Written by: Claire Elmes, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
With the clocks going this weekend in the UK and March being dedicated to Sleep month we have been focusing on Sleep. Do you ever find yourself in bed struggling to fall asleep? Or finding that you are waking up through the night? Many of us struggle with sleep but will put up with it for years without seeking support. Sleep is one of the biggest symptoms we have seen coming out of the COVID19 Pandemic for many reasons and we are on a campaign to help you get your sleep sorted.
If you relate to this, there are some things that could help increase your sleep quality and help identify some steps that you could take to improve your overall wellbeing.
So what steps can we start to take if we recognise sleep could be a problem but don’t know how to tackle it?
1. Look at your Sleep Schedule
Our sleep schedules can make a huge influence on our quality of sleep, and it would be important to have a look at your current routine before and after you head to bed.
For example, it’s important to go to bed and wake up around the same time each morning so that our body clock can get used to the way we want our body to function. If we don’t have a regular time that we are resting, this can create something called ‘social jet lag’ which happens when our body gets confused and has difficulty knowing what the ‘right time’ for sleep is.
For some people setting a regular sleep schedule can seem impossible, and it might be adapting your sleep routine to suit your needs. For example, taking a set time for recovery during the evening before you get ready for bed. Now that Hybrid working has become more common in businesses it is easy to spend hours on computers until late at night, and then go straight to bed. If this is the case, you will likely find it difficult to get to sleep as you have not relaxed and prepared your body and brain. You can check out how to track your sleep in my blog here.
2. Only go to bed when you are sleepy
Going to bed when you are tired can make the difference between you going straight to sleep or staring at the ceiling for hours. If you go to bed whilst you are awake, then your body will find it difficult to adjust to the resting mindset.
You may also wake up frequently during the night, as you may not have achieved the full level of tiredness needed to sleep through the night. This can be like a Balloon, where each activity during the day fills the balloon up, and in order to have a good night’s sleep, you would need this to be full before heading down for the night.
This may take some time to get used to, but for most people, it is much better to stay out of bed until you are feeling sleepy, so that the time in bed before you fall asleep is shorter and your brain can start to learn that when you get into bed this means it is time to sleep.
3. Manage stress before going to bed
For those of us who are worriers and overthinkers, it can feel impossible to get to sleep once we enter bed.
How many times have you felt really tired and almost falling asleep but when you get to bed all of a sudden, your thoughts start to wander, and you start to process your day. All of the different tasks that you need to complete for the next day, and it feels like it will never stop?
If you relate to this, it might be time to find some time within your evening routine to work on these thoughts. Find an activity that works for you whether that is writing a list, journaling, or another technique. It’s best to get these thoughts out earlier in the night before you go to bed so that once you get to bed you can set off to sleep peacefully.
4. Make your sleep environment work for you
One small step you can make to increase your sleep quality is by changing small variants in your environment so that this is most comfortable for you. For example, have you ever tried to sleep in a room that is too hot or too cold? It can be difficult to fall asleep when your body is not relaxed, so it's important to consider the temperature as well as the light levels and noise levels.
If you work from home, it is also a good idea to separate your work and rest environments, as this is a good way to get your brain to associate your bedroom with rest. This will also allow you to set boundaries in terms of your work-life balance and keep your bedroom a work-free environment.
5. Hire a Coach or Reach out for specialist support
If you are struggling to find a sleep routine that works for you, or you find yourself struggling with energy levels during the workday you may wish to explore some further options to help guide you through the process. CBTi is the treatment programme we use for insomnia. Make sure someone you choose is trained in offering the support you require. Often we need to look at what is the cause of the sleep issues and may need to treat them in parallel. By treating the cause and the symptoms your sleep can and will improve. Many businesses are taking advantage of sleep webinars to support their staff.
Want to find out more, take a look at my free Sleep Well, Feel Better webinar here.
Claire Elmes, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Claire Elmes is the founder of Inspire You and is passionate about work-life balance. Having experienced burnout, Claire is dedicated to empowering people to work through stress and anxiety, traumatic life events, shift mindset, regulate emotions, gain clarity, and develop a stable routine. Through coaching and therapeutic techniques, Claire helps people tap into their potential and transform their lives for the better. Since Covid 19, Claire has recognized many companies are changing how they work and is supporting them to develop innovative well-being strategies to prevent staff burnout and help teams thrive, not survive. Claire provides companies with regular well-being support on a wide variety of topics such as: "How to avoid burnout", "How to make time in your week for what matters", "How to stop overthinking", "How to improve sleep", " How to manage imposter syndrome," "How to be the best version of you", to name just a few. Claire's mission is to empower the emotional well-being of staff and bring the fun back into work life.