There’s nothing quite as frustrating as when you’re feeling incredibly tired all day yet can’t get to sleep when you finally crawl into your bed.
It’s as if the ‘sleep fairies ‘are playing some huge practical joke and have decided that, even though you’ve been craving your bed with every ounce of your soul ALL DAY, those nocturnal hours are the perfect time for lying in bed wide awake and troubleshooting your life.
But sleep is important for us busy girls. We NEED to sleep well to perform at our best, to keep being physically active and to feel happy and healthy. We need to sleep well to stay functional, sane and..well..normal. (if that’s a thing!)
Sooo, I’ve put together ten scientifically-proven tips that have helped me sleep much better each and every night, and I’m sure they’ll work wonders for you too.
There’s no sleeping tablets or wacky herbal medicines here- just 100% natural, lifestyle tips that will help you best insomnia and become your most badass self!
#1. Put that smartphone DOWN!
If you want to instantly boost your sleep quality and managed to drop off faster, it’s time to get rid of screens in the evening, or at least an hour or two before bed. Bye bye tablets, laptops, phones and backlit eReaders too…
Screens are terrible for sleep because they emit an artificial blue light which suppresses our production of melatonin, the sleep hormone which helps regulate our circadian rhythms throughout the day.
This stops us getting to sleep and enjoying a good night’s rest.
I’ll be honest here- I found this really hard to do, because the majority of my work gets done at night when my son is tucked up in bed. It’s not as if I can just stop working because the sun has set!
Luckily, I discovered a clever FREE download called F.lux which dims your screen after sunset and equalises the colours so you can keep right on working until bedtime. Give it a try!
#2. Get outside during the day
I LOVE getting fresh air and I don’t need any excuses for getting outside. My body physically craves that fresh air and sunlight…
But it turns out that time outside is also brilliant for your sleep habits too.
Not only do you get to nourish your body with oxygen rich air you’ll also allow that natural light to do all it’s magic. This includes boosting production of that happiness hormone, serotonin (which lifts your mood) and also helps regulate your body clock too.
The best time to get outside is first thing in the morning- you’ll stop melatonin being produced at this time (you don’t want it to appear until later, just before bed) and you’ll feel more awake and alive.
You might want to ditch your sunglasses though- the light needs to hit your retina for maximum effect. So before you hit that ‘to do’ list, throw on a jacket and your shoes and take a walk.
#3. Stop drinking tea and coffee in the afternoon
I know!! I love drinking coffee too (so much that I’m even trying my hand at growing my own coffee plants) But I also love my sleep and feel like hell when I’ve had less hours shut eye than I need.
That’s why I’m really ‘good’ and I always stop drinking caffeine in the afternoon, around 5pm.
If I don’t, I’m guaranteed to lie there awake all night, feeling very frustrated that I can’t drop off. I’ll lie there troubleshooting my life and dreaming up mischief and adventures instead.
The problem is,caffeine takes a long time to leave your system, so even if you think your post-dinner coffee won’t be a problem, when you hit the hay at 11pm you might be in for a nasty surprise.
Don’t think you need to settle for water and chamomile tea as substitutes- there are literally hundreds of herbal and fruit teas out there that make a wonderful warm bedtime drink. I’m currently experimenting with them all!
#4. You need a sleep ROUTINE
Ever enjoyed a really long lie-in on the weekend and then struggled to drop off to sleep on Sunday night, only to spend most of Monday feeling sleep deprived? Yep, me too.
This is known as social jetlag and can really play havoc with your health and your happiness.
That’s why I’d really recommend that you get into a great, consistent sleep routine.
Aim to go to bed at roughly the same time every day, whether it’s a weekday or the weekend. Make sure you get up at the same time too. Do this and you’ll soon find you drop off quickly and sleep well every time.
#5. Get your room dark
It’s amazing how even the smallest amount of light can disturb a good night’s sleep, so if you’re not getting a good night’s sleep, it’s a sensible idea to check whether light ‘pollution’ could be responsible.
Are the street-lights glowing through your curtains at night? Is the light of the moon keeping you awake? Is your alarm clock glowing menacingly in the dark? Or even the LED light on your phone?
Even a small amount of exercise helps to regulate your body clock and help you sleep better at night. Since I started running, I’ve really noticed how much more deeply I sleep and how much more refreshed I feel when I wake up (usually!)
Exercise increases body heat which tells your body to produce more melatonin at night and it also increases your levels of adenosine, a hormone which makes you feel tired and sleepy.
And all that fresh air and sunlight can also make you feel wonderfully sleepy…
#7. Enjoy a warm bath or shower
Turns out your grandmother was right- a warm bath before bed really can leave you feeling wonderfully relaxed, and also help ensure you get a good night’s sleep.
So before you climb between the sheets, make sure you jump into the bathroom.
The warm water will help relax your muscles, you’ll feel like you’re really indulging yourself and you’ll also calm your mind in the process (especially if you take half an hour for a good soak with some healthy bath salts or vegan bubble bath!)
It’s also interesting to know that our body temperature drops slightly before we nod off, so taking a hot bath of shower helps induce this state so we fall asleep faster.
#8: Do yoga before bed!
Ease yourself into a better night’s sleep by treating your body to some yoga. It calms your mind, keeps you limber, nourishing your self-love, helps minimise the effects of stress on your body and also stretches out the day’s frustrations.
There’s even science to back this up- a study at Harvard Medical School discovered that a daily yoga practice positively affected sleep for people with insomnia.
Here’s a great (quick) nighttime yoga practice to try:
Routine for a Deep Sleep: The Yoga Solution with Tara Stiles
#9. Get your thoughts off your chest before you head hits the pillow
If you’re anything like me, those moments when you’re lying there trying to get to sleep are often the time when all the worries and anxieties of the world descend. And yes, this leaves me wide awake well into the early hours.
Deal with this by getting your thoughts off your chest before you get to bed.
Talk them through with a loved one or even write them down somewhere, such as in a journal so you’re not worrying and planning when you’re supposed to be sleeping.
#10. Listen to a relaxation recording
According to the Guardian newspaper, listening to relaxing music or audiobooks works wonders for insomniacs of all ages, so it’s worth a try in your quest for a better night’s sleep.
I know from experience that this works wonders. My son is a vegetarian bundle of energy and a crazy parkour wannabe, so he finds it really hard to drop off to sleep at night.
What works best for him (and me too!) is to listen to what we call ‘relaxing music’. This includes rainforest sounds, nature sounds, wave music, classical music or even guided relaxations for children.
We put in on when he gets into bed (using a sleep function) and he’s soon calm and sleeping away happily.
If you want inspiration, try listening to this rainforest music below and closing your eyes.
If you’re been burning too much of the midnight oil lately and you’re struggling to get to sleep, try these 10 easy, effective and drug-free tips. I promise you’ll sleep much better than before and wake up feeling even MORE awesome than you already are!!