Sleep is a truly wonderful thing. Worries and anxieties often fade away with after a good night's rest.
The best part about it is that it costs nothing. Sleep is completely and utterly free.
What else in life can bring so many benefits but costs us absolutely nothing. Ok, love maybe but just think of all the expensive Valentine's gifts involved there – and the stress.
Despite us all knowing how good sleep is for us fewer and fewer of us are getting the doctor-recommended eight hours a night, and more and more of us are suffering from sleep disorders.
One of the main causes and consequences of all this sleep-deprivation are increased stress levels. It's a cruel cycle, we're stressed so we can't sleep, we can't sleep so we're stressed.
And with increased stress comes a whole host of other physical and mental problems.
So what can be done. Well below I will give you 3 of my top tips on how to get more sleep and reduce your stress levels.
Go On a Light Diet
I am positive that you've read a thousand articles already on how bad screens in the evening are for your sleep.
So I'm not going to get into that here other than saying this one thing – avoiding screens in the hour before bed will be the best decision you ever make in your hunt for sleep.
There i've said it once, it's completely up-to you whether you can put down your smartphone long enough to take that advice on board or not.
What I would like to add, that you won't see in many other articles, is that managing the other light you consume in the hours before bed is almost as important.
Bright overhead lights in your house can also play havoc with the levels of melatonin in your system. As does light-pollution leaking into your home from outside.
Both will prevent your brain from winding down in the evening.
What to do?
Well, installing dimmer switches is one very effective step to take. Turning off overhead lights and turning on more subtle and frankly more romantic side lamps is another move.
Swapping ineffective curtains and blinds for fit-for-purpose well-fitted blackout ones will also have a massive impact on how well you sleep.
Going to bed in an absolutely pitch black room does wonders. Believe me on this one.
I don't mean get sweaty and get into bed, that would be a little bit disgusting unless you are willing to wash your sheets every morning.
I mean get sweaty during the day. Do more exercise.
Few things can help us get more better sleep than actually being truly and utterly bone-tired when we climb into bed.
And unfortunately in today's modern world the most action our fast-twitch fibers seem to get is responding to a tweet before our friends.
Do something every day that tires you out physically, I don't really care what it is. It doesn't have to be as boring as going to the gym.
Go for a run up a hill, chase squirrels in the park, let squirrels chase you, play squash, squash something, have sex, have more sex, dance, skip or frolic – the possibilities are quite literally endless. Get imaginative. Have fun!
Whatever it is do it for 30 minutes a day. Not only will the endorphins released help to distress you but you will sleep all night like a lazy little baby.
Make a Date to Meditate
Meditation is no longer the sole reserve of the sandal and sock wearing hippies down at the community center, meditation you may or may not have heard is now cool.
Everyone is doing it. Oprah is doing it!
Nothing can be better for taming your 'monkey mind' and helping you get more sleep than setting aside just a small amount of time in your day to sit quietly and meditate.
A lot of mystique exists out there about meditation but don't worry you don't have to climb a mountain in Tibet and find a crusty old monk to get started, all you need is a little guidance.
Numerous apps exist that will do just that – guided meditations.
They start short and sweet, ten minutes here, fifteen minutes there and build up. Just find a quiet corner, stick in your headphones and let the calm wash over you.
Give it time, like learning any new skill learning to mediate will take a bit of work. And to be quite truthful the first few weeks will be the hardest. You will likely get frustrated, chances are you will won't to give up. Don't. Stick with it because it is worth the effort.
Meditation over time essentially begins to reprogramme our brain. I know that sounds overly dramatic but it is true, the brain scans exist to prove it. Regular sessions help to free us from negative patterns of thoughts and anxieties.
There you go – three tried, tested and cheap ways to help you get more sleep and reduce your stress levels.
Give them a go, what's the worst that can happen? You miss some sleep.