Sunday

Key Ideas For Getting Good Quality Sleep


In the last blog I outlined some of the symptoms that are associated with not getting enough sleep, some of which cause us to gain weight. So, if we aren’t getting enough quality sleep, what can we do about it?
 
Well, there are a few obvious things you can do first of all, such as making sure your bedroom is dark enough and kept on the ‘cool’ side, keeping an eye on caffeine and alcohol intake, not eating too close to bedtime, etc, etc

In this post though, I’d like to go beyond the obvious and take a look at a few ways that you might want to experiment with that will either boost the quality of your sleep or will help you sleep longer. It goes without saying that we’re all different; what works really well for some people might not be the best approach for others. The key with this is trial and error..

Air Quality
Maintaining the quality of the air in your bedroom, often plays a huge part in the quality of sleep that you’ll have. The snake plant, is known as "the bedroom plant”.  This is because whilst most plants take away oxygen at night, the snake plant gives off oxygen at night.

Researcher Kamal Meattle, who conducted a NASA study on improving indoor air quality, concluded that “snake plants are one of the most recommended plants for improving air quality. The optimal place to keep this relatively inexpensive and low-maintenance plant is the bedroom, because it converts carbon dioxide into oxygen at night”.

Muffle Out Sounds
Blocking out noise and distractions is clearly an obvious route to improving sleep quality, but it might not be so easy to escape sounds from outside, a snoring partner or noisy neighbours. If this or something similar is the case, you can block these sounds out with ‘sleep-phones’; a sleep head band with thin speakers embedded. You can buy them for around £30 off the internet HERE
 
Hook this up to your iPod or MP3 player and drift off to sleep listening to some soothing music such as THIS.

Take Notes
Your daily routine affects how well you sleep; a sleep log can help you identify the connections between certain activities and the resulting levels of sleep. Every day, record how much caffeine and alcohol you drink, when and how much you exercise, what you eat, when you go to bed and wake up, and your sleep time. Over a short period of time patterns will generally reveal themselves giving you a good indication of key causes of poor sleep.

On the topic of keeping notes, keep a pencil and paper at the side of the bed. Many of us get our finest moments of inspiration when lay in bed, but delving deeper into these thoughts and ‘sorting problems out’ during the night (worried that we might forget by the morning) can go on for hours. The best thing to do it to take a few seconds to transfer the ‘bullet points’ of those thoughts onto a notepad at the side of the bed, then forget about them; allowing you to drift back to sleep, safe in the knowledge that you can expand on your new ideas when you awake fully refreshed.

Use Hypnotic Triggers
Progressive muscle relaxation is a common technique used by hypnotherapists (myself included) to help their clients relax. As you’re lay in bed, starting with the tips of your toes, just very gently ‘tense’ your toes and hold that for a count of 7 (in your head), then completely relax your toes. After a few seconds, repeat the same brief exercise with your feet, then your ankles, then your calves, etc; gradually working your way up your whole body, all the way to the top of your head.

Another hypnotic technique is to set a ‘sleep anchor’. The key to this trick is to start the habit as you drift off during a period when you are sleeping well, then you can use it at other times when you have difficulty…

Do something unusual, such as stroking your own cheek as you drift off. Focus all your attention on what the movement feels like. Over successive nights, your body will learn to develop an association that links the ‘stroking sensation’ with sleep. Later, during nights where getting off to sleep proves difficult, repeating this exact ‘stroking’ movement will ‘trigger’ your ‘sleep anchor’, convincing your body it’s sleepy.

Try To Stay Awake
Challenge yourself to stay awake – your mind will do its utmost to rebel. It’s what is known as the sleep paradox. Keep your eyes wide open and repeat to yourself over and over in your head, “I will not sleep… I will not sleep… I will not sleep…”. The brain doesn’t process negatives well, so interprets this as a subconscious instruction to sleep, causing your breathing to calm down, your muscles to relax and your eyes to tire quickly as sleep creeps up.

If you have your own not-so-strange method for helping you drift off into sleepland, I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to leave a comment below or just hit ‘reply’ and send me an email.

Best wishes

Tony