Monday, 20 May 2013

4 Tips From Nature We Can Use To Sleep Better

Feeling a bit bored with your current sleeping style? Finding difficult getting to sleep or staying asleep? We've looked to the Animal Kingdom for inspiration and nature's most effective ways for catching some Z's.

Bushbaby looks up with wide eyes
"....Can't.....sleep.........."
1. Listen to your body
In the jungle and woodlands, away from the city lights and noisy traffic, the quietness of the surroundings mean that animals are more in touch with their 'internal weather' - how they feel, both physically and mentally. Obviously, this is slightly more essential for animals for survival purposes - not much use raving out to your iPod whilst their are hungry lions about, or losing yourself to a good episode of EastEnders whilst your 12 young cubs are scrabbling at your feet and crying to be fed (although that does sound familiar...)
The stimulation we get from advertising, lights, sounds, and other people in our lives can often send our brains lots of different messages - so many that our quieter feelings get squashed or misinterpreted in the furore.
Whilst we may want to encourage ourselves to stay awake to go out and have fun, or to get up early to go for a run, it's good to spend a few minutes being quiet, and getting in touch with how you really feel. You may find out underneath all the activity, your body is telling you to hit the pillow.



A snake and dwarf hamster sit amiably side by side
"It's nothing personal, but I'm really not hungry today..."
2. Take a day off
Although surviving in the wild can be cutthroat, even bugs know when a holiday is needed. After all, a caterpillar doesn't just magically transform into a butterfly - it takes time and complete relaxation (if you could call being coocooned up in a sticky pod relaxing...) to make that essential transition.
Taking a day off to catch up on sleep can be invaluable to your health, especially if you feel overworked or stressed out. Although it's not recommended to regularly miss out on sleep and catch up as a pattern, taking a day out to catch up on missed sleep can do the world of good for how you feel.  Feeling more awake and refreshed are obvious benefits, though your outlook, mood, and brain function will probably take a boost too.



A chipmunk stuffs its cheeks with corn
"I'll bring some extra for everyone else too..."
3. Take time preparing for sleep
If we spend a few hours getting ready for work or school, but only spend a few minutes getting ready for sleep, it can mean we can hit the sack when our minds are still in full swing, making it very hard to go to sleep. Take a lesson from hibernating animals who slow their heart rate, fill their stomachs, and prepare their bodies for sleep. Wind down in the evenings by keeping the lights dimmed, doing gentle activity such as reading, puzzles, or listening to (calming!) music. Try to have eaten a few hours before settling down - going to sleep on a full stomach can be counter-productive. This wind-down time can act as the middle ground between faced-paced activity of the day and sudden silence when we sleep, meaning we ease our bodies and minds into that sleeping space much more easily.



A dog falls asleep in a bed of flowers
"Sweet Dreams, they said....OK, I said...."
4. Vary your sleeping area
Ever gone to a hotel and had the best night sleep ever? Sometimes it's can be a change that can do us good.
Of course, in the wild animals will scurry about looking for the best branch, cubbyhole, or cave which takes their fancy, night on night. Choosing a sleep station spontaneously like this can give a more natural night sleep, as you are following what your body finds comfortable at that exact moment in time.
Sleeping in a different room or position can offer us a different quality of sleep, and you can have a lot of fun experimenting good places to sleep. In the summer months, sleeping under the stars in a tent can offer a completely different experience, with plenty of fresh air and natural sounds to ease you to sleep. Setting up bedding on the floor of your favourite room, curling up on the sofa, staying over a friends house - as long as you're comfortable, a change for the norm can be great for when our sleep routines feel stuck or unsatisfying.