Yes to all the parents out there with little ones that are ALL a.m. people by default you will be experiencing broken sleep. Hold tight, it will pass so long as you are strict with routine and you are firm when they wake up that they must stay in their own beds (obviously there are exceptions when they’re sick). I found when my kids were young that the earlier we could get them to self sooth – i.e. get themselves back to sleep on their own the more success we had with keeping them asleep, or at least in their rooms and not interrupting Mum and Dad’s sleep.
They’re all different so you’ll need to work out what works for you. If you need to catch up on sleep at other times do so.
We are generally monophasic sleepers in western cultures which means we usually only sleep once each day. There are no rules if you need to rest or sleep DO IT!
We all love our teas and coffees – well most of us do and if you don’t you may be a Red Bull or V drinker. If so you may be consuming more than recommended and this may be having an impact on your sleep patterns. We each metabolise caffeine differently but a recommended amount per day is about 400mg which is approximately 2 decent home brewed cups of coffee. Caffeine has a ‘half life’ of about 6 hours, again we are all different so this is only an average. This means that if you drank coffee as 2pm you will still have caffeine in your system at 8pm. If you normally go to bed at 8pm then sleep may be a problem for you.
SO – think back over your day and work out how to change your caffeine timing or quantity.
3. NO WIND DOWN
If you have a busy life then there needs to be an element of relaxation in your life. If you have a busy job, a commute in busy traffic and then have to do lots of chores when you get home and by the time you have done all of these cooked, cleaned, washed, ironed and whatever else is on your list it may well be bedtime. Well this isn’t setting you up for the best nights sleep.
One of the best pieces of advice I have found that works with clients in this situation is to find a wind down routine that works for them. The easiest way is to read for an hour before bed. This way you will have less screen time, (it needs to be an actual book not a tablet or a kindle) more learning or escapism depending on your preferred genre of book. Your brain has a chance to simply focus on one thing only. Your heart rate drops, your muscles relax, your brain relaxes and when it comes time to put the book down your brain and body are in a far better state to then go to and stay ASLEEP.
Writing things down at the end of a day is also good for off loading the brain. I use a Bullet Journal.There’s an app to support you doing it too!!
4. BLUE LIGHT
You may have seen one of my Facebook posts about blue light and its effects on sleep. Blue light is an element of light as all light comes on a spectrum. Almost rainbow like in range. Blue light has a powerful role in keeping us awake and giving us the signal that it is daytime. You’ll get this from natural light if you step outside. However, at night time when the sun has gone down we really don’t want any blue light hitting our brain because blue light tells out brain to not make melatonin – OUR SLEEP HORMONE. So if we watch TV, use our phones, tablets computers after the sun has gone down we are not giving our brains the correct signals that it is night time and sleep is not far away. SO either stop the use of these items or at least stop a minimum of 90 minutes before bedtime or grab yourself some blue light blocking glasses so you can keep working on that presentation or finish that Netflix binge!!
5. STRESS HORMONES OUT OF WHACK
If you have been under the influence a long term stressor then your cortisol profile may well be out of kilter. There is a healthy pattern that cortisol should take over the course of the day. There are a number of things that could count as stressors. They key is to identify yours and put a strategy into place to manage it as best you can.
In the morning cortisol is supposed to be reasonably high which gives you the energy you need for the day and as the day moves along it gradually drops down to lower levels so you can then sleep. It works inversely to melatonin which I just mentioned in the point above. However, if there are things causing ongoing stress for you this pattern can be thrown out and cortisol may be higher than it should be at the end of the day. Melatonin will be lower as a result and sleep may well be a wish rather than an given! Find ways to reduce stress and allow your natural cortisol pattern to kick in. Sleep patterns should return to normal once you have this in place.
6. LACK OF EXERCISE OR TIME OUTDOORS (OR BOTH!)
Often all we need is a little more movement in our day to help our bodies feel tired as well as our minds. Why not get outside for a walk in nature, if you can. If you only get to a local park and walk around it multiple times then that still counts as being in nature. There are many benefits of exercise which we all probably know but there are also lots of good things about being in nature – especially if you work in an office all day. Here’s a blog I wrote recently on the very subject of getting into nature or forest bathing to give it the technical name – about which research has been completed. The efforts of the physical will help set your body up for a better night sleep – give it a go.
These 6 tips may not be exhaustive but may go some way to helping you sleep better. If you are still struggling then you may need deeper help.
The new Fit 4 Life Better Health Packages go into these and other elements of health much deeper and set you on a path to optimal health. Feel free to make contact to discuss by booking in a free 20 minute consult in person or online.