Creating a successful sleep strategy is a great way to improve your sleep quality, get to sleep more easily and reduce the impact that poor sleep can have on your health and wellbeing.
What is a sleep strategy?
You use strategies in your day to day life more than you probably even realise it. Some of these strategies will be in the form of procedures at work and others will be far less obvious. A strategy is simply a method that you use to achieve a desired outcome. Like when you call for IT support and they have a flow chart to work through, step-by-step to eliminate the most common problems first. A more natural example of this that you wouldn’t normally think about as a strategy would be your step-by-step process for making a cup of tea – you follow these steps without really thinking about them. You also have more complex subconscious strategies, like how you manage social interactions in different settings and how you react and respond to authority figures.
A sleep strategy is simply the approach you take to encouraging a good night’s sleep. You already have some form of strategy that you use but if you’re reading this then there’s a good chance that it’s not working for you. It could be due to a lack of consistency an/or there may be some simple changes you can make to improve your sleep strategy.
Why is a sleep strategy important?
Sleep is vital to health, wellbeing and effective functioning as human beings. I’ve written more about why sleep matters here. Creating a successful sleep strategy will make it easier to get to sleep and to sleep better resulting in more energy, better memory and cognitive function as well as improved mental and physical health. Sounds pretty important to me. The negative impacts of poor sleep are numerous and far reaching but it does’t have to be that way.
How can building a sleep strategy help you sleep?
Anyone who has raised children will recognise the huge impact that a change in routine can have on many things and especially on sleep. Our bodies like routine, it helps us to function and to maintain internal balance. We are designed to work to natural rhythms and when we disrupt those rhythms and patterns our bodies can struggle to adjust.
We are, by design, creatures of habit. If a dog knows that every time a bell rings it gets food then the sound of the ringing bell will generate salivation as the dog prepares for food. This is known as classical conditioning and we, as humans, experience this and create this for ourselves naturally too. It makes sense really, we learn to respond to when happens around us based on our experiences of what normally follows. So if we create a strategy that works for us, our body will naturally respond to that with restful, quality sleep.
How do I build a successful sleep strategy?
Just like the IT support desk, if you are looking to improve sleep, level one is all about getting the basics right. Only after you have created the right foundation is it worth reaching out for further support.
Getting the foundation right is much like the creating the strategy for the perfect cup of tea. I can’t just tell you what to do – that would make MY perfect drink but you may hate it. So I’ll give you the key factors and you can create the strategy for yourself around that. If you are looking for more detail and guidance on each area you may want to check out my free sleep guide at www.mindaffinity.co.uk/sleepbetter
The fundamentals to consider when creating YOUR sleep are as follows.
Being consistent with when you go to bed and when you get up really helps your brain to know when to prepare for you sleep and when to be active. The idea of “catching up” on sleep at the weekend doesn’t really work well compared to having a good, consistent sleep pattern. This will also increase productivity and energy levels during the day.
Think about the other factors that can impact on sleep. Caffeine in the late afternoon and evening are a bad idea, sugar and other stimulants at night will hinder sleep. Improved diet and exercise are shown to improve sleep quality too.
What you do in the lead up to bedtime can have a huge impact on sleep quality. Winding down as part of your approach to bedtime can help. Avoiding screens and stimuli, maybe even a bath before bed and taking time to relax your thoughts can all help.
It’s not just about what you do at night. Your stress levels at night AND during the day will have an impact on sleep. Not all stress is bad though and when managed well even high stress states don’t have to hinder sleep.
Think about the environment and surrounds where you sleep. Quality bed sheets, a good mattress, the right temperature (15-20 degrees), low lighting and reduced noise can all play their part in improving sleep quality.
If you’re looking for further support in improving your sleep get in touch today mindaffinity.co.uk/contact