How to Have the Best Sleep of Your Life
Doesn’t it feel great to wake up in the morning feeling refreshed, energised and well-rested? Ready to face the day with enthusiasm and clarity?
A few years ago, these mornings were few and far between for me.
For something as seemingly easy as sleeping, I really struggled to do it!
Either I couldn’t fall asleep because my mind was too busy planning for the next day, or I was waking up hours before my alarm went off and becoming more and more frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t go back to sleep.
The noisy neighbours wouldn’t be quiet.
The light from the moon was too bright.
A possum was scratching around on the roof.
A nightmare became too intense.
I forgot to put my phone on silent and notifications woke me up (but not enough to actually switch it off).
Or, my personal favourite; the first week after we brought our puppy home and kept him next to our room so we could comfort him if he woke up… Which turned out to be at least ten times a night. Getting out of bed at 6am for work the following mornings was interesting (to say the least!).
For some, sleep might come naturally. For others, it can be difficult to varying degrees. This post features my favourite sleep tools and showcases some awesome sleep resources to help you get the best sleep of your life!
Nine Important Things to Consider Before You Go to Bed Tonight
1. Are your curtains fully closed?
I know this sounds simple, but I’ve woken up a number of times unnecessarily because of light outside (car headlights, the moon, automatic sensor lights). Make sure your curtains are completely closed and use more material to block out light at the top and bottom if you need to.
2. Have you written down persistent and important thoughts?
If there are thoughts which might keep you awake at night, write them down before you go to bed and remind yourself that they’ll be there in the morning when you’re more ready to deal with them.
3. Is your bed made?
A survey in the US found that people who made their beds were 19% more likely to report having a good night’s sleep. When you get out of bed in the morning, simply pull the sheet and covers up and tuck it in as much as you like.
4. Have you disconnected yourself from technology?
Try not to leave this until the last minute! Social media and late night emails are notoriously difficult to disconnect from, so give yourself enough time to do everything you need to do before you head to bed and refrain from checking again until the morning.
5. Are you managing any pain or discomfort?
Suffering from back pain after long days at work? It might be time for a massage or a yoga session. Period pain? Tuck yourself in bed with a hot water bottle. Headaches? Make sure you drink enough water during the day and give yourself a neck rub to release any tension.
6. Do you have a relaxing bedtime ritual?
My favourite things to do before I head to bed include gently massaging a night mask on my face, brushing my hair and doing a few slow neck and shoulder rolls. You might like to try a slow and soothing yin yoga practice, a warm bath, a massage, meditation, or a cuddle with a loved one.
7. Have you eaten enough to feel satisfied (but not too full)?
It’s important that you don’t go to bed feeling hungry, but also that you don’t feel full. You might like to try eating dinner earlier, or having smaller portions if you often go to bed feeling bloated.
8. Does your bedroom feel safe and comfortable?
If you’re dreading going to bed for any reason (uncomfortable mattress, unclean bedsheets), then try to address these problems in a way which feels right for you. Buy a better mattress, change your sheets regularly, or use your pillows to support your body (I do this both for comfort and because it makes me feel secure!).
9. Have you checked the temperature of your bedroom?
If it’s a cold night, make sure you have enough blankets (and perhaps a spare in case you wake up during the night and need it!) and if it’s warm, you might like to turn on the air conditioner or fan.
My personal top tips for a great sleep
TIP ONE: Don’t drink large amounts of liquid after dinner (especially if you have a small bladder, like me!).
TIP TWO: Use noise to help you sleep. I rarely slept through the whole night until I started leaving my fan on, which blocked out most other noises. I now use an app called Relax Melodies to play sounds like an oscillating fan and rain on the roof all night until my alarm goes off in the morning.
TIP THREE: Try to prevent yourself from overheating. As soon as I get too hot while I sleep, I start having weird dreams and nightmares. If this happens to you as well, you might like to sleep with a top sheet instead of a doona, or turn on a fan.
TIP FOUR: Avoid caffeine and excessive sugar before bed. I don’t drink coffee or black tea after 3pm in the afternoon and I avoid anything too sugary after dinner. This is what works for me and my body and I encourage you to explore and understand what works for you.
Mindfulness, Meditation and Not Counting Sheep
I can’t tell you how many times I tried counting sheep to help me fall asleep and not once did I actually drift off! In fact, I often felt more frustrated and annoyed afterwards because it never worked, which made it even harder to fall asleep.
If falling asleep at night is a struggle for you, then you might like to try mindfulness techniques and meditation. These strategies have been far more powerful for me than counting sheep!
Two Powerful Mindfulness Techniques for Sleep
Technique One: Breathing Exercises
Tuning in to my breath is one of my favourite ways to relax and fall asleep. I have a number of breathing practices to try (depending on how much my mind is racing!), but a super simple one to try is the breathing waltz. This is a technique I learned during my time as a Helpline volunteer at the Anxiety Recovery Centre and it really resonated with me.
Inhale for the count of three, hold your breath for the count of three, then exhale for the count of three. Whenever your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the exercise and re-focus on your breath.
Technique two: Body Scan
Bring your attention to your feet, simply noticing how they feel. Move your attention slowly from your feet up your legs, over your torso, your arms, your neck and your head and face. Take your time and if you notice any areas of tension, consciously relax that part of your body. There are many wonderful body scan audios to help guide you through this exercise if you’re finding it difficult on your own.
More Great Sleep Resources
Sleep Talk Podcast
You’ll discover episodes about being too busy for sleep, cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia, dreams and heaps more! It’s a professional and interesting podcast to help you understand more about getting great sleep. You can check it out here.
This peaceful and tranquil video is helpful for me, especially when I’m finding it difficult to concentrate on my own meditations or mindfulness practices. Having the visual to focus on helps slow down racing thoughts and discover the space I need to calm down for sleep.
I hope you've enjoyed this article and that it helps you get the best sleep of your life! I would be so grateful if you could take a moment to use the share buttons below to help me share this article:)