The prospect of having to give a presentation can put the fear of God into most of us and getting good quality sleep the night before can be a challenge if you’re not prepared.
Make sure you have gone through and practised your presentation during the day and have got an outline of your notes as back up just in case you forget something. Don’t rehearse late into the evening as you will be tired, and to be honest with you, you won’t retain any more information. When you sleep, deep sleep is where the magic happens and the brain consolidates experiences and learning, so make sure you follow the tips below to ensure that you’re not fretting with worry all night.
Make sure you relax before bedtime, and turn off your tech – phones, tablets and computers at least an hour before turning in for two reasons:
One is the blue light that your screens emit, which is the equivalent of staring at daylight. You may ask what’s the problem with this? We naturally secrete the hormone melatonin into our bloodstream when it starts to get dark; which acts like a sedative to make us feel drowsy so that we drift off to sleep. If we continually stare at our screens we are overriding our drive for sleep, which is bad news for getting to sleep and not very healthy for us.
The second reason is stimulation. If you’re working, looking at emails, scrolling through social media, watching the latest box-set on Netflix or Amazon Prime, this will either make you feel stressed or excited. You need to be feeling relaxed before you go to bed and not worrying about work or the latest developments in the plot of Game of Thrones or whatever you’re watching. If you’re watching TV watch something non-stimulating, however comedies are okay – laughter is good for you, and will help minimise the stress.
Avoid the sleep thieves such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and will keep you wired and tired. Have your last caffeinated drink at least 6 hours before bedtime. Alcohol may numb your senses and help you drift off, but it will disrupt the quality of your sleep, especially your dream or REM sleep where memories are moved from short term to long term storage – you don’t want to mess that up. Also, caffeine and alcohol are both diuretics – you can blame them for your nocturnal trips to the loo.
Here are some other tips to ease you into your slumbers:
- Have a warm but not a hot bath with candles to help relax you, failing that a warm shower about an hour before bedtime so that your body is cool before getting into bed.
- Have a good stretch or even do some gentle yoga before you get into bed to allow your body to get rid of any tension and relax the muscles.
- Put a few drops of lavender oil on your pillow. The scent of lavender helps lower blood pressure, which will relax you and make you sleepy
- Listen to a guided meditation such as Headspace or Daily Calm – both apps that you can get for your phone, make sure your screen is dimmed right down, even though you will be looking at it for a split second.
- Visualise yourself doing a faultless presentation where everything is going well, the audience are hanging on every word and you get a massive round of applause at the end. This is also known as mental rehearsal, and it’s the type of thing that athletes do before a competition to put themselves in the zone.
Rachel McGuinness is The Go To Sleep Expert, Wake Up With Zest. Rachel helps busy people with short or long term sleep problems fall in love with bedtime again instead of it being a battleground.