If you’re having trouble sleeping just now, you’re certainly not alone. Many of us are struggling more with sleep since Covid-19 arrived on our doorstep. Research by Kings College, found we are finding it harder to wind down and losing around 1-2 hours of sleep due to stress and anxiety. Of course if you are peri-menopausal or further along the menopause, you may also be suffering with sleep since insomnia and night sweats are common.
Whilst we can’t remove much of our stress at the moment or hormonal changes, if you make ‘getting more sleep’ a priority, you may see some changes. First, start with setting an intention of when you want to be in bed. For example, if you want 8 hours of sleep and you need to wake up at 6:00, plan to be ready for sleep by 10:00. This means you’ll want to start getting ready for bed by 9:30.
Here is a list of 20 things you can try to help improve your sleep:
Eliminate or reduce caffeine and alcohol (these can cause restless sleep and hot flushes).
Don’t have caffeine within 7-8 hours of bedtime, especially if you know it affects you and makes you feel wired.
Turn off your electronic devices 1-2 hours before bed. Set a timer on your phone to remind you.
Aim to finish dinner at least 3-4 hours before bedtime.
Drink a calming tea like Chamomile in the evening.
Sleep in a totally dark room (all sources of light off) or wear eye covers.
Set your bedroom at a comfortable temperature. If you suffer with night sweats, ensure it's on the cooler side.
Exercise in the morning, afternoon or very early evening (not late at night). If you are working from home, as many of us are just now - ensure you get a dose of exercise at some point.
Get exposure to daylight first thing in the morning. This kickstarts your body's natural circadian rhythm, helping to wake you up. It will help to prepare your body for sleep later on.
Take a soothing hot bath at night.
Listen to soft music before bed to help wind down.
Use relaxing breathing techniques or meditation to help calm you.
White noise at bedtime – a fountain or fan.
Eat a handful of pistachios in the evening. They are one of the strongest sources of melatonin - your sleep hormone, helping to promote sleep.
Relax and read a book before bed.
Do some Yoga or Tai Chi or stretching in the evening or at night to de-stress.
Write down a list of things you want to get done tomorrow or put it on your calendar (dump your brain of details, so you can relax).
Leave electronic devices out of the bedroom, to avoid the temptation for late night scrolling. Invest in an alarm clock.
If you are prone to waking and ruminating at note, write down your worries in a journal before you go to bed.
Write down 3 things you are grateful for today, or just note three things in your mind.
It can take 1-2 weeks until something may start to work for you, so if after a day or 2 of trying one of these tips, don’t give up. It may just take some time for your body to adjust. It's well worth looking at ways to improve sleep as it can have a knock-on effect on eating choices, motivation to exercise and also stress. Sleep is often one of several elements that needs to be addressed, a key part of Nutrition and Lifestyle Coaching.
Note: If these simple solutions don’t work for you, be sure to check with your doctor to see if they can find the root cause.