If you’re a midlife woman who’s found that your sleep has changed in recent years, and not for the better, read on to discover 10 tips to help improve your sleep.
Sleep is so important for our mental and physical wellbeing, and our quality of life overall. And it’s recommended that as an adult we sleep between seven to nine hours every night to rest and repair both our mind and body.
What are the benefits of sleep?
- Physical rest and recuperation
- Restoration of our immune system
- Memory formation
- Emotional regulation
- Clearing out brain waste products
What is the negative impact of not getting enough sleep?
- Poor concentration
- Poor memory
10 Tips to Help Improve Your Sleep
1. Have a Set Time to Start Winding Down in the Evening
Ideally avoid electronic devices at least an hour before bed, as mobiles, tablets and computers emit blue light that stops sleep. Reading, listening to gentle music or a podcast, taking a warm bath or doing a sleep meditation can all help if you have trouble falling asleep.
If you often lie awake worrying, perhaps set aside time before going to bed to write a to-do list for the next day. This can be a good way to put your mind at rest. So, keep a notepad and pen near your bed.
2. Go to Bed at the Same Time Every Night Even at Weekend
Your body clock will recognise the pattern. And you’ll start to feel sleepy at the same time every night.
3. Create the Right Sleep Environment
It’s generally easier to drop off when it’s quiet, dark and cool. Although the right sleep environment is personal. So try different things and see what works for you.
Silence is golden when it comes to sleep for many of us, so wearing earplugs, putting your phone on silent (or out of the room entirely) can keep things quiet.
Good curtains or blinds can help to keep a room dark. Even consider black-out blinds or black-out linings for your curtains. Also, avoid unwanted lights by keeping clocks out of view and phones facing down.
Make sure your room is the right temperature for you and well-ventilated, as a cool room is usually better to sleep in than a hot or stuffy one.
4. Do Not Force Sleep
If you’re tired and are enjoying the feeling of resting, then sleep may naturally take over. But if you can’t sleep after 15-20 minutes and are still wide awake, rather than get frustrated, get up and sit in a comfy place and do something relaxing, like reading a book or listening to quiet music with a dim light. Only go back to bed when you start to feel sleepy.
5. Get Up at the Same Time Every Morning
By getting up at the same time every morning your body clock will recognise the pattern. And you’ll wake up more alert every morning. We can adjust our body clocks by an hour from day to day. But lengthy lie-ins can interfere with your internal rhythms. Turn on the lights, eat and shower at the same time every day too to train your body to associate those actions with the morning.
6. Get Some Daylight First Thing
As soon as you wake up, aim to get lots of light into your eyes. This tells the brain that the day has begun and banishes the sleep hormone melatonin. It also activates the CAR, the cortisol awakening response.
Ideally, get out in the daylight in the first hour after waking.
7. Moderate Exercise in the First Part of the Day
The earlier in the day you exercise, the more likely it is you’ll fall asleep at a reasonable hour. Simply by being active, getting a few extra steps will help to increase the speed at which you fall asleep.
8. Avoid Vigorous Exercise in the Evening
Regular exercise helps with sleep. But do it earlier in the day. And avoid anything too energetic in the 90 minutes before bedtime if you find it stops you from sleeping. Some people find that as exercise increases the body’s adrenaline production, it can make it more difficult to sleep if you exercise just before bedtime.
9. Watch What and When You Eat and Drink
It’s recommended that you would aim to eat at least 3 hours before bed and avoid spicy or fatty foods or anything that might cause indigestion. Ideally, avoid alcohol before bedtime too as it can impact the quality of your sleep. Although alcohol can make you feel tired and can help you initially to get to sleep, it often impairs the quality of your sleep. Plus it makes you more likely to wake up during the night as the effects wear off. And you may need to go to the bathroom frequently or wake up dehydrated to drink water.
10. Recognise Most People Wake Up Once the Night
Waking up is a perfectly normal part of the sleep cycle and usually, nothing to worry about.
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(Image | Rona Wheeldon)