Written by Dr Rangan Chatterjee
Need some help falling asleep? Here, Dr Rangan Chatterjee draws on his 20 years experience as a GP to offer three quick, five minute tips to help you drift off in the evenings and beat insomnia.
Sleep deprivation is reaching epidemic levels.
Most people who are struggling to sleep are doing something in their daily lifestyles that they do not realise is impacting their ability to sleep at night. Humans evolved in nature and by simply exposing yourself to it, with my ‘5 Minutes in Nature’ plan (below), can help to normalise your body’s daily natural rhythm, which is important for healthy sleep.
A regular workout, such as ‘The Power 5’ plan (below), helps ensure you’re moving enough in the day so that you feel tired enough to sleep at night. ‘Reframing the Day’ (below) before bed is a fabulous way of switching your attention away from the negatives, which often keep people up at night, and redirecting it towards the positives.
Read on for three simple plans that will help you achieve better sleep in just five minutes.
How to sleep: 5 Minutes in Nature plan
Spend five minutes each day enjoying nature, whether through sight, sound or smell.
The wonderful thing about nature is that it’s not only free, it’s also readily accessible to many of us. If you have a garden, I’d like you to go outside for five minutes, stare at the trees, listen to the birds, watch the branches move in the wind. Really focus on your surroundings and luxuriate in the experience.
This is fantastic to do in the morning, as exposing ourselves to natural daylight at this time can be extremely effective in getting our natural daily rhythms in sync. It can help wake us up and, hours later, help us to sleep better.
If you wish to enhance this even further, you could go outside on to the grass with bare feet. More and more science is suggesting positive health benefits from having this direct contact with nature, but from personal experience the best reason to do this is because it feels fantastic. It wakes up the senses and is a fabulous way to start the day. This is something I try to do most mornings, even in the winter.
You can even access nature while doing something else. For example, you could have your morning cup of tea with your window open and listen to the birds singing. Alternatively, you could drink it next to the window and meditate on the branches blowing in the wind. Or you could have your morning cuppa in the garden. When I made this suggestion in my first book, The 4 Pillar Plan, it proved wildly popular with my readers.
How to sleep: The Power 5 plan
Perform five quick exercises in just five minutes to work your entire body. This workout is a simple way to get all the benefits of HIIT training while working on different areas of the body at the same time:
- Jogging on the spot
- Jumping Jacks
- Mountain cimbers
- Sumo squats
These five movements should be completed one after the other. If you are a beginner, try 20 seconds on and 40 seconds off, repeated five times. If you are advanced, try 40 seconds on and 20 seconds off, repeated five times.
If you find you can’t do one or more of these exercises because it feels too hard, is causing pain or because you have an injury, you can easily substitute another exercise, even if it means repeating one of them.
Don’t look for reasons not to do the workout. I have designed this programme to be as simple and accessible as possible – there is always a way!
How to sleep: Reframe the day
This is an incredibly powerful exercise that research has shown to increase people’s happiness immediately, with the positive effects in some people still present six months later.
Write down three things that went well for you today. Here are some suggestions.
- Did someone make you a cup of tea at work?
- Did someone let you turn out of a junction on to a main road?
- Did someone offer you their seat on the bus?
- Did someone tell you that your rucksack was open and that things may fall out?
- Did your partner tidy the house before you came home?
After each act write a sentence saying why the positive event happened and what it tells you about the world. It could be that your colleague made you a hot drink because they care about you, or the driver let you turn out of the junction because there are good, caring people everywhere.
If this practice feels tricky at first, don’t worry. That’s perfectly normal. The more you do it, the better at it you’ll become. The simple process of pausing and reflecting on these positive events can be incredibly beneficial, changing how you see the world around you.
Feel Better in 5 by Dr Rangan Chatterjee is available to buy now
This piece was originally published on 6 January 2020
Images: Getty, Unsplash
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