Five ways to get a better night’s sleep

Do you need an alarm clock to wake you up in the morning? Does it take 2 cups of coffee to make you really feel awake? Does it take another cup of coffee to keep you going after lunch? Do you look forward to weekends as the days when you can sleep in?  If the answer to any of these questions is, “Yes,” you probably aren’t getting enough sleep.

We spend somewhere between a quarter to a third of our lives sleeping for a reason: we need it. If you want to get the most out of your waking life, make it your goal to get the most out of your sleep. These are 5 ways to get a better night’s sleep.

Take Sleep Seriously

Most of us don’t take sleep seriously unless we have insomnia. When you realise how profoundly sleep affects your quality of life, you’ll take it as seriously as you take diet and exercise. Next time you’re tempted to stay up late studying, watching TV or catching up on your emails, resist the temptation and go to bed. You’ll be happier, healthier and more productive the next day and that first step towards better sleeping habits will set the stage for a better life.

Establish a Sleeping Pattern

The human body is brilliantly designed to naturally follow the rhythms of nature. When darkness falls, the brain begins to release restful chemicals. Electric lights, TVs and other modern conveniences short-circuit our natural bio-rhythms. While disconnecting the house from the power grid might be overdoing it, putting yourself on a sleep schedule that corresponds with the time you have to wake up for work or school is a realistic way to tell your body when it’s time to sleep.

Most of us require 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night. If you wake up groggy, it’s probably because you’re falling short of sleep needs. Try going to bed a little earlier. Turn off all the lights or if you need a dim light, place it near the ground. This acts like a signal to your body that the sun is setting, while an overhead light, even if dim, tells your body it’s daytime.

Exercise

Regular exercise is important for a variety of reasons, one of them being that exercise raises endorphins’ levels. The “feel good” hormones, endorphins relieve stress and induce relaxation. However, heavy exercise also releases adrenaline, so instead of going to the gym at night, get your exercise in the afternoon. Morning exercise does little to improve sleep, so if a better night’s sleep is your goal, get your exercise in the afternoon or early evening.

Exercises like yoga and pilates are ideal, so find a school near you that holds classes in the afternoon or early evening. Once you’ve learned the techniques, you can set your own schedule and enjoy group classes on weekends.

Avoid Alcohol, Caffeine and Smoking

Most of us know that a cup of coffee is the last thing you should drink before bedtime, but did you know that the caffeine continues to work for up to six hours after you drink a cup of coffee? If you drink an afternoon cuppa at 4pm, it will still be affecting you at 10pm and can make getting to sleep difficult. Alcohol does make you drowsy, but it prevents restful sleep, causing “sleep fragmentation,” a condition in which your brainwave patterns “bounce” from deep sleep to the waking or near waking state repeatedly. Nicotine is a stimulant and that “relaxing last cigarette before bed” habit is just the addiction speaking.

The best way to break a bad habit is to replace it with a good one. Contact a herbalist near you and find out which herbal tea blends are best for relaxation before bed.

Unwind Before Bedtime

Our lives are so busy, we find it hard to keep up with all the things we have to do. If you spend your evenings catching up on your bills, worrying about something that you put in the back of your mind at work or even watching a suspenseful or violent movie on TV, you’re creating stress at just the time you should be putting the day’s stresses behind you. Make evening a time of relaxation by reading a good book, listening to music, meditating or doing something else that you enjoy. There’s plenty of time tomorrow to face the world and if you wake up refreshed, you’ll see everything in a brighter light and be more productive, too.

Meditation in particular has been shown to be a great way to bring greater balance into life. As little as 20 minutes twice a day is enough to increase endorphin and other “happy” hormone levels.

About Michelle

A Soul Coach and healer, Michelle is a sought-after speaker and consultant.

She is passionate about her Soul Coaching® practice where she helps burnt-out executives who have lost themselves to rediscover their passion for their lives.

Michelle serves as a mentor for Denise Linn's current on-line professional training courses, "Gateway Dreaming," and "Soul Coaching® Oracle Card Certification" program with Hay House.

Michelle was a contributing author in the award-winning spiritual anthology, Soul Whispers II (Soul Wings Press, Sydney), which was published in October 2010.

With a rich and varied background in the healing arts, marketing, public speaking and writing, Michelle is also a Chakradance™ practitioner (a dynamic, moving meditation to balance and harmonise the chakras.

Michelle runs a successful private practice using these tools to help people "rediscover the sacredness of their lives."

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