This post has my top 8 tips for you to sleep like a baby!
A good night sleep is so essential to our health and wellbeing, It will make us function at our best, feeling rested and clear. I am someone who from time to time, has had sleep problems. Mostly, I sleep really well, but I go through bouts of sleeplessness. I have little tricks and routines that help me achieve a well rested nights sleep. Below I have listed some of these strategies.
There are important reasons for us to have a restful sleep as many restorative functions occur whilst we are in our slumber. Our body goes into rest and repair mode, creating muscle growth, protein synthesis, neurotransmitter restoration, as well as tissue and cell repair. In children it is key for hormone production and brain development. I thinks that’s pretty important!
If you are someone who struggles to have a good quality nights sleep, then this can affect your overall health. Sleep issues and insomnia can leave you feeling irritable, low energy, brain fog and unmotivated. These feelings can lead us to under perform at our work, over eat by looking for energy, especially in the form of carbs and sugar, make bad decision and cause unnecessary conflict in our relationships.
According to the latest research, the 3 most common causes of insomnia are stress, anxiety and depression. I guess there are no surprises there?
So , My top tips!
Here is a list of some things I do and recommend to my clients for a good restful night sleep. Some are common sense, some, a little quirky, but mostly it’s important to find what works for you!
- Technology– Yes, we all sit down in the evenings and either catchup on work on the computer, or dare I say Facebook & social media ! I tend to do this a lot in the evenings after all is settled and calm in the household. It is important for a good night sleep to go technology free at least 1 hour before bed. But you can on your iPhone/iPad adjust your screen light emission by going to; Settings>General>Accessibility>Invert Colour. For your Laptops or computer screens, there is a free software application, called f.lux, that dims the blue light on your screen as the day goes by. This mimics the natural cycle of daylight. Therefore tricking your brain and hormones into doing naturally what it should do. But I still highly recommend you turn off a least 1 hour before bed. I failed to do this 2 nights ago and boy did I pay for it!
- A lovely cup of chamomile or valerian tea. Every night before I sit down for the evening, I make myself a cup of either one of these teas. Their herbal qualities have a calming and sedative effect on your body, signaling your body it’s time for rest. There is also something comforting about a hot cup of tea as well as creating a habit that signals your body to rest, also. There are many sleep blends you can get from a good health food store, even the supermarket, especially in the health aisle. I am drinking a lovely one I picked up from Coles at the moment called Dr Stuarts Extraordinary Tea- Valerian Plus. Just make sure whatever you drink at night, it is caffeine free and definitely no COFFEE!
- Restorative Yoga– When I go through bouts of sleeplessness I find a good restorative yoga routine really helps and deep breathing. I use a wonderful yoga app called Daily yoga. This has a simple 15 and 20 minute sequence for a better night sleep. I do this before I go to bed, to really help my brain wind down and allows my body to go into its restorative state.
- Feet up the Wall- Viparita Karani. This is also a wonderful restorative yoga pose that I highly recommend to anyone, except if you suffer with hypertension, glaucoma or a hernia. This pose has many benefits, but for the sake of this post, it forces your body and mind to relax and calm down. So how do we do it? Firstly, sit down on the floor, where there is a clear space on a wall. Press your hips against the wall, then recline your back to the floor, swinging your legs up the wall. Place your arms by your side or rest them across your stomach. Hold this position for anytime between 5-15minutes. The longer you hold this pose, the more relaxed you become. I recommend this to clients especially when you wake in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. To read more about this wonderful restorative pose click on the link. http://yogajournal.com
- 4-7-8 Breathe. This wonderful breathing technique not only is great for getting to sleep, but also in any time of stress and anxiety. What you do is sit or lie still, close your eye and take 3 deep breaths. You then, through your nose, breathe in for 4 counts, hold your breath for 7 counts, then breathe out your mouth for 8 counts. Repeat this breathe for 4 rounds. This wonderful technique forces your body to go into a parasympathetic state, lowering your cortisol levels and helping your body go into its rest and repair mode.
- Epsom/ magnesium salt bath– I love my baths and we have recently renovated our house. The one thing I was very clear on in our new bathroom, was to have a nice big bath! But I digress…..Why Epsom salts? It is a natural source of magnesium, which is a mineral that is used for many things but it has calming properties. What it does, is it’s a “natural muscle relaxant. It does this by moving calcium out of the muscles and into the blood stream where it can be mobilized elsewhere”. We can get magnesium from our food, but our digestive system isn’t as efficient at breaking it down so by using Epsom salts in our bath, it is absorbed through our skin and then becomes more bioavailable. I add 1/2-1 cup of Epsom salt to my bath, also adding a few drops of lavender oil, too, which is also a natural relaxer. You can also add it to your kids bath, if you find they are hyped up or have trouble getting to sleep. I use an essential oil blend called, ‘sleep easy’ by Inessence.
- Diet- ok, I know its obvious but no caffeine, sugar or other stimulants, in the evening. For me, I cannot have even a cup of black tea, after early afternoon, but that’s because I am extremely sensitive to caffeine. Alcohol is another big no, no (BOO, I hear you say?) not if you want a good nights sleep. It may trick your body to relax and go to sleep, but you often wake in the night, sleep lightly or wake feeling sluggish because your poor liver has had to work hard all night trying to process the alcohol, so best avoid it if you want a good nights rest. Having a handful of almonds or walnuts are a great snack to eat of an evening as they are chocked full of melatonin ( yep that awesome sleep hormone!) or have a tablespoon of almond butter, a warm cup of almond milk or even a handful of pumpkin seeds ( filled with magnesium). Make sure you eat well throughout the day so you don’t wake up hungry in the night but not too overeat in the evening, also.
- Journaling/diary/purging– If you feel you have too many thoughts running around in your head, going through that never ending ‘to do’ list, then before you go to bed, write down all your thoughts. Purge them into whatever you like, a scrap piece of paper, which you can through into the bin or burn! A nice notebook or whatever you like. It is simply trying to get all those thoughts and lists out of your head and busy mind and allow your body and brain do what it needs to do at night and that’s SLEEP! I find if I wake in the night, this helps, but only with a very low light. What ever is going in that head of yours, no matter how random or strange it might feel, just write it all down and get it out!
There are many more little tips and tricks one can do to help them get a good night of ZZZ’s, try googling it and you will find pages and pages of tips and wonderful helpful information, but these are my top tips and I do hope that they help you achieve a wonderful slumber filled with dreams and relaxation so you can tackle this wonderful life, with the energy and clarity that you need and crave, that only a well rested body and mind can give.