Last year I developed pretty severe insomnia which I am happy to report I have been able to largely heal. It’s still an ongoing process with a few bad nights but I generally sleep well now and feel much more in control now I have some wonderful tools at my disposal for helping me when I’m struggling. Sleep is so crucial and underpins everything we do and if you’re not sleeping well you know this to be true! So here are some of my tried and tested techniques for improving your sleep that I found had the biggest impact.
Make sure you have the right nutrients
There are so many different reasons why someone might not be sleeping well but probably one of the easiest to address is making sure you’ve got the right nutrients.
If you are low on B vitamins or Magnesium then this can cause sleep problems and they are common deficiencies. This is a great place to start to help your sleep. Magnesium also reduces cramps and helps anxiety, 2 common sleep disruptors. Taking a food source supplements for these nutrients can be a nice, easy way to help your sleep.
Monitor your caffeine, sugar and alcohol intake
Everyone is different with how these impact their sleep so you may not have to cut them out completely. It is very common however if you have caffeine, sugar or a few drinks near bedtime that it could disrupt your sleep. The best thing to do is test out how these things impact you and then you can make an informed decision. Try a day or two with no caffeine or just one cup in the morning and see how you sleep afterwards. See if a sugar free day or no sugar after lunchtime means you sleep better. Once you know how they affect your sleep you maybe able to make some helpful changes.
Stress is the usually the main culprit if you are sleeping badly. Make sure you are having some time in the day to relax and doing some things to help you unwind. Taking some me time with something like massage, a sound bath*, reiki* or even a nice bath (maybe with some magnesium salts!) can really help.
If you are finding it hard to relax or focus maybe some extra help is needed.
There are loads of different ways to help you process and deal with stress, something which we could all do with lately, so maybe now is the perfect time to seek out some extra help and carve out some time to process and heal. EFT*, mindfulness* and coaching* all have huge benefits for helping you process stress and move your life forward, whilst also offering instruction on techniques you can do yourself whenever you need them. I use EFT * regularly to help me de-stress, process and switch off at night.
Use some switching off techniques
Obviously reducing stress is one of the best ways to help you switch off but in the meantime, there are some other good ways to help your brain switch off.
Meditation is one thing that allows your brain to take the focus away from the thoughts running through your head and allow it to calm. Yoga* often builds this into the practice as well as deep breathing so I’ve found that really helps. There is a free sleep meditation and gentle yoga session* happening this Thursday.
Deep breathing is a great way to soothe your nervous system. 7/11 breathing can be particularly useful. If you’ve not heard of it before, you do deep belly breaths breathing in for 7 seconds and out for 11 (start with 5 and 8 though if you need to build up to that. The counting engages the conscious brain allowing it to focus on something and breathing pulls your body into a calmer space. This is also a great technique to help with anxiety.
Another good way to help you switch off is breathing in and out and letting your body totally relax starting at your toes and gradually working your way up to the top of your head, breathing out all the tension in every muscle as you go.
Herbal teas such as chamomile, passion flower and lavender can really help too. My personal favourite though is lemon balm. Again this is great for anxiety too. If that’s part of the reason your sleep isn’t great then it’s also useful during the day, not just before bed.
Without some physical exercise in your day it’s harder for your body to be ready to sleep at night. This can be pretty tough to do if you’ve not been sleeping well but it doesn’t have to be intense exercise to make a difference. Yoga* or a walk outside can be really helpful for improving sleep quality. You can also combine exercise and meditation or mindfulness to help you de-stress with kundalini yoga*, forest bathing* and mindful walks.*
Work on your sleep cycle
Waking up at and going to bed at the same time each day can really help your body get into a good sleep cycle and helps you sleep deeper.
Skullcap is a herb that’s really good for helping you regulate your sleep. It boosts your melatonin at night so you sleep more deeply and boosts your serotonin during the day so you’re more awake when you need to be. This means that, unlike other sleep herbal remedies, you can take it at anytime of day, but it won’t help if you’re struggling to sleep during the day because of something like shift work. It’s a bit harder to find in herbal tea so sometimes it’s better to get it in a tincture.
Watch your screen time
Screen time, particularly before bed, can really stimulate your brain making it harder to switch off. Try another pre bed activity if you can, ideally something relaxing like meditation. If you have a blue light filter on your phone make sure you switch this on in the evening to help decrease the amount you brain is stimulated.
It’s worth spending some time making your bed a cosy place to be. Decent matress, comfy pillows, warm bedding or a silky eye mask can really help you relax into sleep.
*These therapies are available online or through distance healing.
This is not an exhaustive list but these have really helped me and others I’ve recommended them too so hopefully they will help you too.
I’m currently offering EFT sessions online to help with sleep coupled with nutritional guidance and details on other self-help techniques (as well as a very sympathetic ear!) if you need some extra help. Just get in touch for more details and to book a session with me.