A good sleeping pattern is so incredibly important to our health, and yet, it’s something we still overlook. If sleep is something you’re struggling with, we’ve got some great tips that might just help you get a good night’s rest.
These tips come from Dr Carmel Harrington, founder of Sleep for Health. With these sleeping hacks, you’ll hopefully be feeling more well-rested in no time.
Why is sleep so important?
Being well-rested and maintaining a good quality of sleep is vitally important to both our physical and mental health.
Without adequate sleep, we become more susceptible to cold or flu infections and can develop more long-term risks like certain cancers, heart disease and dementia, according to Dr Harrington.
It’s pretty easy to notice just how much sleep impacts us in our day-to-day lives. If you’ve had a few nights of poor sleep, chances are you’re going to be grumpier, less tolerant and lack motivation.
Having a bad night’s sleep also makes us less inclined to want to exercise and participate in general activities. This dip in energy also affects our productivity and ability to perform because it impairs our overall capacity to think and learn.
Sleep deprivation, according to Dr Harrington, is associated with numerous mental health issues, including an increased risk of depression.
5 sleeping tips to get a better night’s rest
We’re all different, so what affects sleep quality is going to vary from person to person. Some people can have caffeine right up until bedtime, while others will struggle to sleep if they’ve had one coffee in a day.
In saying that, however, here are a few tips from Dr Harrington that can help most of us get a better night’s sleep.
1. Have less alcohol
It’s no secret that alcohol messes up your sleep. If you do decide to have an extra glass of wine, just know that your nightly sleep may be less than optimal.
2. Set the right temperature
This one might be a little trickier than other sleeping tips, but setting the right ambient temperature can really make a difference to your sleep.
You don’t want it to be too hot or too cold, but somewhere around 18°C is ideal. Sitting in temperatures that are too high or too low will make achieving REM sleep difficult.
3. Calm your mind
A busy and anxious mind will always interfere with your sleep, so try dealing with the issues of the day by journaling any concerns you may have.
Try to do this in the early evening and put the book away, so it’s not near you.
4. Have a routine
Establishing a consistent routine regarding what time you go to bed and what time you wake up will help your body get the most out of sleeping.
5. Avoid stimulation before bed
One hour before bedtime you should turn off all technology, dim the lighting in the room and try a relaxation or breathing exercise. You can also have a warm shower which will calm your body down.
Dr Harrington also recommended tracking your sleep with a tracker like a Fitbit, as this will help you get a better idea about the things that affect you most. For example, the nights you consume alcohol you’ll probably observe a higher heart rate and more fragmented sleep.
Fitbit also has an animal sleep profile which gives you a deeper understanding of your own sleeping patterns. From recording your heart rate, oxygen levels and temperature, sleep trackers can give you solid insight into how you sleep. They will also give you personalised tips to help you obtain your most optimal sleep.
Hummingbird breath sleeping hack
It wouldn’t be Lifehacker if we didn’t give you a sleeping hack, would it?
Well, Dr Harrington gave us an incredible hack that will hopefully help send you off to sleep.
The Hummingbird breath, also known as Bhramari pranayama, calms your nervous system and helps create relaxation, focus and stillness.
Here’s how to do the Hummingbird breath:
- Put your fingers on your tragus and push it in, so your ear canal is covered
- Start taking deep breaths in and out
- On the exhale, start humming still with your ears covered
By doing this, you’ll notice that your breath rate will slow, and as a result, your heart rate will also automatically decrease.
This allows for an increased feeling of calmness as your nervous system slows down.
According to Dr Harrington, vibrational humming sounds mimic the sound of ‘om’, which stimulates areas of your brain that are associated with calm. At the same time, the vibrations deactivate the flight or fight response in your brain.
Hummingbird breath doesn’t have to be limited just to before bed, though; you can do it any time of the day when you’re feeling stressed or anxious.
Tips to make you feel more awake during the day
If you’re like me, trying to stay awake from 2:00 – 3:00 pm is like fighting a brick wall.
To make yourself feel less tired during the day, Dr Harrington suggests trying to exercise or expose yourself to bright light, as this will restore alertness.
If you can, try doing an activity that is engaging when you’re feeling tired – this will stimulate the brain.
And before you ask, yes, napping is beneficial. Dr Harrington said that napping during the day can be especially helpful if you’re dragging after a poor night of sleep.
Naps will help you feel less sleepy and have been shown to improve mood, alertness, focus and concentration.
You should, however, only nap for around 20-25 minutes in a dark and quiet place, he highlighted.
There you have it, some sleeping tips to help you get a better night’s rest.