp set at or below this level (18-22 degrees C) and your bedding fairly light. Most sleep clinics recommend a cooler room for getting better sleep.
More and more research is also showing that meditation and mindfulness (keeping focused on the present moment) can help quiet your mind, reduce the chatter in your brain and allow you to “switch off” when it’s time to sleep. We need periods of quiet in our life to counteract the fast pace of our daily routine and keep us feeling balanced and at our best!
Tips for a good night’s sleep:
- Aim for your bedroom’s purpose to be for sleep, quiet reading and relaxation
- Finish eating at least a couple of hours before bedtime, so your digestive system is not working overtime while you’re trying to sleep. Avoid caffeine or sweet, sugary foods as your last food of the day – it stimulates your system and can make it more difficult to fall asleep. And while one glass of wine may relax you in the evening, excessive alcohol is known to disrupt sleep later in the night.
- Have a regular routine for the 30-60 mins before bed. This should include relaxing activities as part of your ‘wind down’ process to prepare your body and brain for sleep.
- Finish working on your computer, laptop or tablet at least one hour before bed. Keep these devices in another room, not in your bedroom.
- Aim to go to bed at around the same time each night including weekends if possible as this helps keep your circadian rhythms stable.
- Create dark, cool conditions for sleep; use earplugs or white noise if snoring or environmental noise is an issue.
- If you wake up in the middle of the night, avoid turning on bright lights as this is likely to wake up your body, thinking its daytime. Use a max 20W night light if you need to get up.
- Avoid lie-ins on the weekend as this starts to change your body clock and can make it difficult to feel sleepy enough on a Sunday night to get enough rest before the week starts again.
- If you’re exhausted during the day, take a short nap of 30 minutes in the early afternoon. This strategy seems to work better than having a lie-in as it doesn’t throw off your sleep-wake rhythm so much. Remember to set your alarm, so you don’t sleep longer! If you can’t fall asleep easily that night, even with a short nap, eliminate the napping.
- Ensure your mattress is supportive and comfortable. Pillows too, can have an effect on your quality of sleep – find one that works for your sleep position and feels comfortable and supportive for your head and neck.
- Build some quiet time into your schedule every day, even if only for 15 minutes, to take some deep breaths, look around you and feel in the present moment.
- Calm and gentle music – instrumental, low tempo and without lyrics – helps us to relax and quiet the mind. Use this music only for sleep so it becomes a ritual that you associate with sleep.
- Travelling through time zones and the subsequent jet lag is known to disrupt sleep for a period of time; sticking to a good bedtime routine and moving yourself gradually into the new time zone along with avoiding naps will help you transition more smoothly.