D.H. Lawrence once referred to the sensation of waking from a good sleep as akin to ‘a new-opened flower… new created.’ Hands up if you NEVER feel like a new-opened flower on waking? Me neither.
I have been giving the old shut-eye a little more attention of late as I have started to toss and turn something chronic come dawn, which not only leaves me tired but also impairs my concentration, immune system and appearance. As I cannot extend my time in bed, I am instead trying to introduce the below habits to make the most of the hours I do have between the sheets…
OBEY THE LIGHT / Your body is wired to sleep during the night and be awake during the day. To ensure you are wakeful during the day, increase your light exposure by sitting as close to daylight as possible at your desk and trying to get a minimum of 20 minutes of fresh air during the day.
At night, avoid the television and computer, and substitute bright lights for low-wattage bulbs. Cortisol (sometimes referred to as the stress hormone) is receptive to light so sticking to the above will help you feel peaceful and rested come bedtime. If you keep late hours and need to sleep during the day, try blocking out the light with an eye mask.
STICK TO A SCHEDULE / If you’re getting the right amount of sleep, you should wake without an alarm clock, as you did when you were a child. Try to go to bed at the same time each night and, if you need more sleep, alter your schedule in 15 minute increments, until you feel alert on waking. If you feel you need more than you can manage during the night, have a 30 minute nap during the day to top up rather than sleeping longer in the morning (this will disrupt your sleep-wake rhythm).
DON’T COUNT SHEEP / Instead, ensure you feel relaxed by the time you get into bed. I now try to either follow an evening yoga routine or have a bath in a relaxing bath oil – currently I’m using Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax Bath & Shower Oil.
By the time you are in bed you ought to be feeling sleepy – don’t disrupt this by watching television or using your iPhone. Instead, pick up a book and read by a dim lamp or candlelight until you drift off.