Body

Gemma McCaw's tips on how to get a better night's sleep

If counting sheep isn’t doing the trick, try these seven snooze-inducing techniques.

By Gemma McCaw

We all know how crabby we feel if we’re not getting enough sleep. In fact, it’s vital to our quality of life, and has a huge bearing on both our mental and physical wellbeing.

Research suggests adults should be getting between seven and nine hours per night. If you have young ones, this will vary, but try to get as much sleep when you can and know it won’t be like this forever.

A few simple changes can have a profound impact on how you sleep and will leave you feeling mentally sharp, emotionally balanced and more energised!

Gemma's sharing her top tips for getting a better night's sleep.
Gemma's sharing her top tips for getting a better night's sleep.

Gut balance is key

Try not to go to bed either too full or too hungry as an uncomfortable tummy will disturb your sleep. Have dinner at least two hours before bed. After eating, do the housework, some gentle stretching or take a walk around the block. Your body will thank you for it when you drift into a deep sleep.

Switch off the screens

Reduce screen usage and stay off them at least one hour before bed.

Evening light exposure inhibits the natural rise of melatonin, therefore delaying the onset of the body’s transition to sleep.

Be careful what you drink

Avoid alcohol before bedtime. It may help bring on sleep initially, however it affects your deep restorative sleep (REM) and leaves you feeling groggy the next day.

It’s also best to avoid caffeine after midday.

Make your bedroom sleep-friendly

Your bedroom is your sanctuary. Ensure it’s cool, dark and quiet, and practise getting into a consistent sleep schedule. If you wake with achy muscles and bones, it might be time to invest in a new pillow or mattress.

Exercise

Exercising regularly – even just 10 minutes a day – boosts your mood and helps ease stress, anxiety and depression, all of which can interfere with a good night’s sleep.

Breathing techniques

If you find it hard getting to sleep, try the 4/7/4 breathing technique. Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, then hold your breath for 7 seconds and finally breathe out for 4 seconds making a “whoosh” sound.

Repeat this 3-4 times. Deep breathing increases the oxygen supply to our brains, stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes calmness in the body. Breathing also quietens our minds and takes away the worries in our heads.

Manage your worries

Before bed, write down any concerns you may have and a quick action plan on how to deal with them. You’ll be amazed how much it helps clear your head for a peaceful night’s sleep.

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