What did it feel like when you last woke up after having had a good night’s sleep? In this article we’ll discuss the benefits of float therapy for sleep, how to create an evening routine, form sustainable positive habits, and build a sleep sanctuary.
Why sleep is so important
Having a consistent good night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health; it has a direct impact on physical, mental, and emotional performance. When we dream, the brain digests and assimilates information; that’s how we learn, and recover. It is one of the first questions I ask new clients as a Health Coach, and it is something that I have struggled with for many years.
Build sustainable positive habits
Before I dive into the various health practices that can improve your sleep it is important to consider how to form long lasting habits. This is where behavioural scientist BJ Fogg comes in (if you haven’t read his book, ‘Tiny Habits’, I highly recommend it). The main findings that I took from the book is that firstly, we need to start with one habit at a time and start small, rather than beginning with massive changes that are unsustainable. Secondly, tie the new habit onto an existing habit, so that you are more likely to remember. If you have some form of accountability, even better. Thirdly, when you carry out the new habit, congratulate yourself for the changes you have made!
Create an evening routine
When you first wake up in the morning, try to get outside (even if it is a cloudy day) and get some sunlight on your body. This will help to kickstart your circadian rhythm, the body’s internal 24-hour biological clock, that regulates hormone levels, body temperature, digestion, and sleep. Caffeine can be used in a positive way, however, often we drink too much, too late in the day, and this affects sleep quality. Caffeine has an average half-life of 5 hours. So, 5 hours after you have had caffeine, half of the caffeine will still be in your body. Experiment with slowly reducing it, and look for alternatives.
Having a relaxing routine before bed can really help you drift off quicker. If we are rushing around all day, and then jump straight into bed, our brain can often be full of ideas. I am not expecting everyone to have a one-hour bedtime routine as we all lead different lives, but try and start with a 5 minute routine and gradually increase it over time. There are many things that you can do before bed to wind down, what works for you? One of my favourite ways to bring myself into a parasympathetic state, is to do an evening float therapy session. The magnesium salts, restful position of my body, and focusing on my breath all help my body and mind to relax. Combining this with some yoga poses, and writing down my thoughts, can really help me get a good sleep.
Build a sleep sanctuary
Is your bedroom set up in a way that allows you to have the best sleep possible? Artificial light can suppress melatonin, our sleep hormone, and keep us awake, so try to remove all technology from the bedroom. I use a dim light or a candle if I am reading or writing before bed. Consider buying a good quality sleeping mask as it is hard to get all of the light out of your bedroom. Noise can easily disrupt your sleep too. I recommend using soft silicone ear plugs that can mould to your ear as they do a good job of blocking out sound.
We all know how hard it can be to sleep in a hot room. Think about investing in a bedroom fan, opening your windows (if it is not too loud outside) or, if it works for you, have a cold shower before bed to lower your body temperature, I swear by it. Lastly, improve the air quality of your bedroom by bringing in a houseplant or two.
I often tell my clients to keep a sleep diary and notice patterns as to what is working for them, and what is not. What small steps can you start to do this week to improve your sleep? Remember, it is about progress over perfection.
Charlie is a Certified Health Coach, Yoga Studio Manager, and host of The Practice of Health podcast. He is passionate about supporting people to eat better, improve their sleep, move more, and reduce their stress by focusing on the foundations of holistic health that are simple and accessible to practice.