How has the start of 2024 been for you? January is the month of fresh starts, resolutions, and the promise of a new beginning. While many have started this year with a focus on fitness and nutrition, one vital aspect often overlooked is the power of quality sleep.
A good night's rest is the foundation for overall well-being, impacting everything from mood to productivity. I’ve put together 9 effective strategies for improving your sleep this month so you can feel more energised throughout the year to come.
1. Establish a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Start by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends. I know that's hard after a late night, but, consistency helps regulate your body's internal clock (circadian rhythm), making it easier to fall asleep and wake up naturally.
2. Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine
Wind down before bed with a calming routine. Consider activities like reading a book, practicing simple breathing techniques, or taking a warm bath with magnesium salts. These rituals signal to your body that it's time to prepare for sleep. A warm bath or shower an hour or two before bedtime can help you fall asleep faster because it will lower your core body temperature, which signals to your circadian clock that it’s time to sleep.
3. Optimise Your Sleep Environment
Evaluate your bedroom for optimal sleep conditions. Ensure the room is cool, dark, and quiet. Invest in comfortable bedding and consider blackout curtains to block out any unwanted light. I have recently started to use a silk eye mask to block out any light in the bedroom emitted from charging devices or electronic items.
4. Limit Screen Time Before Bed
The blue light emitted by phones, tablets, and computers can interfere with the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Aim to reduce screen time at least an hour before bedtime to promote better sleep quality.
If you find it tricky to be screen-free before bedtime, I can highly recommend using blue light blocking glasses which will reduce the emission of blue light you're receiving and help you stimulate melatonin production.
5. Mindful Eating for Better Sleep
Be mindful of what you eat and drink, especially in the evening. Heavy meals, caffeine, and alcohol close to bedtime can make it harder to get to sleep.
If you eat or drink shortly before bedtime, particularly sugary substances, your body will be using energy to digest the food and therefore you will not be in a rested state for bed. If you can't avoid late night munchies, a savoury snack would be better!
If you can, try to avoid drinking caffeine after midday to reduce the amount still left in your system at bedtime.
6. Stay Active During the Day
Regular physical activity has been linked to improved sleep quality. Incorporate exercise into your daily routine, but aim to finish your workout at least a few hours before bedtime to allow your body to wind down.
7. Manage Stress and Anxiety
January can be a busy month, and stress might be impacting your sleep. It is important to reduce your stress levels during the day so that your body is not awash with cortisol at bedtime and unable to sleep. Practice stress-reducing techniques such as Sophrology during the day and incorporate breathwork, stretching and tension release exercises before bedtime.
8. Limit Naps and Nap Smart
While a short nap can be rejuvenating, avoid lengthy naps, especially in the late afternoon. If you need to nap, keep it under 30 minutes to prevent interference with your night-time sleep.
9. Seek Professional Help if Needed
If sleep troubles persist, don't hesitate to consult a healthcare professional or a sleep specialist. One option to help with sleep issues is to try Sophrology. It has been used in sleep clinics across France for decades and can be an effective way manage your stress so that you can get a restful night’s sleep.
Remember, the path to better sleep is unique for each individual. Experiment with these strategies and find what works best for you. By prioritising your sleep, you're not just getting a good night's rest; you're laying the groundwork for a healthier, more vibrant life in the months to come. Sweet dreams!