The Ultimate Sleep Guide
It shouldn't come as any surprise to you to learn that good skincare requires good 'you care'. And one of the most important tools in your kit bag of general well-being is a good night's sleep.
So, here's our Ultimate Sleep Guide from health and well-being writer, Bridget Webber.
No doubt, you remember when as a child, you could jump into bed, close your eyes and sail away to Dreamland instantly. Those were blissful times. Now, however, getting to sleep might be difficult. Unlike your childhood self, your adult self has responsibility. Your grown-up self has stress to deal with, and numerous other difficulties that make drifting off to sleep complicated. What you need is an ultimate sleep guide to show you how to navigate the tricky route to sleep and make it easy again.
A little stress is good for you; it motivates you to make positive change and provides you with adrenalin that helps you carry out your plans for improvement. However, too much stress is a poor bedfellow.
Stress chemicals that build in your body will need to dissipate before you can sleep well. Ideally, you will deal with the cause of your anxiety as an antidote to insomnia. However, you cannot eliminate all stress from your life because some anxiety-creating situations will arise no matter what you do to prevent them. The answer is to learn how to handle stress when it occurs rather than by attempting to avoid it.
Prehistoric man had a massive amount of pressure to deal with in his daily life. However, you can bet your bottom dollar that he slept like a baby. He lived in a world that was designed, not only to create stress, but also to allow him to use stress chemicals productively. He ran away from dinosaurs and hunted wild creatures with huge fangs. Consequently, he concentrated on escaping from danger and focused entirely on survival. He used the stress chemicals that flooded his system, and by bedtime, he was more than ready to curl up in his cave and get some shut-eye.
You face different stress triggers to those that prehistoric man had to cope with, and they are the kinds that leave stress chemicals rushing through your system rather than wiping them out. You might panic about getting stuck in traffic, being late for work, facing deadlines, and impressing your boss. At the same time, you might have relationship dramas, family problems, and health issues you need to manage. These triggers create stress that is perpetual rather than momentary. The result is that the stress chemicals created to help you flee dangerous situations remain in place. When you shut your eyes and attempt to sleep, you are extremely alert.
Dealing with stress at night
When your mind is racing, counting imaginary sheep will not send you to sleep. You will find it is beneficial to engage in a minor activity. You might choose to read, or to listen to soothing music. Such activities will help take your mind away from troubles that ail you and fuel anxiety
Dealing with stress during the day
If you deal with stress during the day, it is less likely to build and bother you when you want to go to sleep. There are two fabulous ways you can help stress dissipate, and create a relaxed persona so that you manage stress successfully.
You probably would not have found prehistoric man meditating in the lotus position. However, his anxiety was short-lived, so he did not need to calm his mind from a multitude of troubling thoughts.
Meditating will help you take a mind-vacation away from stress. At the same time, meditating can become a useful tool to help you cope with stress when it occurs. If you feel so highly-strung that you cannot relax enough to meditate, focus on your breathing. Feel air flowing in to your lungs and hold it in place for two seconds. Take in, and release each breath to the count of four.
Place your hands palm side down over your stomach and feel this area of your body slowly rise and fall with each in breath, and each out breath. Eventually, you will train your body and mind to relax by repeating this exercise each day.
Unless you have a physical job, or regularly visit a gym, you might not get enough exercise. You can calm your mind via meditation and deep breathing, but you also need to give your body a workout. There is nothing worse than lying in bed knowing that you need to recharge your brain when your body is full of excess energy. Despite how hard you try to sleep, you cannot persuade your body to shut down enough for sleep to come if you need to exercise.
In addition, mental stress can leave unused adrenalin in your body as well as making you feel emotionally stressed. Going for a run or engaging in a sport will help you unwind. If you do not enjoy working out in a gym and hate team sports, try walking each evening, or take up yoga.
Although mental and physical stress can be major contributors to insomnia, there could be other reasons why you find it difficult to sleep. There are several types of stimulants that could overload your system and leave your mind buzzing when you need to rest.
Think of what you eat and drink as fuel that keeps your body going. Certain fuels are slow burners while others provide an instant boost. Naturally, it is a bad idea to consume foods or beverages that kick-start your energy and make it soar just before bedtime. Candies, cakes, chocolate, coffee, and soft drinks such as cola are not suitable to consume at night. Additionally, painkillers that contain caffeine should be avoided during the night as they could keep you awake.
Any form of excitement before bedtime might stop you from sleeping. Computer games, action movies, arguments, and energetic music are just four examples of the types of stimulation it is best to avoid.
Do not overlook your environment when searching for sleep-solutions. An uncomfortable mattress, light streaming in through your bedroom window, or a snoring partner might be to blame for your lack of sleep. In addition, prescription medication, pain, or restless legs syndrome might keep you awake.
The best environment to sleep in is one that has a comfortable temperature and is dark and quiet. If necessary, select thick bedroom curtains to shut out light, leave a window ajar to let air enter your bedroom, and wear earplugs to shut out noise when you go to bed. It is also vital to be as comfortable as you possibly can be if you are in pain.
Experiment with different shaped pillows, placing them under your knees, for example, if you have an illness such as arthritis that causes you discomfort. Restless legs syndrome can be alleviated by moving around for a little while. You might also benefit from massaging your legs when you feel twitchy if you have RLS.
Understanding how to deal with mental and physical stress, and avoid over stimulation, plus create the best environment in which to relax will mean that you easily reach Dreamland.