10 tips to better kips
By Amy Roberts – Sleep Consultant
Work and sleep are interconnected – we all know that a bad nights sleep can mean a long, hard day in the office. At Huddle, we want to make sure our members are feeling fresh and ready for the day. We spoke with Sleep Consultant Amy Roberts to get her 10 best tips for a good nights kip. Read on to find out more…
It’s safe to say we all know how we feel after a bad night’s sleep and how much more energy we feel like we have after a good night’s kip. But modern, busy lifestyles and stress all too often compete with achieving the latter. No matter how much sleep you think you’re getting, if you’re not getting good quality sleep, you’re still probably going to wake up feeling fatigued and not at all energised to face the day ahead.
So, below are my 10 quick-win, easy steps to improve your sleep so you have more energy in the day.
Step 1 – Write down or talk about your worries or concerns
One of the biggest barriers to good sleep, has to be lying awake worrying about things. Anxiety and sleep can be a bit of a catch-22 – sleep deprivation can worsen any underlying anxiety and anxiety can worsen your sleep.
So, carve out a bit of time at the end of the day to either discuss any worries you’ve got (however big or small) with someone you feel comfortable confiding in, or jot them down on a piece of paper. Journaling can be a hugely cathartic process and doesn’t have to take up a lot of time. You can also leave a notepad and pen by your bed in case any worries manage to niggle their way into your sleep – without the need to look at your phone to make a note of them.
As well as jotting down any worries, it’s a really good exercise to note down three or more good things that happened that day (again, however big or small). At the end of the week you’ll have a list of at least 21 good things that happened that week and if you keep it up, over 150 by the end of the year. So however hard a week (or year) may have seemed, you’ll have some positives to reflect on.
Step 2 – Try and add exercise into your daily routine
I know you already know this, but you can’t underestimate the benefits of exercise on improving your sleep and helping your mental health. When we exercise we release endorphins, helping relieve stress and when we’re less stressed we sleep better. Also, by the end of the day we want to be physically as well as mentally tired for good quality sleep.
If you’re struggling with anxiety as well, why not try yoga or pilates as your exercise of choice and tick two things off your list at once.
If this isn’t for you, incorporating exercise outside in some broad spectrum daylight with something like a jog for example is ideal. This daylight really helps anchor the body clock and improve your sleep.
Step 3 – Reduce screen use
This is a must in the few hours before bed, as the light emitted plays havoc with the sleepy hormone being produced to help you get to sleep. So really try to not be flicking through your phone in the lead up to bed, or worse still be looking at your phone in bed.
Less looking at your phone has the added bonus of less social media scrolling. I’m not suggesting you don’t interact with social media, but do try and stick to the accounts that make you feel good about yourself and unfollow the ones which are detrimental to your mental health.
Step 4 – Take a supplement
We’ve all been trapped indoors more than we would have liked over the last year and although nutrient deficiency in the Western world is pretty rare – given deficiency in vitamin D can be associated with sleep problems (particularly not falling asleep until later), it’s a good supplement to introduce into your daily routine if you don’t already.
Step 5 – Listen to a meditation/relaxation track or music before bed
This is one of my main go-to’s if I’m ever struggling with my own sleep. There are so many amazing apps available these days you can download and listen to, they don’t need to be long, but they can really help you switch off and zone out before bed. The relaxation techniques can also be something you tap into at night if you do wake and are struggling to fall back to sleep.
Step 6 – Try to eat and go to bed at similar times every day
I know how hard this can be, but it’s definitely something to strive for. Our body clock works on a cellular level and keeping these things consistent really helps anchor it contributing to a good night’s sleep.
You know too well how difficult it can be to fall asleep when you’ve been out for a heavy meal and go to bed much later, so just something worth considering doing as more of a once in a while, than an everyday kind of thing.
Step 7 – Keep your room for sleep only
I’m fully aware you might be getting up to some non-sleep related activities in the bedroom – what I’m talking about is avoiding spending long periods of time in bed doing non sleep related activities – such as reading, watching TV or looking at your phone. Spending too long awake in your bedroom without actually being asleep, can build some negative associations, so is best avoided.
If you like to read in bed for example, why not set up a comfy space with some low lighting in the living room instead, only moving into bed when you actually feel ready to fall asleep.
Step 8 – Make sure your bedroom is pitch black and a good temperature
I have blackout blinds in every bedroom in the house. I genuinely couldn’t live without them and I still sleep with something over my eyes to make sure it is pitch black! So a definite quick win if you’re sensitive to light as we move through spring and into summer, is to consider how dark your bedroom is and incorporate something to help if it isn’t to avoid any early wake ups.
Also think about room temperature, 16-18 degrees is ideal. We need to achieve a slight drop in body temperature to fall asleep, so being too hot isn’t helpful and clearly if we’re too chilly it will also be difficult to fall asleep.
Step 9 – Don’t be tempted to have a lie in on the weekend to catch up on sleep
I know your weekend can be an ideal time to catch up on sleep and have a much desired lie in, but again this really messes with your body clock. Easier said than done, I know, but you’d be better off having a short restorative nap in the day if you can to catch up on some sleep and keep your wake up time similar 7 days a week instead. So why not try using your weekends for a short nap instead of a lie in from now on.
Step 10 – Limit caffeine, alcohol and any fatty foods in the hours before bed
Don’t hate me for saying this, but if you’re really struggling with sleep, you need to take a step back and think about what you’re putting into your body which might be interfering. I know you all know the results of these things before bed, so I’ll just leave it here as a gentle reminder that limiting, or better still eliminating these things, really will make a difference.
Instead, really try and concentrate on incorporating a rainbow diet into your day as best you can, in the knowledge that we all need a few treats as well now and then!
If you’ve got a family and are struggling with sleep and would like some support to achieve more sleep for the whole family then please do check out my sleep support package for children, or hop on your free 15 minute introductory call. Or in the meantime, head over to my Instagram page for all my latest free help and tips.