Sleep is so important as it impacts on how we feel.
How many hours should we be getting?
The experts say between 7 to 8 hours (uninterrupted if possible) is what we should be aiming for as an adult to give our body a chance to rest and repair (children 10 hours and teens 9 to 10 hours).
Less than 6 and chances of getting ill triples.; sleep deprivation has been linked to hypertension, diabetes, obesity as well as cancer, a cause of motor and industrial accidents, reduced quality of life and productivity and weight gain. Have you ever noticed how after a night of poor sleep you need to eat to keep your levels of energy up?
Here are my top tips to get a good night’s sleep most of the time.
- The optimum time to get to sleep between 10.30 and 11pm so aim to get to sleepat this time. I like to go to bed around 9.15 to read and settle down.
- Try to get to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time even on holidays and weekends so that your body is used to a regular cycle, which helps you fall asleep with ease.
- Limit caffeine after midday, especially if you are very sensitive to it – its effects can last for 12 hours.
- Avoid a large meal in the evening and try to eat 2 to 3 hours before go to bed. There is nothing worse than going to bed with food sitting heavily on your stomach.
- Avoid alcohol – have a cup of chamomile or herbal tea before bed instead.
- Don’t do vigorous exercise before bed– some stretches or yoga poses may prove helpful. I recommend Childs Pose, side stretch, corpse pose and legs up against the wall. Exercise more vigorously earlier on in the day – 3 to 4 x a week. My best time to work out is before breakfast and before I head off to work.
- Screens (ipad/electronics/phones should be kept out of the bedroom and should be switched off an hour before bed as blue light can interfere with sleeping patterns. Use an alarm clock rather than your phone.
- Ensure your bedroom is dark (use a sleep mask if you need to) and at the right temperature – I like mine slightly cool 60 to 70 degrees.
- Have a wind down routine – mine is a warm shower or bath with some espom salts and lavender oil added in, some magnesium oil massaged into my inner arms, a good book (light fictio. I also carry out a mental skim day of what has happened and what I’m grateful for. It means I end the day on a positive.
- Diffuse some essential oils in the bedroom – lavender is my all time favourite for this – or sprinkle a few drops onto your pillow to relax/destress you. Make sure it is true lavender of therapeutic quality. I also like Roman Chamomile too or blend the 2 together.
If you are having trouble falling asleep or wake in the night and can’t get back try the following:
- Visualise yourself in a calm place where you feel completely content e.g . walking in a forest, imagine the sound of the birds, smell the flowers or the grass, feel the sun, feeling the warmth of the sun on your face – to relax.
- If you are worried about something and your mind won’t still, jot your worries down on a list beside the bed or in a journal so you release them.
- Tense/ curl your toes and then relax them and work your way up your body an area – feet and legs, hip and bottom, stomach and abs, back, shoulders and arms, neck and head.
- Practice this deep breathing – breathe in for 4 through the nose, hold for 8 – exhale out for 7 through the mouth. Do this up to 8 times.
- Count backwards from 1000.