If you’re like me, and maybe a lot of other people under 30 out there, being a night owl isn’t really a choice – it’s a way of life. But the late nights often come with some pretty average shut-eye and the frequent half-asleep head nod at work/uni/during a Zoom call the following day.
And with everything going on right now, it’s probably added a whole other dimension of stress, uncertainty and worry to your mind. SO we’ve whipped up a cheeky list to help your sleep struggles, to make sure you don’t feel like you’re participating in the real life Walking Dead tomorrow.
#1 Take An Evening Shower Or Bath Slightly Before Bed
There’s possibly nothing more satisfying after a long day than a fabulously warm shower or bath. But while it might feel natural to get home (if you’ve even left it), take a load off and jump straight into the shower, it’s actually much better to wait till a little later in the evening to jump in that water haven.
Studies suggest taking a warm shower about one to one and a half hours before you plan to sleep. That way your body has time to adjust to room temperatures just enough before shutting off. Showering a few hours before bed might result in your body floating in and out of a few different temps, and that’s a no-no. Oh and did we mention that showering shortly before bed helps prevent skin breakouts and wrinkles? Goodbye blackheads you bastards.
#2 No Screens Right Before Bed
Yeah look, this one is going to take a bit of training. Goodness knows we love our iPhones, Androids, laptops and TVs, but they’re the number one enemy when it comes to a good night’s rest.
Believe it or not, but back in the ancient times before this whole artificial light stuff was a thing, often people would sleep in two-four hour bursts. And while we definitely can’t live without our gadgets, artificial light has proven to disrupt things like brain wave patterns, relaxation and our overall body rhythm. And to make things worse, breaking that natural rhythm can result in various health issues.
So just shut down your laptop and put your phone on charge a good hour or two before you plan to go to bed. If you need the extra noise or distraction to wind down, chuck on some low-tempo instrumental music – or read a not-to-elaborate book to ease your mind.
#3 Have A Sleep Schedule (On Weekends, Too)
There’s no doubt that the sleep bank is well and truly a thing these days. I know I’ve certainly had my periods of clocking minimal hours during the week and then loading up on weekends – sound familiar? Well trust me, you’ll be in less of a zombie mood if you try and keep a regular sleep/wake up time every day of the week.
Now look, I’m not saying you have to give up the occasional weekend mischief where a 11am Sunday sleep in is required. But just try and make those sleeping patterns more of a one-off than a consistent thing. For example if you go to sleep at midnight and wake up at 7am, try and make a habit of it. Even if you start with waking up at the same time, your body will naturally start to adapt.
#4 Lay Off The Nightcaps
We’ve heard it time and time again, you know that urban myth about how a nightcap (ie. a sneaky wine, whisky or bev) might help us sleep right? Well studies have actually proven that the friendly nightcap can actually do you a lot more harm than it does good. While initially a cheeky glass of red may feel calming and de-stressful, a recent report on alcoholism and sleep suggests that your long-term sleep could be the loser.
Getting into an initial deep sleep might feel pretty easy, but the report suggests that once the lingering alcoholic affect is over, the rest of your sleep may become uneasy. There’s a pretty bloody good chance your breathing will be worse and that could mean snoring big time – and no one wants that. I totally understand alcohol is the friend of world problems right now, but maybe just something to keep in mind.
#5 If You Do Wake Up, Don’t Stress
If you’re a notoriously bad sleeper, or if you just wake up rather occasionally, that’s very normal. It’s never too much fun, but if you do find yourself waking up regularly, don’t worry. There are a few things that can help, so take a few deep breaths and try to stay calm (as frustrating as it might be, I feel you don’t worry.) Resist checking your phone and any other bright lights, try meditating, reading, or even just laying in bed, essentially anything that doesn’t require heaps of focus.
For example try reading for 15-20 minutes, or enough to get your mind off purposely trying to get back to sleep – just try to avoid negative or stressful thoughts (trust me, I know first hand that training is required here). And seriously, just avoid your phone. Seeing a random FB comment pop up, or news headline even, can cause stress. That’s the last thing you need at 3am and can lead to negative affects on your mental health.
Prioritising quality sleep is imperative to managing your health and also ensuring you don’t stress out more than you need to. So make sure you take care of your brilliant self!