Top 7 Sleep Hacks to Relieve Insomnia
When "good sleep hygiene" isn't enough, it's worth exploring new and different ways to get your sleep back into balance.
Do you find your sleep has been adversely affected by lockdown?
Do you find your work hours are blending into your home time?
Do you find your colleagues expect you to be available 24/7?
Do you find your screen-time has doubled?
Are you struggling to switch off mentally?
Are you waking up during the night?
Are you waking early, but feeling unrested?
Don't worry, I'm not going to ask you to count your yes's, or put you into a category. I'm here to offer solutions and ease your sleep journey.
Here are my Top 7 Sleep Hacks
Create boundaries and stop working at a reasonable time every day, that is before dinner. Leave a voicemail to say you'll be back in the morning. If you are a senior manager, or the boss, even better. You can lead by example. You can demonstrate to your workforce that you value their wellbeing. We all know that effectiveness and productivity increase when the mind is properly rested.
Prioritise healthy daytime habits to avoid over stimulation. Take a walk "to work" (30 mins around the neighbourhood) to fill your lungs and brain with oxygen. Take vision breaks throughout the day; if you are stuck in endless zoom meetings, try looking into the distance every 20 mins or so. Your eyes will thank you (and you'll be less likely to have to change your prescription after your next eye test).
Check in with the speed of your speech and how fast you eat your lunch. The faster these are, the faster your breath rate, heart rate and the more stress you are placing on your nervous system. Take care of your nervous system in order to avoid lifestyle dis-eases. Whenever you take a toilet break, you could incorporate a 3 minute breathing space. This is a great tool to replenish your energy, rather than reaching for another cup of coffee
Leave your devices alone in the evening. You are already spending considerably much more time being stimulated by electronic devices during the day, and it is essential that the brain can rest for a couple of hours before it's starts the long night of autonomic activity to keep your vital organs functioning optimally.
Exercise; we are physical beings. Take an energising stretch, swish and sway to start your day. Get some cardio exercise into your day (but not too energetic in the wind-down evening phase). Release tension and settle your body by slow-stretching every big muscle group before getting into bed. You can do so with a calming breath - gently constrict the throat as you breathe in and out through the nose. This activates your rest and digest state. Or you can choose a restorative position - lie down with your legs up the wall.
Clear your mind before bed. I like to "free write" - simply get a pen and notebook and write down what comes into your head. Allow this stream of consciousness to drop out of your mind. The more you can de-clutter your mind, the easier it will let you go. If you suffer from chronic insomnia or trauma, then don't prevaricate any longer - see a therapist and/or get some CBT (to reframe unhelpful thought patterns). You would see an orthopaedic surgeon about a knee issue, wouldn't you? Seeing a therapist is much more commonplace than you think; people just don't talk about it much.
Make a commitment to yourself to prioritise your sleep. A lack of sleep is directly correlated to reduced immunity function, mental health issues, cardiovascular risk and Alzheimers. A lack of sleep affects your mood and ability to focus and concentrate. During sleep, you are repairing and regenerating tissues, building muscle and bone, laying down memories and processing experiences of the day.
So, for health's sake, if you can't sleep well, get some help. It's more important than working late, sorry boss!
Fast track to feeling calmer: The 3 Minute Breathing Space
Sit comfortably with a straight spine and feet on the floor
Close your eyes and gently begin to notice your breath
Your body expanding with the inhale
Contracting with the exhale
No need to change anything, just bear witness
Where are you breathing?
Chest? Ribs? Belly?
Gently start to breathe out longer than you breathe in
Extending the exhale
As you breathe in, the diaphragm moves down
As you breathe out, the diaphragm moves up
Bring your attention to your belly
Your breath gently expanding and contracting in your belly
Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in
Breathing out, I know that I am breathing out
Nicky offers Health & Wellness MOTs and Consultations, and specialises in sleep solutions.
She also guides yoga at NOJAM Global Online Studio, and recommends Nozomi's 30 min Qigong class at 10am on Thursdays, and Noz & Maddy's Restorative & Meditation at 6pm on Sundays.
Take a look and book at www.nojamyoga.com. First class free! Sign up for Members' Digital Library (first week free!) or download a video to keep on Shop.