It is impossible to cope with anything in our waking life if we are not getting a good night sleep. If you are suffering with stress or anxiety it is especially more difficult to switch off and get the rest required to face the next day with energy and enthusiasm.
Setting the scene for a good night sleep and winding down before you venture off into the land of nod is essential to your quality of sleep and self-care. Going to bed at a decent hour and in a calm state will make it much easier for you to relax and enjoy the process.
Here are some of my top, tried and tested ‘Warrior’ tips for winding down, indulging your mind and body and getting the best night sleep ever!
Temperature, Noise and Light
Think of your bedroom as a cave if you want to achieve optimum sleep. Your sleeping environment needs to be cool, quiet and dark. Our body temperature slightly drops before we nod off, so it is important to BE cool and KEEP cool. If possible, open your bedroom window during the day to keep the air cool and fresh before you hit the sack. If you can leave the window open during the night too, even better, you will stay cool all night.
It is easier to warm up if you get cold at night rather than cool down when you are hot so this will ensure the best temperature and little disturbance. You will also be breathing in a better quality of air as you recharge your batteries.
Earplugs are a great idea if you cannot get the silence required for quality sleep. If your partner snores like a farm animal (like mine) or you have noisy neighbours or anything else that might disturb you, try wearing earplugs. I have worn them now for about 20 years and couldn’t sleep without them. I buy mine from a great company on ebay at a bargain price HERE.
Be aware though, if you can hear your heartbeat in your ears when you put them in you have pushed them in too far, pull them out a bit and enjoy the peace and quiet so you can sleep soundly. Its almost like being underwater which is very relaxing.
If you are a scardey cat in the dark like me, a dark room does not sound appealing. I cannot sleep in the dark on my own so I keep my blind/curtain open about a third of the way and let in some natural light. Unless you live in the middle of nowhere, you should have some light pollution outside so allow some of that light in the room and you will still be able to see your surroundings rather than be blind in the dark where the monsters may get you!
No one wants to hear this really because so many of us are in the habit of using screens right before bedtime. Allowing a good half hour to an hour of no screen time before bed is difficult for most people. Scrolling through social media, reading the news, checking e-mails or watching netflix might be the last thing you do before you go to sleep and you might be already in bed whilst you do this. Using electronic devices before you sleep are psychologically and physiologically stimulating which can adversely affect a good night sleep.
The blue light emitted by electronic devices restrain the production of Melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle or Circadian Rhythm.
To learn more about Circadian Rhythm and Melatonin click HERE.
Reducing Melatonin makes it much harder to fall asleep so turn those screens off in good time and let yourself wind down properly.
Light a Candle
There is nothing quite like the ambience of a candle. The flame of a candle transforms a room into a relaxing haven, soothes our soul and reduces stress within minutes. Lighting a candle and laying in bed as a way to wind down is a wonderful treat I indulge in often. The illumination of a candles flame beats the nasty blue illumination and stimulation of electronic devices and it allows you some quality downtime with just you and your mind. You might be thinking at this point “what if you fall asleep and burn the house down, what a stupid idea to burn a candle before you sleep!” Set a timer for 30 minutes in case you do fall asleep so you can wake up and blow that bad boy out! The point is to take some time for you and give signal to your body that it is time to wind down. Allow your mind to process without any 21st century interruption in the natural light of a candle flame, something that we seldom get to do these days unless we make time for it.
Invest in a good Pillow
I never knew the importance of investing in a good pillow until recently. I have invested in the right mattress for me but never gave too much thought about the pillows. I have suffered from terrible neck and shoulder pain both during the day and night for years UNTIL I purchased a Tempur Cloud Pillow. My neck and shoulder pain had become unbearable at night and a friend recommended this particular pillow to me when I was having a whinge about it.
I googled the pillow and gasped at the price! £99 FOR A PILLOW, REALLY? Plus I had to buy two, I couldn’t purchase one for myself and not treat my husband also. I did some googling and managed to find them a bit cheaper at £85 each.
So, £170 lighter in my pocket but what feels like 20 stone worth of granite lighter in my neck and shoulders ever since. It took 2 nights to adjust to the pillow and I have used it for 3 months. I experience NO pain at night at all now and wake up much more refreshed and happier! If I go to bed aching in my neck and shoulders (which is mainly due to poor posture, stress and anxiety) I wake up feeling healed and pain free! It is the most delicious, snugly pillow I have ever had and is particularly good for front sleepers like me as you cannot crook your neck on it. I particularly enjoy the feel of the visco-elastic cells that actively mould and adapt to your body. I would pay 10 times as much for this pillow now and wish I had invested sooner!
Check out the Tempur pillow range HERE and google like I did for the best price elsewhere if you want to.
Neck and shoulder complaints are very common in this day and age due to technology usage, poor posture, stress and anxiety. It is imperative to counteract this at night when it is your time to rest from those things and recharge. You only need to sleep on one pillow for good posture anyway and a pain free life is a much happier one. £85 is nothing in the grand scheme of things despite my initial gasp!
Whilst we are on the subject, why not go the whole hog and treat yourself and your new pillow to an essential oil aroma of a soothing pillow mist. I use Boots Sleepease Pillow Mist Lavender which smells divine and helps encourage relaxation before you sleep.
Guided Meditation – Meditation is a habitual process of training your mind to focus and re-directing thoughts. Guided meditations are especially good for winding down as you allow the guide to do all the work for you so all you have to do is lay back and listen. Using a guided meditation before bed is a wonderful way to wind down, relax deeply and take some time to focus on the positive. Many guided mediations will have a theme and encourage you to create positive mental habits.
Our minds need nurturing and a workout just as much as our bodies do, so this is the perfect way and at the perfect point of your day to indulge in meditations. I have used them for years and love them so much that I was inspired to record my own. Check out my ‘Warrior Mediation for Anxiety’ on YouTube and listen for free. I challenge you to listen to it once a day for 30 days so you can become more relaxed, create new positive mental habits, reduce stress and anxiety AND help you wind down before sleep.
Gratitude – By nature we seem to forget the good stuff quickly and hold onto the bad stuff for dear life. Our brains are biased to negativity and give positivity a lot less attention so it is important to exercise the practise of gratitude daily if we are to become more positive thinkers, reduce stress and anxiety and bat off anything that is troubling us that might prevent a good night sleep.
When you close your eyes to fall asleep, consciously go through your day to find 3 things that you are grateful for. It could be anything that you enjoyed or received. Making this the last thing you think about before you sleep will encourage positive thinking during the next day also, help you to realise life is not all bad and focus your mind towards a much calmer state. It is just like praying but without the religious intent.
To learn more about the practise of gratitude check my previous blog ‘The Secret to Positive Thinking’ to learn how you can utilise the practise of gratitude in your daily life.