Sleep is our natural way of recuperating after a hard day doing whatever it is we've done during the time we've been awake.
But are you getting enough sleep?
Enough sleep is when you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to leap into the day ahead.
Enough sleep is when you get through that day ahead feeling awake, alive and full of energy, enthusiasm and life.
Enough sleep is being able to concentrate when you need to, rationalise when you have to and be interested in what others have to say when the need you to!
Not enough sleep is when you struggle to do any of the above.
Lacking Good Quality Sleep
Too many of us suffer from a lack of good quality, unbroken and restful slumber.
The reasons for this are many and varied and a lot of the time it doesn't just come down to getting the regulation 8 hours sleep during the night. Different people need different amounts of sleep to feel on top of things during the day.
If your slumber is constantly disturbed by noise or other distractions around you, or you go to bed by lie awake for hours on end worrying about this or that, unable to still your thoughts enough to relax and drop of to sleep, then you will probably wake up in the morning feeling like you need another nights sleep already.
Well, there's not much you can do about external influences, like noisy neighbours or traffic noise, or loud bangs or crashes from cats or foxes knocking over dustbins or fighting with each other.
You could try wearing earplugs to dampen the sound enough so you wont be disturbed by all but the loudest noises. Or you could take drastic action and move to a quieter neighbourhood!
I suffered from that problem while I lived in London, so I eventually sold up and actually moved onto the side of a mountain in Spain! Peace and quiet at last!
Well, even that took some getting used to. That's because, for the first few nights I still woke up expecting to hear the bins crashing to the ground, or car alarms going off!
I soon got tired of the hermit's life, so now I'm back in a noisier part of town, but thankfully it's nowhere near as bad as my place in London was.
But if you suffer from not being able to get to sleep in the first place because your mind is still buzzing along ten to the dozen, there is plenty you can do without having to resort to the drastic measures I did!
It can seem like a life sentence has been imposed upon you while you lie there in bed waiting for enough hours to pass by so you can eventually drift off to sleep for what's left of the night. The idea that you can actually shut your annoying active mind off at night might seem inconceivable.
But it can be done!
Self Hypnosis for Relaxation
As a hypnotherapist back in London, I learned that certain self-hypnosis techniques actually do work to relax your mind enough so you can drop off to sleep.
They didn't always work to make me ignore the car alarm going off at 3am opposite my bedroom window, but then I was joined by the whole street-full of angry, sleep deprived neighbours on that one!
But not everyone is a practising hypnotist!
However, there are many relaxation techniques that you can use to help you to fall asleep at night. But even before going to bed, there are some things that you can do to relax you enough to make it easier to sleep once you are in bed.
Don't drink any caffeinated drinks like black or green tea, coffee or cola in the late evening.
The caffeine will stay in your body long enough to keep you awake. Switch to herbal teas like camomile or lemon balm that will naturally relax you.
A lot of people say to drink warm milk before going to bed, but if you have any intolerance to lactose this is a bad idea as it will give you indigestion and thus keep you awake.
A warm cocoa drink is another one to avoid as cocoa does contain low levels of caffeine. So this is also not such a great idea just before bed.
No Bedroom TV
A television in the bedroom is another really bad idea
That's because watching the box right before going to sleep will keep the images and worse, advertisements circulating in your mind long after the lights have been switched off. Plus the blue light from LED TVs act to suppress the brain's production of the sleep hormone, melatonin.
It is far better to read a book (a real one, not a digitised version on a tablet) for half and hour or so, which is much more relaxing.
Let Your Mind Go Blank
Once you do turn off the lights and settle down for the night, make a conscious effort to blank your mind. That means you need to keep out any thoughts or ideas.
If any thoughts creep in, tell yourself that you can think about these in the morning.
It takes a bit of practice but you will find that after a few nights of this you will be less likely to keep thoughts or worries floating around in your head when you're in bed. It won't be long before you're falling asleep quickly and doing so much to improve your health at the same time.
For a whole lot more ideas and information on getting a good night's sleep, there is an excellent book I've found that can help you in many ways, called 7 Day Mind Balancing Plan. Click that link to view the author's site for more information.