I hope you’ll find these top tips to get a good night’s sleep of help. You might find it easier to print this off and star all the tips you think would make the biggest difference to you. Then circle all those you think will be easier for you to do. If it already has a star, put the circle around the star.
The suggestions with the stars in the circles will be your first tiny habits to create. Choose just one to start with, and remember to congratulate yourself every time you achieve it.
Habits are made through positive emotions. Creating a positive feedback loop helps make a habit easier to build.
If you find it difficult to do any of the suggestions, though feel they would be positive for you to achieve, for instance cutting down on caffeine, alcohol, or screen time, perhaps think about working with a health coach to help you build a healthier morning or evening routine.
1. Get as much daylight during the morning as you can
- Ideally you should aim to get up to 30 minutes of sunlight on your face every day, even in the winter.
- Whilst at work, maybe you could think about taking a ‘daylight break’ just as people used to take cigarette breaks.
- Getting enough sunlight helps support our circadian rhythm, which is our internal body clock. It actually works on about 25-hour cycle, so we constantly have to re adjust it so it fits in to our 24 hour clock. And one way of resetting it is to get as much daylight in the morning as possible.
- Daylight creates serotonin which is a precursor to our sleep hormone, melatonin.
- Serotonin and melatonin are almost literally day and night in hormone terms. They perform opposite jobs and yet they must work in harmony to keep the body balanced. Within the pineal gland, serotonin is acetylated and then methylated to yield melatonin.
- Serotonin levels increase in sunshine and light, and synthesis and secretion of melatonin is dramatically affected by light exposure to the eyes.
- Light is quantified in Lux. Full sunlight is 30,000 Lux yet on a cloudy day we can still get 10,000 Lux from being outside compared to a brightly lit room which only provides 500 Lux.
Many people report that they sleep better for exercising and it is a great way of completing the stress cycle. However, it is better not to exercise 2-3 hours before going to bed though.
3. Reduce caffeine intake after midday
This is because it can affect both your ability to get to sleep and the quality of your sleep. Caffeine is a powerful drug and like all drugs it has a half-life.
A half-life is the time it takes the initial effect of a drug to reduce by 50%. Caffeine’s half-life is 6 hours, so if you have a coffee at say 4pm half of the caffeine will be still be in your blood stream and effecting you 6 hours later ie.10pm.
It’s worth remembering that caffeine is also in tea, energy drinks and chocolate.
4. Reduce or cut out alcohol
Although alcohol is a sedative it does not induce natural sleep. Research shows that even small amounts of alcohol will fragment your sleep, so you wake up exhausted, without being aware that you frequently woke up. It also suppresses the REM sleep which is important for our emotional health. Hence it increases our feelings of anxiety.
Magnesium and potassium rich foods help promote relaxation and circulation. They include dark leafy greens, bananas, nuts, seeds, citrus, tomatoes, and whole grains. Foods high in calcium help to boost melatonin levels. In addition to dairy, soy, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are strong calcium sources.
Ideally finish your evening meal 3 hours before bed.
If you want a pre-bedtime snack, there are several snacks that research suggests promotes sleep. The top two I have heard about are pistachios and kiwi fruit.
Pistachios have a winning sleep-inducing combination of protein, vitamin B6, and magnesium, plus they contain exponentially more melatonin than other foods.
Kiwi fruit: A four-week study which involved 24 adults eating 2 kiwis one hour before going to bed each night fell asleep 42% more quickly than when they didn’t eat anything before bedtime and increased their total sleep time by 13%!
What’s behind the possible benefits of kiwi and sleep? There are a couple of characteristics of the fruit that may make it a strong sleep-promoting food: its high antioxidant levels and its high serotonin levels.
Research has established a basic link between sleep and antioxidants in the body. Studies show that poor sleep is associated with decreased antioxidant levels, and also that recovery sleep appears to help restore antioxidant levels. Kiwi is also a fruit high in serotonin.
Supplementing with magnesium may lead to a deeper, more sound sleep. This is because magnesium plays a role in supporting deep, restorative sleep by maintaining healthy levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep and regulates the production of melatonin.
Synergy have a magnesium supplement called Body Prime.
Take care of your gut microbiome. Growing evidence suggests that the gut microbiome can influence sleep quality. One of the most commonly felt benefits from Synergy’s ‘Microbiome Purify Kit’ is improved sleep. For more information, click here.
6. Limit blue light exposure
The use of digital devices has increased significantly over the last few years with most of us spending the majority of our waking hours staring at a digital screen. In fact, studies suggest that 60% of people spend more than 6 hours a day in front of a digital device.
As our usage has increased, so has the digital screen technology with many of today’s electronic devices using LED back-light technology to help enhance screen brightness and clarity. It is these LEDs that emit the very strong blue light waves and because of their wide-spread use, we are gradually being exposed to more and more sources of blue light and for longer periods of time.
Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed because this blue light affects our circadian rhythm.
- Use artificial light to a minimum
- Candle lit baths are very relaxing.
- Have an electronic free hour before bed.
- Take the time to do something relaxing, especially if the news and social media is more anxiety provoking than useful!
7. Create your own relaxing, nourishing bedtime routine
Ahead of any bedtime routines, it is good to make a point to declutter your bedroom and make sure your mattress is in good condition.
- Write tomorrow’s ‘to do’ list. Ideally do this before you get ready for bed so you can empty your head and sleep better.
- Drink a soothing, relaxing herbal tea. Try camomile, lavender or one of the many other ‘sleep time’ blends that are now available. Or maybe try this banana skin tea recipe also said to be good for sleep. Place an organic banana skin in a pot and cover it with water. Bring to a boil and let the banana peel soften for 10 minutes. Strain banana peel water into a mug or teacup and serve with a drizzle of maple syrup (optional, I didn’t) and milk of choice. Yes I have tried it and it was OK. (I can’t say if it improved my sleep as by doing so many of the other tips I sleep well anyway).
- Have a hot bath/shower before bed … and then allow the body to cool. This is a further cue to our systems that it is night-time because our bodies naturally cool at night.
- Try essential oils. Lavender and / or roman chamomile essential oils have calming qualities that can aid sleep and are safe to use. You could put a couple of drops into the bath, or use in a spray around the bedroom, (diffuse 3 drops of essential oil into 1 tsp pure grain alcohol such as vodka, combine with distilled water in a 2 oz. spray bottle, shake well and spray) before sleep. Alternatively, you could put a couple of drops in your hands, inhale the smell and rub onto the soles of your feet or try sleeping on a lavender pillow.
- Keep your room cool. For adults, somewhere between 60- 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15-21 degrees Celsius) is recommended for optimal sleep.
- Sleep in complete darkness. If necessary, get some black-out blinds.
- Use ‘red light’ night lights for children or in hallways. This is because red light is the least likely to suppress melatonin production and interfere with sleep.
- Block out any distracting noises. Wear ear plugs if necessary. Or, if you like having some noise try playing some delta wave sleep music, or have some background white noise on.
- Keep phones out of the bedroom. Reducing any temptation of having a quick ‘scroll’ before going to sleep, or in the middle of the night should you wake up. If you use your phone as an alarm, why not buy a simple alarm clock?
- Turn the wi-fi off! Some studies show that wi-fi affects our sleep patterns.
- Keep a notepad beside your bed. If you do wake up thinking of things you need to remember you can quickly write them down on the notepad, emptying your head of them until morning.
- Worries. If you have any worries, tell yourself you will deal with them in the morning. Imagine putting them in a locked box, or write it on a piece of paper ready to be thought about in the morning, and instead think of 3 things that you are grateful for that day including having a warm bed to lie on. Research shows that by thinking of the positive experiences of the day or reminding yourself of what you have to be thankful for, you are much less likely to ponder over your worries and therefore clear your mind for a good night’s sleep. If you do have on going worries or anxieties and find yourself constantly ruminating on things it may be worth talking with a counsellor. (Even just one or two sessions can sometimes make all the difference).
- Listen to a meditation. There are loads to choose from of on YouTube and Soundcloud. My current favourite one for going to sleep is under 12 minutes long. You can listen here.
- Try not to stress about not getting to sleep. If you find you can’t get to sleep or you wake up and can’t get back to sleep know that your body is relaxing and that you will get to sleep ‘soon enough’. Feel the comfort of the bed supporting and holding the weight of your body. Slow your breathing down and slowly tense then release each part of your body starting with your feet, or try thinking of every item in your room that begins with an A, then a B, etc. or keeping in time with your out breathe count down from a 1000 in 3’s and every time you get it wrong you have to start at the beginning. If you’re still awake after 30 minutes, get out of bed. Then do a really boring chore which you don’t like but that you can stop as soon as you feel sleepy, so it is more of a curse than a pleasure to be out of bed, until you are tired again. You want your body and mind to associate the bed solely with sleeping. (However having sex is fine as sex discharges energy and so doesn’t stop you from sleeping).
8. Routine is Key!
As far as possible try to keep to a specific and consistent ’sleep’ and ‘wake’ routine 7 days a week.
If you would like any help or advice with any of the above, please feel free to find out more about the modalities I offer.
from Wellbeing Magazine https://ift.tt/3gencWR