Struggling to get a good night’s sleep? You’re not alone. Insomnia is one of the most common conditions in the western world.
Everyone has their own solution, but if you can understand what caused your insomnia in the first place then that can be very helpful moving forward. Did you lose your job? Have you recently come out of a relationship? These are understandable traumatic events that could disrupt your sleep for days, weeks or longer. Unfortunately, once you are over a difficult event, it doesn’t mean your sleep will necessarily go back to normal. You’ve developed an insomnia habit. Like any habit, it isn’t easy to break.
So, what can you do about it?
Firstly, how comfortable is your bed? An old, lumpy mattress needs replacing. Some people swear by certain teas made with chamomile and lavender, while others use natural supplements like melatonin. However, one of the easiest ways to get a good night’s sleep is to just go back to basics by developing a regular bedtime routine.
Your body and brain naturally work better when following a routine. Creating a sleep schedule is an essential part of good sleep practice and it could allow you to get better sleep in the long term.
Let’s see how you can create the right routine for you:
Choose Your Times
The first step in setting up a solid sleep schedule is deciding when you want to fall asleep and when you want to wake up each day. Generally, the recommended amount of sleep you should get each night falls somewhere between 6 and 8 hours.
To figure out your best times, it usually works well to start from when you want to wake up and work backwards to see when you should fall asleep.
Choosing a set time to go to bed can be difficult when you’re first getting started, but it’s an excellent way to get your body into the habit of relaxing at a certain time every day. Even if you can’t fall asleep, go to bed according to your schedule each night.
Unfortunately, following a routine does mean that you will also get up at the same time every day – even on weekends and days off. No sleeping in!
Now that you know your sleeping times, it’s important to remove anything from your schedule that might disrupt that pattern. For instance, it’s not a good idea to drink a cup of coffee at 9 pm, if you’re planning to go to sleep at 10 pm. The same goes for drinking alcohol. Electronic devices that emit blue light, such as mobile phones and laptops, should also be avoided during this time
If you’re aware of anything else, you suspect, might cause you to stay awake longer than desirable, then remove that too.
Ensure that you don’t rely too heavily on naps. While the occasional twenty-minute nap can be a good way to refresh, the reality is that these sleeping sessions make it harder to fall asleep later.
If you notice that you’re still tired after following your schedule for a while, try going to bed a little earlier. You can adjust your schedule a small amount at a time until you feel great.
Craft a Bedtime Routine
Being able to fall asleep at your scheduled time each night, isn’t just about deciding on a good sleeping time and removing naps from your schedule. It can also help to do a few things each night that relax you in time for sleep.
There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for creating a bedtime routine. Generally, you should avoid anything which can harm your sleep quality and make it tougher for you to get the restful night you need.
Your pre-bed pattern should be all about relaxation.
Maybe you could make yourself a cup of relaxing lavender tea and have a hot bath before you go to bed. During this time, you can disconnect from all devices and even try a few other relaxation strategies to bring your mind into a state that supports sleep. Perhaps play some soothing music or read a bit of poetry.
Follow the same routine each night, eventually, your brain will begin to recognise your signs, and it’s time to fall asleep.
Know How to Deal with Problems
Finally, creating a sleep routine is great for your body and mind in the long term, but it takes a lot of time and dedication for everything to fall into place.
Ultimately, you’re going to have a few difficult nights and problematic experiences, when you’re first implementing your routine, so don’t expect to fall asleep straight away every night.
If you can’t fall asleep, get up and do something relaxing for a bit, in low light. This will help to avoid creating a feeling of frustration in your mind, whenever you go to bed.
If your routine of choice doesn’t seem to be helping you relax, after a couple of weeks, try something new.
Experiment with a sleep diary so you can track your sleeping habits and find out what works best.
The key to proper sleep hygiene is commitment and persistence.
If you continue working on your sleeping schedule, and you feel like you’re not seeing any improvements, you may want to speak to your doctor. A specialist can conduct a sleep study to determine whether you have any underlying issues, disrupting your sleep. You could be suffering from a sleep disorder.
Creating a sleep routine that works for you can enhance your life in many ways. Your productivity, physical health, mental health, metabolism, energy levels and even relationships, can all benefit when you’re regularly getting a good night’s sleep.