Hi, I’m just going to preface this article with an introduction… Everyone, this is Lana, Lana, everybody.
Lana is our latest contributor and comes with a wealth of knowledge around all things health and wellbeing. That’s because, not surprisingly, she’s a health and wellbeing coach.
We’ll be hearing plenty more from Lana in the future, right here, helping us do more awesome things to alleviate some symptoms of depression and just make us happier people really.
How to get better in bed…
I’m talking about getting better sleep, of course!
The quality of our sleep doesn’t just affect our energy levels – poor sleep also impacts our brain function and mood. For most people, a good night’s sleep sets you up for a productive, positive, energetic day… just as, conversely, a bad night’s sleep will set you up for a long, slow, painful (and grumpy) session of clock-watching! Start piling one bad night’s sleep upon another, and another, and another…and things get pretty ugly, pretty quickly.
Depression and sleep problems often go hand-in-hand. For some, sleep problems show up as a symptom of depression; while for others, consistent sleep issues cause or contribute to depression. Either way, poor sleep certainly isn’t going to help you feel amazing!
If you’re trying to improve your overall health or mood, a great place to start is by improving your sleep. Although some people may need treatment for depression and/or sleep disorders before they experience any improvement in their sleep, many people will notice significant benefits just from implementing a few simple changes. Here are my tips for getting better in bed:
- Consistency: Keep a relatively consistent bedtime and wake time. Staying up late and sleeping in on weekends can disrupt your routine during the week
- Relaxation/routine: Develop a bedtime routine that is relaxing and familiar. Television, work, computer use, movies and deep/stressful discussions late at night can disrupt sleep. Avoid using any technology for at least an hour before you go to bed
- Reserve your bedroom for sleep: Using your bedroom as an office, living room, or study is not conducive to a good night’s sleep. Banish television, computers, phones and other distractions, reserving your bedroom for sleep and intimacy only. If you can’t fall asleep after about 20 minutes, leave the bedroom and go and do something relaxing before trying again
- Make your bedroom a sanctuary: Eliminate clutter and chaos from your bedroom, so that the space is relaxing and restful. Tidy away mess, and close doors and cupboards before going to bed
- Darkness: Keep your bedroom extremely dark, to tell the body’s light-sensitive clock that it’s time to sleep
- Quiet: Keep your bedroom quiet or use a white noise generator (such as a fan). You can also get apps on most smartphones/tablets for this
- Temperature: Keep a slightly cool temperature in the room – 18-22 C is ideal
- Stimulants: Eliminate stimulants like caffeine and nicotine, especially later in the day
- Alcohol: Although alcohol can make you feel drowsy and help you go to sleep, once you fall asleep, alcohol disturbs sleep patterns and often reduces sleep quality. Avoid alcohol completely if possible, or at least limit your consumption (in small quantities) to the early part of the evening
- Fullness: Eating a dinner that makes you overly full can disturb sleep. Eat slowly (to give the message of fullness time to travel from your stomach to your brain), and try to stop eating when you are no longer hungry, but not yet full
- Exercise: Regular exercise has huge benefits for sleep. It will also help with energy levels during the day (once you’re in a regular habit)
- Magnesium: A magnesium supplement can improve sleep quality. An Epsom salt bath (or foot bath) before bed also provides magnesium
- Meditation: Incorporate meditation (or another relaxing practice, such as yoga) into your day
- Avoid catastrophising: Catastrophising is when we exaggerate or worry excessively about an undesirable outcome. Although a bad night’s sleep isn’t any fun, worrying about how bad the next day will be, or getting overly anxious about needing to get to sleep, will only make sleep more elusive. If you can’t sleep, get out of bed, do something relaxing (that doesn’t involve technology), and try again a little later
It’s hard to go into your day feeling positive and ready to take on life when you’ve had a bad night’s sleep. We don’t expect our phones or computers to keep working forever without recharging them, and we can’t expect ourselves to either. We owe it to ourselves (and to the people who have to deal with us!) to do our best to get the rest we need. If you’ve tried all the tips above, and you’re still struggling to get a good night’s sleep, please seek professional help – you don’t have to keep fighting alone.
For more health and wellbeing advice, visit Lana Vernon – Health Coach at www.lanavernon.co.nz.