This psychological trick could be the key to a better night’s sleep

Struggling to get to sleep because you can’t stop thinking about something you feel you need to deal with right now? A wellbeing expert gives tips on how to cope with this type of life “commotion” in order to sleep better.

We all know how important sleep is for our mental and physical health. And yet, so many of us still find it incredibly difficult to get a good night’s rest. 

Some people wake up at the same time every night. Others can’t seem to nod off at all. And, for a lot of us, anxious feelings constantly interrupt our minds in the darkness of night – especially in the context of a pandemic.

There are plenty of sleep tips to help: don’t scroll through your phone before bed, try and create a daily routine, do some exercise throughout the day and be careful with any afternoon napping.

But if you have trouble sleeping properly because you know you have a stressful situation that needs to be sorted, a wellness specialist has shared her tips on how to “manage your commotion” before bedtime.

Founder of Thera-Sea, Katy Griffin, says we need to approach bedtime like we’re children: settling down, taking toys (phones, laptops) away, dimming the lights, taking a bath, reading a bedtime story and maybe having a hot decaffeinated drink.

And if there’s something challenging playing on our minds – like a difficult conversation we need to have with a friend, family member, colleague or partner – we should try leave it until the morning. 

“Don’t expect to have a stressful hour-long phone conversation, then go to bed feeling relaxed: it’s not going to be possible. Your mind, heart and adrenaline will be racing. This means you won’t sleep well and will wake up the next day feeling pretty horrendous with the situation still on your mind. 

“It then becomes a bit of a vicious cycle: one difficult evening and bad night’s sleep can lead to a bad week.”

Of course, we can’t always control when these tough situations – life’s “commotions” – arise, and we have no option but to deal with them on an evening. If that happens, you need to reset for the night. Griffin advises you do whatever you find relaxing: breathing exercises, a hot bath or meditation.

But what about when you just can’t stop thinking about that thing you want to get off your chest? How are you meant to push it away from your thoughts for a whole night?

Write it down,” says Griffin, “I always keep a notepad under my bed. When I’m running groups on the retreat, you can guarantee I wake up at 2am realising I’ve forgotten something. I just always have that notepad by my bed, especially when things are particularly stressful. Then I just close the notepad and address it the next day.”

Stylist’s Sleep Diaries is a series that takes a deep dive into all things sleep-related. To help us understand more about it, we’re inviting women to track their bedtime routines over a five-day period – and filing these diaries to a sleep expert for analysis. Keep up with the series, along with the latest news and advice on sleep, here.

Images: Getty

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