Nurturing November Sleep Well!
1 Get natural sunlight during the day
2 Begin to wind down at the same time each night
3 Park your worries
4 Get some exercise each day
5 Eat your last meal at least 3 hours before bedtime
6 Avoid naps during the day
7 Develop a morning routine
8 Create a restful sleeping environment
9 Leave down your phone at bedtime
10 Be kind to yourself
Nurturing November has arrived! This month we are going to concentrate on ‘Sleep Well’ as part of our Winter Wellbeing Campaign. Following on from our September Eat Well and our October Stay Active self-challenges, it’s now time to take a look at our Sleep Well activities and this month we will focus on ideas and strategies we can use to improve our sleep and further nurture our general wellbeing.
Occupational therapists Mairead Connaughton, Roisin Sinnott, Lorraine Byrne and Sinead Long have devised the 10 Top Tips to Sleep Well and have imparted their invaluable advice to us all on how we can best improve our sleep.
The first tip is that we need to get natural sunlight or daylight, particularly in the morning. This follows on from the good ‘Keep Active’ habits that we have already adopted in October. Have you noticed that your sleep has improved with more exposure to daylight? Making our bedrooms dark by using blackout curtains can also help us to get a good night’s sleep.
Another helpful habit is developing a routine at night time and sticking to it. Consistency is very important to help us to sleep well.
Sleep friendly activities at bedtime can help us to prepare for sleep, for example having a warm bath or listening to relaxing music can help. This preparation can also help us to put aside our worries, which can interfere with our sleep. If worries persist, it can help to write them down and either put them under the pillow or leave them outside the bedroom.
Exercise and diet also help us to achieve good sleep. Exercise can both tire and relax us, particularly if we choose a low-intensity exercise later in the day. Eating our last meal at least 3 hours before bedtime helps us avoid feeling of bloated and too full at bedtime. Substituting herbal teas for caffeinated drinks can also help improve our sleep.
Sometimes we can feel tired after a poor night’s sleep and a little nap beckons. However, the experts advise us not to nap if possible, but to take some exercise instead; and if we do feel that we just have to take a nap, it should be limited to 30 minutes and be taken before 3.00 pm so as not to interfere with our night’s sleep.
Morning routines are also important and morning is an ideal time to get in the daylight that we need to help us to stay well and improve our day. We’re not all morning larks and a spot of clear daylight can lighten the mood and improve the day!
In an ideal world, we would use our bedroom just for sleep and sex! However, this isn’t always possible, as we may have no other choice than to work or study in our bedrooms. A way to combat this is to use dim lighting at night and to put away all signs of work or study at night time. Putting away screens (or using a blue-light filter) later in the day also help.
Last and most importantly, we need to give ourselves a break and go easy on ourselves. Take small steps and gradually introduce changes. It will happen slowly, but it will improve! And if you find that you’re still struggling with your sleep, maybe have a chat with your GP for more ideas on how to improve your sleep habits.
Why not share with us the tips that work for you to help you to sleep? We’d love to hear from you!
Wexford Mental Health Association would like to thank Occupational Therapists Mairead Connaughton, Sinead Long, Roisin Sinnott and Lorraine Byrne for their advice and guidance in helping us to organise our Nurturing November.