It’s a time to refresh and reset after a busy year! A perfect summer holiday always includes late nights, sleep ins and day naps. And usually includes lots of socialising, eating and drinking and being out of your normal routine. However, before we know it its mid-January and we are back to work, and our sleep habits and body clocks are totally out of whack!
Here are 5 simple ways to get your sleep back on track in the new year.
1. Consistency, consistency consistency!
Firstly, in order to promote healthier sleep hygiene having a consistent bedtime and wake up time each day is so important. If we wake at the same time each day, we reinforce our natural circadian rhythms which have been found to improve digestion, immunity, concentration and mental wellbeing. Pick a bedtime and wake up time and stick to it, even on the weekends. Better yet use the sleep app on your iPhone to notify you 15 minutes before it is time to go to bed and wake you up each morning.
2. Take it easy on the coffee
Avoiding caffeine 8 – 10 hours before you plan to go to sleep for the night can be helpful to initiate the onset of sleep. This is especially helpful for someone who struggles to drift off to sleep when they are in bed.
3. Put the phone down
As well as avoiding caffeine it is important to avoid bright lights, especially artificial lights like LED’s, phones and TV’s leading up to bedtime. This is because exposure to blue lights can suppress the secretion of melatonin, which is the hormone that helps our circadian rhythm, makes us feel sleepy and keeps us asleep at night. Using dim lights in the evening or a red light to read will help reduce the melatonin blocking effect that brighter blue lights have.
It is also important to avoid bright lights if you wake in the night. If you find yourself awake in the night, try to avoid the temptation to scroll your phone and avoid turning all the lights on to go to the bathroom. This will help you get back to sleep quicker. If you do wake up often throughout the night, know that this is normal as most people do wake up often during the night at the end of their sleep cycles. If you find it difficult to return to sleep, listening to a meditation on an app like headspace or calm can be helpful.
4. Get outside in the early morning
Exposing yourself to natural sunlight in the early morning is another great way to get your sleep back on track and promotes better night sleep. According to a 2017 study published in the Sleep Health journal people who exposed themselves to early morning sunlight feel less stressed and depressed and sleep better at night as opposed to people who didn’t. When we get out of routine over holidays and weekends with sleeping in and missing that early morning light exposure you are more likely to find it difficult to fall to sleep in the evenings as our circadian rhythm (natural body clock) is out of sync.
5. Keep your room cool and dark!
Lastly, sleeping in a cool, dark room is crucial for better sleep. Darkness is essential for optimal sleep as in the absence of light, a message is sent to your brain that it is time to sleep and helps with the secretion of melatonin. As well as a dark room, a cool room is also important and keeping the room you sleep in around 18 degrees (give or take a few) will ensure you settle into and maintain sleep throughout the night as your body’s core temperature naturally dips.
So, there you have it, five easy tips to get your sleep back on track after the summer break. Start slow and follow one of these suggestions and you’ll start to notice a difference in your overall sleep as you make it into a habit, then gradually implement more into your routine.
Lucy is a qualified sleep consultant and nurse specialising in baby and toddler sleep. She has worked with hundreds of families to help improve sleep and promote happier healthier households.
Get in touch with her via her website www.thesleepscout.com or follow her on Instagram @thesleepscout