9 Tips to help you get a good night’s sleep
Sleeping! Do you find yourself pressing snooze on your alarm a million times in the mornings? Or perhaps you wake up just feeling like you never went to bed? Or maybe you wake up a few times in the night and regardless of how long it takes you to doze off again, you know you have hd interrupted sleep. You can read about now important it is to get sufficient amounts of decent quality sleep here [relevant blog link], so here are some simple things that you can do to help yourself with this…
1. Soak in some magnesium
Have yourself an Epsom salt bath. Epsom salts are nothing other than Magnesium Sulfate. Magneisum is a very important mineral that serves a whole range of key functions in the body, including muscle function and relaxation, energy production, blood sugar regulation, and brain health. Im particular, it helps us switch from the more “stressy” brain chemicals to the calmer ones. Many people are deficient in Magnesium because our soils (and therefore produce) are now depleted in it, and it is one of the nutrients that we burn through the most at times of pressure, stress and reduced sleep.
So, as Magnesium is absorbed well through the skin, hot baths are a lovely unwinding activity that we can treat ourselves to before bed (about 30 minutes before bed is ideal). It cam often help us get a good night’s sleep.
Run yourself a hot bath, add 1-2 cups epsom salts (from any high street pharmacy) and soak in there for at least 20 minutes. If you do not have a bath tub, or if you really don’t like baths, then you can gain similar benefits from soaking your feet in a basin full of hot water and ½ cup of salts. Enjoy!
2. Drink a cuppa
And I don’t mean Earl Grey… we are talking naturally caffeine free herbal teas of course. Some have partiularly soothing and calming properties, so if you enjoy a hot drink before bed, then make it one of these
* Chamomile – most people are aware of this one. As well as being soothing to the mind and nervous system, it can also be soothing to the tummy should you experience any post dinner bloat or discomfort
* Holy Basil – also known as Tulsi, this is one of my personal favourites! I find it has such a rich flavour and the herb is knows as an adaptogen which is supportive at times of stress and anxiety
* Lemon Balm – from the mint family, this deliscious herb brings the perfect combination of properties that both sooth and uplift, so you can go to bed with a positive calm
* Passionflower – an effective sedative and anti-anxiety herb, pasionflower has been known to knock me out for the night at times when nothing else could! I also happen to think it is realy tasty. Use the loose leaves and start by making a weak tea to make sure you don’t feel groggy the next morning. If in the morning you are fine, you can make it a bit stronger night by night until you figure out the perfect strength for your needs.
* A couple of notes on evening time teas though…
* Make sure if you are prone to getting up in the night needing the toilet that you have this cuppa a good 2-3 hours before bed so that you are less likely to be
woken by the need to tinkle. Even though the tea won’t be straight before bed, it can still help you unwind for the evening
* If you are on medication, then avoid strong cups of passionflower as this can interact with some medications
* If you are not on any medications, then the best way to get the therapuetic vaue from these teas is to keep the teabag in at least 15 minutes before drinking
3. Turn away from the light…
And by that I mean the blue light on your screens, laptops, tablets and phones. Research has shown that this kind of light can disrupt your production of melatonin (the sleepy hormone that we produce in the dark) and can deteriorate sleep quality significantly. So the best solution is to avoid it where possible, however if that is not possible, then consider buying some amber lense glasses that filter the blue light out, or you can get an app for your computer/tablet that does something similar. I often recommend justgetflux.com and suggest to my clients that they avoid blue light at least 2 hours before bed if they can’t manage more. Give it a go, you’ll be amazed how much of a difference it can make! Plus a bonus is that you may end up reading that book made out of paper that has been sitting on your shelf for ages…
You might also, on a similar note, want to try a bedroom light that simulates sunset by gradually dimming, and then simulates dawn by gradually turning itself on in the mornings. These can help us reconnect with our natural circadian rhythms which dictate our sleep/wake cycles.
4. No sweets before sleeps
In another post [relevant link] I covered the reationship betwee blood sugars and stress hormones and also hinted at the effect blood sugars can have on sleep. What can happen when you have a sugary snack before bed, or a bit too much alcohol, is that the levels of sugar in your blood spike just before bed, and then in response to that, at some point in the night your blood sugar levels crash, at which point one of the body’s responses is to release the stress hormone cortisol… and guess what that does? Yep, it wakes you up. Sometimes with a start. Or sometimes you might wake up at 3am literally as awake as can be, almost ready to start the day. That’s likely cortisol. This hormone is catually supposed to peak in the morning to wake us up naturally, but if it is doing so in the middle of the night, something is a miss. So, refer back to my post about balancing blood sugars [relevant link] for s reminder on how to eat right to sleep right.
6. Bring a bit of Provence to the bedroom
Ah lavender… I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t love the scent of this oh so pretty purple flower. Apart from smelling delicious and giving me the illusion of being on the Cot D’Azurre (which in itself is very healing, haha), it does have aromatherapy stress-relieving and sedative properties… so you may want to add just a few drops of lavender essential oil to your magnesium bath, or alternatively have a diffuser in your bedroom to spread the aroma, or you can even add a couple of drops to your pillow case or a tissue that you keep on your pillow.
7. Darker than dark
This is a very simple one. In order for our brains to produce melatonin, the sleepy hormone, it needs to be in darkness. As mentioned above, light can really disrupt this process, so you need to make sure your bedroom is fully blacked out, with a good set of
blackout blinds, or at the very least, wear an eye mask. Even if we don’t think light is an issue for us, it may be affecting the quality of our sleep.
8. Cut the Caff
One person’s medicine is another person’s poison, that is certainly true for coffee. Whether coffee is a friend or foe to you is determined by your genes. For those who metabolise caffeine efficiently, this stimulant poses no problem, even an hour before bed, and in fact can even confer some health benefits. But for those who are genetically slow metabolisers, a morning coffee can play havoc with blood sugars and stress hormones for the rest of the day and night. The surest way of finding out which category you belong to, is to test for the relevent gene. However there are other ways too. In many cases, a slow metaboliser will intuitevly know that caffeine does not agree with them. These are the people who feel jittery and feel their heart pumping overtime after a cup of tea or coffee. A clear and helpful sign to stay away from it. For others though it may be less obvious, as they may feel that they need coffee or some form of caffeine just to feel normal rather than sleepy. And in that case, even if there are no jitters, I strongly recommend trying a one week caffeine detox (especially if you are feeling tired a lot or are struggling with night time sleep) and observe any changes in the quality of your sleep, or how you feel first thing in the morning.
9. Keep calm and carry on sleeping
This really is for those of you who seem to wake up a lot in the night and struggle to get back to sleep. This can be a tricky scenario. I was always taught in my herbs module at college that it is easy to knock someone out with a herb, but it is much harder to keep them asleep. To help yourself, do follow all the tips above, they really can make a difference, but also be mindful about how you are spending that time that you are awake at various points in the middle of the night. As already established above, the last thing you want to do is pick up your phone and check social media. Stick to the no light rule. But consider doing some things that might actually help you get back to sleep or at least feel good ather than stress about the fact you are not sleeping, such as a short guided meditation, some deep breathing exercises, going through a mental gratitude list, etc.
Even just one or two of these could make a big difference to your sleep and your whole health! So give them a go, set yourself a challenge to add one of these to your routine each night.