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Are you getting enough sleep?

We all know that getting enough sleep is essential to our health and wellbeing, but in these modern times with the demands of a family, work, home and the ‘always on’ nature of social media, having a restful night’s sleep can seem like a distant memory to some.

When you are used to being on-the-go it can be tricky to switch off, but if we allow ourselves to become run down, we are of no use to help anyone else so positive self care is essential.  Studies show that a bad night’s sleep can put you at risk of physical and mental health issues, so to prevent that possibility, here are 5 ways to get you in the optimum state for restful sleep.

A bedtime routine

Doing the same routine at the same time each day will signal to your body that now is the time to sleep.  You could take a warm bubble bath – use a drop of lavender oil in the bath to infuse the room with scent or try a beautiful candle fragranced with bergamot or jasmine.  The heat from the bath will help your body to unwind then when you get into your nightclothes you will already feel relaxed.  You could take time to meditate – slowing down your breathing and trying to empty the mind will also have a calming effect.  If you find silent meditation too hard (and it is really tricky to get right at first!) then try a guided audio meditation so you can lay on the bed with earphones and listen to the soothing voice to help you relax.  A busy mind often finds that things to do or remember pops into the brain upon relaxation, so keep a pad and pen by the bed so you can empty your mind onto the paper knowing you won’t forget to do anything the next day!

Blitz the bedroom

Your bedroom should be a restful and welcoming place to be, so don’t allow your mobile phones and tablets in!  Staring at a bright screen and interacting on Facebook will keep you alert and ‘on duty’ making it harder to wind down when you do want to sleep.  Ensure that your bedding is clean and comfortable and wear layers to sleep in, so you can take a layer off if you get too warm.  Use lighting to create a cosy atmosphere – a small bedside lamp should create the right mood rather than a harsh ceiling light, and have a blackout blind at the window if your curtains do not shut out all the light.

The scent of sleep

Scents like lavender and geranium are both stress relievers and their scent can promote a restful state in the body.  Vanilla is another smell that can calm the body so consider using them in your room to fill the space with a calming scent to help you sleep.  If you choose to use a scented candle, make sure that you use it well before you wish to sleep, so you can have the scent in the air, but be alert enough to blow the candle out before you get too sleepy!  A safer alternative would be to use an essential oil diffuser or to rub a few drops of the essential oil of your choice to the back of your neck. You can dilute the neat oil into a carrier oil such as sweet almond oil to get the same benefits of the oil without potential skin irritation.

Avoid technology

Screen time is best stopped at least an hour before you plan to go to sleep but if you are wondering what you can ‘do’ to help you sleep then reading is a relaxing way to wind down.  Just choose some fiction and immerse yourself in the characters rather than a non-fiction factual kind of book!  If you prefer not to read then listening to music is another way to prepare yourself for sleep. Just make sure that the music is not too emotional or up-tempo as this could have the effect of waking you up!  See this time before you sleep as your personal daily indulgence (even though getting restful sleep is a fundamental biological need rather than a luxury!)  However, when else in our busy days do we have time to sit and just ‘be’, read a book or listen calmly to music? This is your time – treat yourself well and take that time so you can have enough energy the next day to cope with its demands.

Reset your internal clock

It is vital to get out into natural light on a daily basis and spending time outdoors will help you adjust if you are sleeping and waking at odd hours.  It is important to exercise regularly – both to help you release all your energy but also it helps clear the mind too.  Any activity that soothes the senses will help.  You can also aid your body to get into more natural rhythms by not drinking caffeine or alcohol after early evening.  After your evening meal – have just a light snack if you still need food so that it is not lying too heavy on you as you try to drift off into sleep.

With these tips you will be getting your rest in no time!