Michele Lazarus became a Solution-Focused Hypnotherapist in 2013 after experiencing how hypnotherapy helped her make changes in her own life. Her past career was as a counsellor and management trainer in a variety of health and social wellbeing roles in the NHS and the not-for-profit sector. Here she offers advice on how to get a good night’s sleep.
How often do you wake up after seven or eight hours’ sleep feeling refreshed and ready to go? If the answer is rarely, it could be time to think about your sleep ‘hygiene’.
Perhaps it’s hard to fall asleep and you lie there frustrated or worrying. Maybe you lie awake during the night, wake up too early or even sleep long and deep but still feel exhausted. If so, your sleep isn’t working at its best.
Research shows the importance of sleep to our wellbeing for more reasons than you might imagine. It helps our body to grow, heal and repair, our immune system to function well, our blood pressure to regulate, risks of disease to reduce and our ability to maintain a healthy weight.
Sleep is also vital for our minds. Memories and learning are consolidated. Those vivid dreams, (whether we remember them or not), are when our brain helps us to find solutions to problems and issues are worked through. After a decent night’s sleep we feel less irritable and anxious, more optimistic and motivated, finding it easier to concentrate and make good decisions.
So, what can we do to improve this all-important function?
- Try to stick to a sleep routine so you go to bed and get up at a similar time every day rather than lying in to catch up at weekends.
- Give yourself time to wind down from the day and prepare to sleep – plan to do something relaxing a couple of hours before bed, preferably in dim lighting. A hot bath helps to bring blood vessels to the surface and cool the body for sleep.
- Make sure you like your bedroom – this might mean de-cluttering, painting it a calming colour, treating yourself to some new bedding.
- Don’t watch the news late at night – it’s usually disturbing and doesn’t help our brain to switch off.
- Don’t take your phone/laptop to bed – that blue light really does interfere with sleep.
- Review and possibly reduce your caffeine and alcohol consumption – both interfere with sleep.
- Enjoy some physical activity during the day – it doesn’t have to be pounding down at the gym! Our bodies need to be tired to sleep well and will benefit from a walk, gardening or whatever you enjoy – try to do something even if you’re feeling exhausted.
- If you’re lying awake worrying or feeling miserable, consciously re-direct your mind to remember some positive moments from your day – it could be the smallest things – lovely weather, a text from a friend, any small achievement, something that made you smile.
- If you have to nap in the day, make it short 20 – 30 minutes.
- If sleep still evades you, it may reflect an overactive stress response – hypnotherapy can help.