Sleep can be a real pain in the @#%! Who hasn’t struggled with sleep!?…It can be a real burden.
Throwing not only yourself and your energy off for the rest of the day; But also how you feel, perform and perceive situations throughout your week.
You know when YOU don’t sleep properly YOU are not at your best.
So that’s why it’s the FIRST workout we’re focusing our New Year efforts on to get YOU feeling and being at your best so YOU can do or achieve anything! #ProjectYOU
(You can find out more about #ProjectYOU by taking our Inner Health Check here).
Below I’m sharing with you my nightly routine and top tips that have been developed from battling years of insomnia but finally cracking the code.
And if you commit and follow these steps and tips not only for the next week but every time you go to bed, YOU can master you’re sleep too! And make it one of the most valuable activities for your wellbeing and ability to succeed moving forward.
It’s really worth your time and effort. So let’s make it your number one goal and focus this week.
Ok, I know you know this already (and I don’t need to start citing scientific studies at you) but it is key.
I’ve personally found that if I ever have a lie in and sleep over 8 hours or go to bed late OR wake up early and have less than 7 hours sleep, it leads to sleep disaster in some way.
I either over sleep myself into more tiredness when I wake up (yes you can do that!); Have too much sleep so when it’s bedtime I don’t want to sleep at bedtime; Or rise too early and fight tiredness throughout the day or week (feeling like my body is screaming ‘ why have you done this to me’)
7hr 30 minutes is my perfect sleep length… but to achieve this everyday you need to monitor yourself religiously.
To do this:
When you set an alarm for the morning don’t just think about when you need to be up by…. Work out what time you need to go to sleep and wake to have these magic 7-8 hours.
You can either get a piece of paper and work it out; Literally count back the hours on the clock from your waking time; Or my favourite use… an app to do this.
(I use the bedtime app on my iphone which can be found in your clock app)
Ok, so step one was probably a given and you knew this already…However, this next step is where you often let yourself down.
Going to bed at 10pm doesn’t mean you go to sleep at 10pm.
It takes most of us an hour to actually get to sleep so this needs to be built in to your routine and another non negotiable.
To do this:
Add a minimum of one hour on to your sleep time that you worked out in step one… this is now your new bedtime.
Then, set an alarm to tell yourself to go to bed at this time. (Yes this is necessary – alarms make you do things!)
You can do this manually or again I use the bedtime app on my iphone to schedule this (click options in bedtime in your clock settings) .
Why an hour?
By the time you’ve locked up the house, put the lights out, gone upstairs, undressed, washed your face, brushed your teeth, gone to the toilet, closed the curtains, got in to bed and then wriggled for 20minutes trying to get comfy…. this normally takes about 45 minutes. And then we’re going to be adding an extra few activities that will equate to 15minutes in the next few steps. So you need to give yourself an hour to get to sleep.
Now you’ve worked out your sleep time and bed time, next I want you to add an additional step… Switching off from your phone.
Your phone can be your enemy when it comes to getting to sleep quickly.
Most of us spend our final waking hours of each day staring in to the bright screens of our phones catching up on social media or emails…Don’t do it!
Although browsing through your newsfeed may be your way of relaxing (or just a bad habit) doing it before bed or even worse in bed, can really stop you sleeping.
Because the bright light switches your brains and eyes on which keeps you awake.
And secondly, filling yourself with lots of information (whether useful or not) is again activating your brain to keep processing and triggering it through the night.
Therefore we need to build switching off in to your routine.
To do this:
Try reducing the brightness on your phone 1 hour before your bedtime (not your sleep time).
Again, you can do this manually (or if you have an iPhone you can automate this in your display & brightness setting).
Next, make sure that from when you start your bedtime routine you no longer look or mess with your phone. No matter what it is it can wait till tomorrow.
I even go to the extreme of putting my phone on aeroplane mode to ensure I do this. It helps he need to have a last cheeky last look at anything before I go to sleep.
Your bedtime should be all about focusing on you – not anyone or anything else.
(N.B. this also applies to using laptops and watching TV… let’s make your bedtime a screen free zone).
This again is a big one for me… I’ve found if I eat past 7pm it effects my sleep BIG time, as my body stays awake trying to process my meal.
Food takes between 6 – 8 hours to pass through your body (Plus, there’s nothing worse than going to sleep on a full stomach!). You need to therefore appreciate this and help your body out by not filling it full or food and then trying to go to sleep.
To do this:
Make sure you don’t eat past 7pm.
Now I know our crazy schedules or long working days can make this hard to do. So rather than having your main meal at dinner time why not try having it at lunchtime.
This not only gives your body chance to process it, it also helps fuel your body for the rest of the day. I tend to try and have soup, salad or fish and green veg as my evening meal – all to help my sleep.
And if you are hungry before bed try only having a light snack something like a cereal bar, some nuts or a smoothy/shake. (This is important too because being hungry can also keep you awake).
Again, it’s pretty basic but something you can often forget to create a rule for and stick too.
Make avoiding caffeine or sugary drinks a non negotiable past 2pm… even if you have an afternoon slump (Try these tips here to get through your slump instead).
Again caffeine and sugar can stay in your body for up to 8hours so you need to make yourself a deadline to stop drinking it if you want a good nights sleep.
To do this:
Post 2pm replace your caffeine and sugary drinks with herbal teas. There are so many out there now so try a few and find your favourites.
Also, drink more water instead.
If you find this difficult squeeze some lemon or lime into it (or add any fruit) to make it become more of a taste sensation.
(N.B. Just because you’re now not having caffeine or sugar post 2pm don’t go over board in the morning with extras to makeup for it… yes, I’m on to you! Remember, the more caffeine and sugar you put in your body, the longer it will take to process and will stay in your body keeping you awake)
AND my other top tip for drinks is camomile tea.
Drinking a delightful cup of camomile is now part of my bedtime routine. I always have one or two cups in the 2 hours leading up to my sleep time.
Camomile is thought of a mild tranquilliser and sleep-inducer, helping you to switch off and relax. Plus, I also feel like it now works as a sign to my body that as soon as I make a camomile I’m getting ready for bed.
… Cracking this whole sleep thing is a lot to do with your mindset as well as your behaviours.
For 100’s of year lavender has been renowned for helping you to relax and induce sleep… and it definitely works for me.
It’s an easy way to also turn your own bedroom in to a spa like sanctuary to help you feel good and relaxed before you go to sleep.
To do this:
Invest in as much lavender as you can 🙂
I personally use a lavender spray on my pillow and duvet every night; have a lavender candle in my room; use lavender oil on the pressure points on my wrist and behind my ears… and finally also have a room defuser that pumps out lavender for 3 hours when I go to sleep every night.
Yes, it’s official … I’m a lavender junky.
You don’t need to go to this extreme but I would definitely recommend starting with a sleep spray which you can buy (I use ‘This Works Sleeps Spray’)… or you can make one yourself by using water and lavender oils.
We all tend to toss and turn before we finally go to sleep. However, one thing I’ve found that massively helps is spending 15 minutes breathing…with purpose.
(I say with purpose because I’m fully aware we all breathe, thank you!).
Once you’ve gone through your routine and finally made it into bed,
You need to continue to slow yourself down and switch your brain off so you can sleep.
Just because you’ve stopped moving around and close your eyes once our in bed doesn’t mean your body and brain aren’t still in action mode.
(Like when your in a car and you take your foot off the accelerator, the car doesn’t just suddenly stop…. the same applies for your mind and body).
Your breathing is key to help you to apply your own brakes so you can finally stop and get to sleep.
To do this:
When you get in to bed lie flat on your back with the lights off.
Tense your whole body as tight as possible – hold this for 5 seconds and then let go. (This helps create that sinking feeling and letting go off tension in your body).
Place your hands gently over your nose and mouth, almost creating a cup shape.
Now breath in through your nose focusing on filling your stomach with air first, then your lungs.
Then exhale slowly focusing on deflating your stomach followed by your lungs.
On each inhale and exhale count how long they take – and as you repeat this focus on lengthening each breath.
After you’ve done this for 5minutes continue your elongated breathing and place your hands gently by your sides.
Now start to give yourself a body scan.
Start at your feet and focus on relaxing these and switching them off. Then work up from your toes to your legs, stomach, chest, arms, hands, neck, mouth, eyes and forehead.
Then take a final few deep breaths in and out and you should be now in the perfect mode to sleep.
This process not only helps your body to relax but also concentrating on your breathing, it quietens your mind and helps this switch off too.
Some other top tips to help you succeed with this….
i) If you invest in some lavender oil – place a small dab of this in to your hands to breath in when you inhale and exhale… again this works like magic to get you to relax
ii) If your brain is still going at 100mph with a million thoughts from the day when you’re trying to do this breathing exercise then try playing some relaxing music while you go through this. I’ve found this makes a huge difference.
And that’s it!
It might sound a lot but these steps to sorting your sleep out are really easy to do and something YOU can begin with today.
So together, let’s make your sleep a priority to getting YOU feeling good and being at your best this week… before we move on to tackle anything else.
1)Going through this routine step by step on my Instagram stories to help you each night this week (you can find it here);
2)Sending some additional tips out to our subscribers that will help even more (you can receive this by clicking ‘sign me up’ on this page)
3)Answering any questions you have in our Facebook Group (which you can join here), which is where I’ll be motivating you too to crack this workout this week.
I’ll look forward to hearing what a difference this sleep workout makes to how you feel (warning: YOU could feel like a new woman!)
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