Whether I’m in a field wrapped in a bivvy bag, slumped against a window on a train or being chucked around a cabin on an ocean rowing boat I’ve always been a great sleeper.
I can fall asleep almost anywhere.
I’m a nine-or-ten-hours-a-night kinda girl. I go to bed, fall asleep within minutes and sleep all the way through. It’s total bliss.
I have a few friends who sleep terribly and it got me thinking, ‘what do I do that makes me sleep well?’ and ‘what tips could I pass on?’
The tips I share below are very simple. There’s no magic formula or potion that will work within just one night. But the key to success is discipline and consistency.
Have the discipline to do the steps and the consistency of doing them each night.
I have put the steps in order of effectiveness, and not the order in which they are done.
1. Do Not Take Your Phone to Bed!
The exclamation mark says it all.
This is by far the most important tip of all!
We all know that technology and the blue light keeps our brains awake. Whether you’re wearing the trendy light omitting glasses or not, generally speaking, if you’re using technology you’re not allowing your brain to relax. (FYI: social media is NOT a way to relax!)
I’ve been charging my phone away from my bed since November 2016. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made!
If it’s possible, put your phone into flight mode and charge it in a separate room to your bedroom. Even the landing or hallway will do.
If you can’t do that then putting your phone on silent or the ‘Do Not Disturb’ setting, and plugging it in away from your bed is an excellent choice.
“But I use my phone as an alarm clock,” I hear you say.
Buy an alarm clock.
Do you wear a smartwatch with the notifications on?
Well, that’s your own fault. No sympathy here.
You know what to do. Take the darn thing off before bed!
Maybe you can’t bear the thought of missing an emergency call from a loved one?
Set ‘Favourite’ contacts in the ‘Do Not Disturb’ setting on your phone so it rings in an emergency.
Whatever you do, do not take your phone to bed!
No matter how much discipline you have, you’ll end up scrolling.
It’s one of the simplest, most effective ways to get a better night’s sleep.
2. Nighttime Routine
For the past few years I’ve had an evening wind-down routine; night-time tea, remove make-up, brush teeth, rub arnica massage balm into achy muscles, put phone in flight mode, read a book in bed.
When I’m on my adventures, I follow a different process; brush teeth, stretch, put on ‘sleep’ music (see point 3 below), put on an eye mask (see point 4 below), do box breathing.
I’ve done this routine when camping, rowing across the Atlantic & hiking.
When I’m at home and being kept awake by noise, I do my ‘adventure night-time’ routine.
When setting a routine, the body and brain knows it’s time for sleep – a little bit like a baby.
Do the same simple steps in the same order and it trains the mind and primes it for rest.
I can’t recommend a sleep routine enough.
Other night-time routine ideas could include:
– Essential oil on your pillow
– A 2-3 minute stretch routine
– Meditation or breathwork (there’s a great breathing exercise for sleep on the Shift State breathing app)
– A nighttime drink – sleep tea, turmeric milk, or something similar. Make the same drink each time and only have it at night.
– Enjoy a bath or shower using a relaxing bath soak – only use this product in the evening before bed so you associate it with sleep.
3. Sleep Music
I’ve got a sleep playlist that I only listen to when I am going to sleep. In fact, it’s an audiobook with music. I start from chapter 2 and am usually asleep within one track.
Sidenote: This is a really interesting book! Chapter one with all the info in is only 1 hour 18 minutes and is very educational.
When I hear this music my brain knows it’s time to sleep and automatically relaxes.
I listened to this music in my 2 hour off shift on the Atlantic rowing boat. I’d be in a tiny, damp cabin, being thrown around in the huge swells, but I’d put that music on and would be asleep in a flash.
4. Eye Mask
This is another simple secret recipe for sleep success.
Use something to cover your eyes. This not only blocks out daylight but to also acts as a signal to your brain that it’s time to sleep.
Instead of using an eye mask, I use a Buff that’s cut in half. It’s a total winner!
I put that over my eyes and my brain goes ‘ok, we know what’s going on’ and I fall asleep.
Team this with the music tip and I could fall asleep on a bucking broncho!
An eye mask was discussed in my Ultra Marathon video with marathon runner Jordan Foster as a Top 5 Item for her packing list.
After a busy day, it can be tricky to wind down, with the brain holding onto jobs to do and ideas, conversations we’ve had, things we should and shouldn’t have done, etc etc etc.
I find writing whatever is in my head really helps get it out of my brain and onto paper.
This sort of comes under the journalling category and is also a very powerful tool for self-therapy.
There’s no need to follow any rules, just write what you want or what comes out of your head and onto the paper.
If you’d like some ideas on what to include, try:
– 3 amazing things that happened that day
– what would you do differently the next day?
(I took this idea from the Tools of Titans book by Tim Ferriss – this is basically my bible!)
Include 5 minutes of this into your nighttime routine and it’s shouldn’t take long to get a better nights sleep.
6. Positive Reinforcement
I could have called this section ‘affirmations’, but that word is not taken seriously sometimes.
Whatever word we call it, have a positive affirmation about being a good sleeper – whether it’s true or not.
Here are some examples:
“I am an excellent sleeper.”
“I get 8 hours of solid sleep each night.”
There is science behind the psychology of affirmations, and training ourself to believe something.
Sportspeople, successful business owners and other high achievers use positive affirmations. If it works for them it can work for us too.
And the best thing of all is it’s free!
Even if it helps 1%, it’s got to be better than doing nothing?
Write your sleep affirmation over and over in your journal. (I’ve filled an entire page with one affirmation before, writing it 30 times each day until I could believe it).
Say your sleep affirmation in your head throughout the day and as you wind down for the evening to help support the process of becoming a better sleeper.
I’ve always known the importance of sleep for physical and mental health, but it wasn’t until I met my super-duper friend, Doctor Sophie Bostock aka The Sleep Scientist, that I realised how important sleep is.
Here she gives her thoughts and advice:
“In reliable LT style, this is a great list of recommendations for sleeping more soundly.
I simply have 3 points to add:
1. This list is particularly powerful and effective because it’s personal. I know that LT will have experimented with different things until she’s found what works for her.
It really is worth a bit of trial and error to find what works for you. Research suggests we need at least 7 hours sleep to function at our best, but we’re all different. If you get out of bed at the same time each day, and get into bed when you’re tired and relaxed (without your phone!), you’ll start to settle into a rhythm that is right for you.
2. LT suggested that I add some compelling reasons that sleep is important, but I suspect you know these already. In summary, whatever is most important to you will be easier if you routinely protect time for sleep. Think about it. Whether it’s your relationships, career success, sporting achievements, good health – protecting your sleep will help you to be the best version of you, more of the time – emotionally, cognitively, and physically.
3. In spite of my points 1 and 2, my final point is not to worry about sleep. We all have occasional bad nights. Trust your system. If you’re sticking to a routine, your sleep the next night will be deeper to compensate. If you’re in the habit of lying in bed for hours, frustrated that you can’t sleep, please stop trying. It’s absolutely OK to get out of bed and read a book until you start to feel sleepy. Let sleep come to you.”
Thank you Dr Sophie for being a part of my blog.
If the tips above don’t pack enough punch for you, I’d recommend whizzing Sophie a message and using her expertise. You will be truly amazed at what she knows about sleep!
Sending healthy vibes and happy sleep.
Thanks for reading