Having adequate sleep is one of our basic human needs along with nutrition and hydration. It’s essential for both our emotional and physical wellbeing as it allows us to process our thoughts, consolidate our memories, as well as to rejuvenate, restore and repair essential muscles and tissues.
Sleep has also been linked to helping us maintain a healthy diet. Poor sleep has been shown to lower our appetite-suppressing hormone, leptin and to raise our hunger hormone, ghrelin… making weight loss a frustrating project for many!
If you struggle to get yourself off to the Land of Nod, here are some tips to help you get that vital sleep that your mind and body are craving.
10 tips for a great night’s sleep:
1 – Daily exercise. Exercise is a great way to ensure a good night’s sleep as it causes your body to release endorphins that relax you. Low-impact exercise, such as yoga or swimming is also an excellent way to wind down to a great night’s sleep. It’s also a great way to burn up excess energy and stress – not to mention a host of other health benefits!
2 – Don’t eat or drink for at least an hour before you want to go to sleep.
3 – Take a warm shower or bath to relax your body.
4 – Stick to a routine. Going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time each night and day will help to set your body clock. The only catch is that this may mean no lie – ins at the weekend! If you really need some extra sleep after an early start or a late night, opt for a short nap instead of sleeping in. That way you won’t upset your natural sleep-wake rhythm.
5 – Try some relaxation techniques. Work your way through each muscle group by tensing it for 5 seconds, then relaxing it, for example curl up and tense your toes and then relax them, flex your legs and squeeze them together, then relax them.
6 – Ensure your bedroom is cool, quiet and dark. Darkness tells the brain to make melatonin, which in turn tells your interior clock that it’s time to sleep.
7 – Minimise the use of your phone and any other electronic devices at least 1 hour prior to your bedtime… a challenge, I know! The blue light of the phone actually kills melatonin, because the brain thinks it’s still day time and therefore not sleep time.
8 – Rotate your alarm clock away from you and don’t keep checking your phone for the time.
9 – 30 minute trial. If you haven’t gone to sleep after about half an hour of getting into bed, get up and go to another quiet, dark place in the house, practice some deep breathing and try to unwind. Perhaps listen to some soft, slow and relaxing music until you feel tired, then go back to bed.
10 – Rub some lavender oil on your pillow – aromatherapy is well documented in aiding relaxation.
And…breathe. Breathe deeply using your abdomen as opposed to your chest (test yourself by placing one hand on your stomach and one on your chest and see which hand is rising or if both are and if so, try to breathe more deeply into your stomach). Breathe in slowly and hold your breath for 5 seconds before exhaling slowly through your mouth. Repeat this exercise until you start to feel sleepy. Focus on clearing your mind.
These 10 tips for a great night’s sleep will go a long way in helping you to feel and function better.
Do you have any other tips that you’ve found helpful?