Do you find yourself nodding off watching the tv and then can’t get to sleep when you finally go to bed? Three hours later you’re awake and need a trip to the loo, followed by another hour of tossing and turning. The next morning you’re exhausted when the alarm goes off. In fact, you feel even more tired than you did before you went to bed. If that’s you then you need to read on to discover the best sleep plan.
Good quality sleep allows for the healing processes to take place and has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. While poor sleeping patterns leaves us more susceptible to infection and can lead to inflammation. Is a good night’s sleep such a mystery?
In the 21st century, man has made amazing scientific discoveries and built incredible structures, but our bodies continue to work to a primal clock. Circadian rhythms govern physical, mental and behavioural changes around our 24-hour day. They respond to light and darkness, day and night. Even the LED digital time on a clock can trigger the rhythm to tell us it’s time to get up.
Our sleep pattern follows 90-minute cycles and ideally, we all need 4 to 5 sleep cycles a night. Seven and a half hours sleep is a good rule to adopt, this is 5 cycles but with today’s lifestyle that can be near on impossible. This is where putting a sleep plan in place might help you.
If you want to get up at 6.00 am work backwards to establish the time that you need to be going to bed. If you want to be awake by 6.00 am then time to be in bed by 10.30.
How to set up your own sleep plan
The best plan will be consistent but allow for flexibility.
- Drink plenty of fluids through the day to hydrate as dehydration can cause you to wake in the middle of the night.
- Cleanse your face a couple of hours before so you’re not too tired to remove make up.
- Take a warm bath or do some yoga.
- Don’t drink alcohol or eat during the hour before you go to bed.
- Meditate or read for a short time and try to leave the stress of the day behind. You could try the brief meditation technique mentioned in the section on stress. Allow your mind some time to calm down, if something pops into your head then make a note and forget about it until tomorrow.
- Kick the blue light habit. Personal mobile devices have given us great freedom and flexibility in both our work and personal lives. The downside is mobile addiction, the average person checks their device 85 times a day and up to a third check in the middle of the night.
- It’s well documented that light from electronic devices can disturb sleep patterns. If you wear a fitness device 24 hours a day, try leaving it outside the bedroom for a few nights to see if your sleep pattern improves.
- Night-time light in the bedroom will stimulate the circadian rhythms and trick you into waking up too early. You could buy an eye mask or invest in black out curtains or blind.
- If you have a dimmer switch, turn down the lights, darkness naturally stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Go for an old-fashioned alarm clock without a digital display or try a daylight alarm clock. I absolutely love mine, the light starts with a beautiful deep amber hue and gradually gets brighter to replicate dawn at a pre-set time. There are versions that include a sunset, and recordings of waves, tones or music to wake you up. So instead of waking up to the blare of an alarm in the dark, you wake up gently to a warm summer glow.
- Be consistent with your sleep plan but don’t stress out if you miss on a few days.
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Content taken as an excerpt from The Youth Plan »
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