A good night’s rest is the corner stone to our health and wellness so why do we often overlook it?
We sacrifice an extra hour of shut eye to scroll through Instagram or watch just one more episode on Netflix. A late night here and there won’t have any lasting effects beyond feeling fatigued the next day. It’s when we skimp on sleep night after night that it becomes a problem.
How can we possibly take on a busy schedule or find the motivation to exercise if we are sleep deprived and tired? Studies show that chronic sleep deprivation can lead to an increased risk in high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease not to mention anxiety and depression. When we’re tired, we look for energy in the form of foods high in sugar to keep us going; this can lead to making poor food choices and unwanted weight gain.
I’ve had my fair share of sleeping troubles in the past but feel that I am sleeping better now than I ever have. I’ve put together a list of my top ten tips to leave you feeling refreshed and ready to attack the day.
1. Get Comfortable
It sounds obvious but it really is the first step. We spend around a third of our lives in bed so you need to make sure that your mattress and pillows are comfortable and supportive. We upgraded our mattress recently and it wasn’t until I spent a night on the new one that I realised just how uncomfortable our old one was. This is especially important if you suffer from neck or back pain. I make sure that I hoover my mattress regularly when I change the bedding to keep it clean and reduced dust mites which can aggravate allergies. If your mattress is in need of an update, check out the Leesa it came top of the sweethome mattress trial. The Leesa offers support at the body’s pressure points as well as a contouring “hug” that feels comfortable rather than hot.
2. Exercise Daily
Daily exercise has endless benefits. Just ten minutes of light activity can have a positive effect. Getting active promotes a night of good quality rest, just make sure that you don’t work out right before bed time or it could have the opposite effect.
3. Cut The caffeine
I try not to have caffeine past 12pm. When I reach the 3pm energy slump my go to ‘pick me up’ used to be a strong cup of coffee. I found that this often left me struggling to switch off at bed time. I’ve swapped my afternoon Starbucks for a handful of blueberries or a banana, I still get an energy boost but minus the wired caffeine buzz hours later.
4. Keep A Regular Bedtime And Wake-Up Schedule
It can be tempting to catch up on lost sleep at the weekends and sleep in until noon. Maintaining a routine is really important when it comes to sleep quality. I always try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on the weekends. This is made easier due to fact that I have an 8 month old baby!
5. Avoid Harsh Light
Most of us spend a good portion of our day staring at a screen, the blue back light that screens emit can take its toll on our eyes. I try to avoid using the bright spot lights in our house in the evening and if I need to use my laptop after dinner I dim the back light. Instead of using the main lights I opt for candles and fairy lights to give a softer more relaxing atmosphere and prepare my body for sleep.
6. Pre-Bedtime Yoga
When I was pregnant I started to take ten minutes before bed time to stretch and practice my yoga. Focusing on my breathing helps me to be mindful and switch off after a busy day. This is something that I have carried on as it makes a big difference to how well I sleep. Yoga feels great after a heavy training session too. Check out YouTube for some great guided bedtime yoga routines to get you started.
7. Take A Warm Bedtime Bath
Ok, so this isn’t exactly ground breaking but it works. I have a bath time ritual where I light my favourite candles, pop on my favourite play list and read a good book. Adding magnesium flakes to the running water is great for the skin and promotes a good night of sleep.
8. Inhale Lavender Oil
I’m a great advocate of essential oils. I take 2-3 drops of lavender essential oil and rub it between my palms. Inhale and then rub the oil onto my wrists and temples. It’s so soothing and relaxing. I sometimes add a couple of drops to my pillow.
9. Take A ZMA Supplement
ZMA is a combination of three supplements, zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6. It promotes a deeper cycle of REM sleep which leaves you feeling very well rested. This is a great supplement if you find that you wake regularly during the night for no apparent reason.
10. Sip Herbal Tea
There are loads of sleep teas on the market. They contain herbs and plant extracts that soothe and relax you for a restful night. My favourite is the Clipper Organic Sleep Easy blend. It tastes lovely and contains cinnamon, orange and camomile, it’s also naturally caffeine free.
What are your top tips for a good night’s sleep? Let me know in the comments below