Many of us regularly work from morning till night, cramming every minute full of activity. Family and work responsibilities, the expectations of friends, the hope of a few seconds respite for ourselves can all mean that every minute of the day is filled with meaningful activity. It’s no wonder that we then fall into bed at night, exhausted, mind racing, hoping that we’ll have a good night’s sleep.
Often though we may be restless, find it difficult to drift off to sleep or awaken during the night, wide awake and unable to go back to sleep after only a few fitful hours. Let’s look at how even busy people can negotiate with their lives and find ways to support a deep, refreshing good night’s sleep.
1. Learning to prioritize is a useful skill in a busy life.
Poor sleep often occurs when we work long hours or have too much on our minds. Prioritising introduces some discipline and order, helps us make the best use of our time. Lists can be an effective way of noting everything that needs to be done, then going through the list and clarifying the degree of urgency of each individual item.
2. Recognise your personal warning signs of becoming stressed and over tired.
I call them ‘amber lights’, the time when your mood changes and irritability, loss of sense of humour, poor concentration, feeling unwell start to occur. As you start to recognise when negative changes in your demeanour begin to encroach you can schedule in effective ways to take better care of yourself, have time out and reduce the impact of stress overload.
3. Establish balance in your life.
Poor sleep can occur when you are tired mentally but not physically, or vice versa. If you have work that requires significant mental effort, where you perhaps spend a lot of time indoors, try to ensure you have breaks where you engage in physical activity, spend time outdoors in nature. Use free time for gardening, walking along a beach, going for a run in the countryside, playing a sport with others if possible. If you have a physically taxing job, try to have regular mental exertion like reading, puzzles, interesting conversations that require you to think and exercise your mental abilities.
4. Commit time to winding down before bed.
Turn off the computer, avoid stressful conversations, horror films, heavy meals late at night. Go for a walk, practice yoga, try hypnotherapy, have a lovely bath to wash away the day’s stresses and concerns, use those lovely scented candles you’ve been saving for a special occasion.
Make your bedroom a haven for sleep, relaxation, personal time.
Screen off any work-related area, avoid having your mobile phone or TV too close to the bed. Keep your bedroom free from clutter. Choose lovely, soothing colours, textures and fragrances and ensure it’s a pleasant, well-ventilated, relaxing room.
Your bed is important.
It’s worth spending money on a comfortable bed, pillows, bedding. You spend a reasonable amount of time in bed so consider the money to be an investment in yourself and your health.
Little touches can make a difference to your quality of sleep.
Add lavender to the final rise cycle of your sheets. Resist the temptation to take food, work, books to bed. Listen to relaxing music. Allow your mind to calm and become still, ready for sleep. Then you’ll find the overall quality of your sleep and your life improves.
Susan Leigh is a Counsellor and Hypnotherapist who works with stressed individuals to promote confidence and self belief, with couples experiencing relationship difficulties to improve communications and understanding and with business clients to support the health and motivation levels of individuals and teams. For more articles, information or to make contact please visit http://www.lifestyletherapy.net
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