Insomnia or irregular sleep patterns are common problems in the modern world. Lifestyles can lead to high stress levels which can affect our sleep. What is your sleep pattern: do you have difficulty getting to sleep, do you wake in the night and struggle to get back to sleep, or do you wake early and stay awake? Opinion on how much sleep we need changes regularly, but common sense would suggest that we function better, feel better and are healthier when we sleep well.

Because lifestyle and stress levels can impact sleep, examining these elements can be a good place to start (see the links on my Homepage for information). Also asking yourself if your life is in balance is a useful exercise, so why not have a bit of fun with the Life in Balance link on my Homepage!

I think that one of the keys to good sleep is to arrive at bedtime as relaxed as possible, not always that simple. How often are you “on the go” right up to bedtime, collapsing into bed exhausted and stressed? Needless to say this can have quite an impact on relationships. Learning a simple relaxation, mindfulness or breathing technique can be really helpful, giving us a way to feel more grounded and calm.

Here are a few simple tips to aid peaceful sleep:
1) Try to go to bed at a regular time, particularly during the week.
2) Is your bed comfortable? A bed/mattress usually lasts up to 10 years. Are your pillows firm, if you balance one on your arm does it flop either side?
3) Is your bedroom a comfortable temperature, well ventilated, and is it dark enough?
4) Avoid stimulants such as coffee, cigarettes, alcohol or non-herbal tea for 2-3 hours before bedtime. Alcohol is a stimulant and disturbs your R.E.M sleep.
5) Avoid over stimulating television programmes or reading material (violent, aggressive, emotionally distressing etc.) before bedtime.
6) Begin a process of “winding down” well before bedtime. Try the following:
a A relaxing bath with aromatherapy oils and/or scented candles. Lavender and jasmine are good.
b A warm milky drink before bed.
c A short period of relaxation: self-hypnosis, meditation or a simple breathing exercise.
d Complete “rituals” (i.e teeth cleaning etc.) well before bedtime.
7) If you have things on your mind, make a list on paper before bedtime and tell yourself you will deal with them tomorrow.
8) If you are unable to get to sleep or get back to sleep:
a Don’t lie in bed unable to sleep for longer than 20 minutes. Get up, make a milky drink/herbal tea, then go to another room and read something bland until you feel tired. Then go back to bed.
b Once back in bed you can use self- hypnosis, EFT or a relaxation technique to help you get back to sleep.
c “Tossing and turning” reinforces the idea of bed as a place to worry rather than a place to sleep.
9) Do some light exercise in the evening (at the gym or a walk etc.).

It may be worth reflecting on how much energy you put into stressful areas of your life, and how much into relaxation. Like anything else, relaxation needs commitment to achieve results

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