Tips to fall asleep! QUICK
As I follow-up on broken springs in my mattress (fortunately still under warrantee) I reflect vividly of my sleep-deprived nights as a night duty nurse!
I recall lying on our make shift beds, an uneven couch or the floor. Cold and uncomfortable…
My feet overlapping the end of the couch…. the hard arm rest pushing into my ankles..
My head on one of those dodgy hospital pillows: lumpy, and covered in plastic.
Or on the floor with the distinct hospital drafts lashing at my face and body…
Every time I flinched I heard a loud crunch in my ear from the pillow… Sigh sleep was HARD to come by.
My mind would be racing from being with a patient in intensive care to urgently trying to sleep. Sometimes we would have just finished resuscitating a patient, and I would be sent on my break.
It was critical that I slept.
I was a poor day time sleeper.
So any minutes captured on night duty meant I could survive my crazy night duty stints.
And with the meagre sixty minutes we received, I needed to sleep QUICK!
Have you felt on the same treadmill…. sleep evades you but you know you need it quickly… as the clock ticks down to your next day at work?
Sleep is so important.
Actually I would go further to say that good sleep is critical for a healthy body and mind.
We certainly know (from research, from measuring hormones) that without sleep people are sub-optimal in happiness, in work and in energy.
I have also been surprised over the years how poor sleepers people are in general, as it was always something I took for granted (until my springs started to play up)!
When giving talks to the corporate world on sleep, a show of hands repeatedly confirmed the following:
50% of people rated their sleep as average but could be better
25% rated their sleep as poor
25% rated their sleep as good.
That is a lot of people walking around with sleep issues.
A recent survey in Australia, reported that 33-45% of people indicate they experience poor sleep.
With 17% missing work due to poor sleep! Ref #1
What I would like to discuss here is how you can fall asleep in a quicker time span.
In my Health Queen Clinic, I find that many people lie awake longer than the deemed normal time of 10-15 minutes. This is called delayed onset of sleep.
The biggest cause is worry, over thinking, wired brain or blood sugar issues.
So to assist in a general way (this is by no means a substitute for a professional health consultation) you can try the following:
Down shift before bed.
Avoid stimulants before bed
Ensure good sleep conditions
Downshift before bed!
Your mind is a systemized computer and it loves routine… Actually your whole body does.
This applies for shift workers too.
Have a routine of sorts that signals to your brain it is “night time.”
Imagine your mind is a big freight train… it needs pulling up before sliding into it’s bed for the night… Not fast tracked in….
I like the easy ap called Head Space. You can download it for free here.
Allow your brain to down shift from work, thinking, and computer work. Especially avoid hand held devices as the light will tell your brain it is morning.
This article has some nice suggestions about mindfulness.
If you want to check your hormones to see if you are confusing your brain, you can order a saliva hormone test and consultation here.
2. Avoid stimulants before bed
This includes avoiding large amounts of alcohol, coffee, energy drinks, metabolism boosters…
Have you gone to bed after a big night only to have a restless sleep? This is often because alcohol is a stimulant but also will play havoc with your blood sugar levels.
If you do indulge make sure you have a nice selection of protein before bed (activated nuts, healthy piece of meat, or bean dip).
Try to avoid coffee after midday and try to avoid energy drinks and metabolism boosters totally!
These are designed to rev your body UP, not down. Even green tea can be too stimulating for some. Try a chamomile tea after dinner to help your body and mind relax.
3. Ensure good sleep conditions
This means from comfortable natural bed sheets ( I recommend cotton, or bamboo), adequate ventilation (some people struggle in air conditioning but will benefit from a window slightly ajar), and a dark quiet room. You can order them on-line here.
If you have to wear ear muffs to bed maybe you are not in the right bedroom for you!
These suggestions sound obvious but they will make a massive difference in your ability to switch off after a busy day.
With my shift work, when I had a sixty minute break for a 12 hour shift, I would imagine being in a hot air balloon, being taken up, up and away.
It was the visualisation that separated my mind from my nursing shift that permitted me to sleep.
Try all of the above and if you need help, please reach out!
REF #1 Sleep Health Foundation Survey 2016 : https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/pdfs/surveys/SleepHealthFoundation-Survey.pdf