We all know the feeling. Between trying to process the day, antagonising over tomorrow's to do list, and romanticising over your endless Instagram feed... it's no wonder so many of us can't find the off switch around bedtime. Your head hits the pillow and it's like your brain is having a party. You're restless, find it hard to fall asleep, and when you do it's anything but peaceful. Sound familiar?
According to Sleep Health Foundation, Australia is on the verge of a sleep deprivation epidemic severley impacting how we function emotionally, mentally, and physiologically. It's no surprise that those who suffer from insomnia also have greater levels of stress and anxiety. In fact, many who suffer from sleep depravation also build up a sleep anxiety worrying about the fact that you might not be able to sleep.
So how can we set ourselves up for that dreamy night's sleep to give our best versions to the world? As a long term anxiety suffer, yoga teacher and wellness expert, these are my 11 top hacks to create a sleep oasis for an anxious-free sleep.
1. The More Plants The Better
There's an abundance of research to back that filling your bedroom with lush greenery can help a good night's sleep. Try sleep inducing plants (like Lavender, Aloe Vera or Succulents) that slow heart rate, alleviate stress and support respiratory function by cleaning the air around you.
Aromatherapy is an alternative medicine that relies on the powerful sense of smell. In fact when we smell something it sends signals to our limbic system and amygdala which are responsible for mood and memory. Pop a few drops in the diffuser to run all night long. The best scents to use are lavender and lemon.
The energy you surround yourself with is everything. Take note of what's in your bedroom and the vibration they emit. Adding a few crystals to your bedside table that promote relaxation like Amethyst, Angelite or Clear Quartz can be the difference between a good night's sleep and a bad one.
4. Sound Therapy
Be mindful of what sounds you expose yourself to before bed. Listening to relaxing music triggers biochemical stress reducers in the brain and can even slow brain waves for sleep. Try this Sleepy Tunes playlist on Spotify.
5. Invest In A Good Mattress
You spend one third of your life in bed. So make sure you have the right mattress for your body. Upfront costs of a new mattress don't have to break the bank. Jump on GumTree, do a swapsies or flip some stuff around the house, in order to invest in the right support for your wellbeing. And really, what's more important than that?!
6. Make The Bedroom A Tech-Free Zone
This is where I probably saw the most shift in a good night's sleep - making the bedroom completely 100% tech free. No phones, tablets, laptops, computers, tv's or anything of the sort. These devices emit blue light that inhibits the production of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin. So they literally keep your brain awake. Try to limit technology 60 minutes before bedtime. Consider setting a technology cut off alarm to allow you enough time for a blue light detox before bed. Set up a charging station outside the bedroom (but where you can hear your morning alarm) so you won't be tempted to reach for it throughout the night. If this gives you separation anxiety, then we have a bigger problem... Before bed you can read a book, have a shower, listen to chill music or journal. Furthermore eliminate all electronics, anything with a plug, lamps, night lights where possible. Try some yummy candles in their place.
7. Create routine
After a terrible night's sleep it's natural to want hit the snooze button. However, enforcing routine habit is the best thing you can do for yourself here. Similar to the theory of staying awake when you arrive in a different time zone. So try to get up at the same time every day to regulate your body clock and assist falling asleep (and staying asleep) at night. To further this create a repetitive relaxing bedtime routine every night before you sleep to cue your body into what's happening e.g. bubble bath, candles, music. Rinse and repeat.
8. Limit Caffeine
I know a lot of us are very attached to this on so my advice is to avoid caffeine too late in the day. For those with anxiety who respond more sensitively than others to the stimulant try to avoid altogether.
9. Only Use Your Bed For Sleep (And Sex)
It's oh so tempting to use your fluffy bed sheets as a study or work nook, but as much as you can, reserve your bed for sleep and sex only. Using your bed for study and work intertwines sleep with stressors and other potential distractions. Train the body to associate your bedroom for sleep and sleep alone.
10. Be Cool. Get Naked.
According to Tuck, body and room temperature play a pivotal role in helping you fall asleep. The ideal sleep temperature is between 15°C - 18°C (60°F - 67°F). Temperatures over 24°C (71°F) are likely to cause restlessness, cause night sweats and provoke insomnia. For everyone ideal temp varies. So experiment for what works for you. Oh and sleeping naked not only increases the chances you'll sleep comfortably and soundly, it also helps cool your body down.
11. Stretch and Breath
And of course I saved the best for last. Something as simple as moving, stretching and mindful breathing before you hit the hay can make a world of difference by releasing tension in the tissues and calming the nervous system. Try some yoga poses for sleep with our Online Studio.
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