How did you sleep last night? This is a fundamental question I ask all clients in my clinic and often the answer is “not great”. People struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep or sometimes both. But either way, it’s putting their health at risk.
Sleep is one of the most important factors for good health. When we sleep our body repairs itself. A good night’s sleep means we make healthier food choices, are more likely to exercise, feel more alert and productive, and have balanced energy levels and mood. Basically, everything tends to become easier if we sleep well.
Now there are some sleep issues no one can help – hello mothers with new babies and those of you with snoring partners! But for general everyday sleep improvements, try these tips.
Tips to help improve sleep
- Set yourself a bedtime. As children, we’re given a prescribed time to go to bed, but as adults when we no longer have to adhere to other people’s rules we tend to go to bed when we’re sleepy. Problem is, with the lure of Netflix, Instagram and the never-ending to-do list, many of us fail to notice when we’re tired and often it can get to well past midnight before we even start to think about bed. Having a set bedtime will not only help ensure you get sufficient sleep (studies suggest 7-9 hours is optimal) but it will also get your body in the habit of going to bed at the same time each day and so you’ll naturally start to feel more tired at that time.
- Create a restful environment. Make sure you sleep in a dark and cool room. Ideally, avoid having too many distractions in the room too. Personally, I keep items in the bedroom to a minimum, no TV, no clutter and lots of side lights to create a dimly lit, relaxing environment. Make sure your curtains keep the light out and there are no devices (like bedside clocks) creating artificial light. Also, ensure the temperature is right for you – although this can be a source of conflict if you share your room!
- Switch off all devices. Phones, laptops, TVs, tablets all emit a blue light which confuses your natural sleep/wake hormones. It makes your body think it’s light and time to wake up! Try switching everything off at least 1 hour before you go to bed. If you do need to use your devices try the app FLUX or use the night-time settings on devices which turns the blue light into a warm orange light which doesn’t wake your body up.
- But what do you do in that hour when you have no digital devices to entertain you? I suggest a magnesium bath. Magnesium is what I like to call “Nature’s Tranquiliser”. It helps soothe aching muscles and relaxes the body aiding restful sleep. Add 1 cup of magnesium flakes (I use Better You or West Lab) to a warm bath and relax with a good book or a meditation for at least 20-minutes. After the bath go straight to bed to get the maximum effect of the relaxing magnesium, so make sure you’ve brushed your teeth before you get into the bath as even this can wake you up again! And definitely, don’t be tempted to check your phone! Aim to have a magnesium bath 2-3 times a week, but if that’s not possible, try a foot bath using a simple washing up bowl and half a cup of salts in warm water.
- Add a little lavender. This scent is known to be relaxing and can help soothe you into a restful night’s sleep. It can be found in pillow sprays and pulse point rollers or you can add some drops to your magnesium bath for a double whammy. Personally, I add lavender to my evening face oil which I talk about in my evening skincare routine blog.
- Keep a notebook by your bed. Worries or things we need to do can keep us awake at night. I find writing them down and getting them out of my mind helps me to clear my head and fall asleep. I always keep a notebook in my bedside drawer to jot down anything which troubles me once I’ve gone up to bed. In general, I find the things I was worried about the night before don’t actually seem as bad in the morning!
On that note, it’s time for me to switch off and run my magnesium bath. Good night all.