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How to get good quality sleep

Good quality sleep can be hard to come by in our fast paced, stressful lives. A common lament seems to be óìI feel knackered but I am just not sleeping!ó Many people are falling asleep ok but are waking frequently and are sometimes not able to get back to sleep at all.

Sleep deprivation makes everything tougher – emotionally and physically – so here are a few tips that may help.

Don’t rely on alcohol to sleep

It may seem to help you relax and fall asleep but the fact is that it actually causes sleep interruption. Try a hot drink instead (caffeine free of course) before you turn in. If you are sensitive to the effects of caffeine don’t drink it after 1 or 2 pm as one cup of coffee can take up to 7 hours to work through your system. Camomile can be a particularly effective sleep aid. You can also try tart cherry drink (from your local health shop) as it’s high in melatonin.

Eat earlier in the evening

Going to bed on a full stomach is anything other than conducive to a good night’s sleep.

Try to keep your bedroom free of stimuli like computers and TVs

Go to bed to sleep.

Exercise each day

This will dissipate the adrenalin that builds up and keeps you in a state of mild anxiety.

Practice being still each day

Try to get a period of time (even if it is only 5-10 minutes) when you sit in a quiet place and do nothing. Close your eyes and focus on breathing rhythmically and evenly.

Here are some strategies for when you do wake up in the night:

Progressive relaxation

Work through the following areas of your body – contracting and relaxing the muscles in each area as you focus on them. Feet, calves, thighs, glutes, abdominals, chest, shoulders, arms, hands, neck, jaw, forehead. Repeat 2-3 times.

Belly breathing

With your hands on your belly, breathe in for the slow count of 4 making your hands rise. Breathe out slowly for 4. Continue this for at least 10 breaths.

Nostril breathing

Visualise breathing in one nostril and out the other. Then swap nostrils. If you try this you will realise it is impossible to do but that doesn’t matter, but you only need to imagine doing it.

Your favourite place

Visualise a place that always calms you. It could be a garden, a park, a beach, a mountain, it doesn’t matter what it is or whether it is real or imaginary. Recreate that place strongly in your mind, with all the sights, sounds, smells and feelings it evokes. If you are feeling anxious or worrying you might like to repeat some calming phrases to yourself as well such as óìThis will passó óìI am okayó óìAll is welló or whatever resonates with you.

Visit Elly’s holistic health and fitness website for more on how to live a balanced life.

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Elly McGuinness

Elly is an online fitness and wellbeing coach, visit her website (www.ellymcguinness.com) to learn more about living a healthier, happier life.

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