If you're one of the 20 million Brits who don't get enough sleep, this blog post is for you (and to my friends and family in Aus). Environmental factors, our modern pace of living, what we eat and how we eat all affect our sleep quality and circadian rhythms. It genuinely worries me how many people experience difficulty sleeping, and wake up tired, yawning all day long, dragging themselves through the day. There has to be another way; life is a long time, gorgeous. We spend over a third of our lives asleep (perhaps a bit less if you’re constantly skimping on slumber). I invite you to prioritise you - the beautiful vessel you navigate this life in - and get some much-needed rest. Guilt-free, no excuses.
Here are my top sleep hygiene tips that I share with my clients, friends and family who need a little help hitting the hay.
No electronic devices at least 1-2 hours before bedtime: Research indicates that the best sleep occurs from 9pm to 4 am. Now I know most of you will think I’m ridiculous for suggesting you go to bed at 9pm, but I do suggest being horizontal by a more achievable 10pm to avoid the dreaded ‘second wind’ that occurs around this time. Put away Insta my friends and while you're at it, switch your phone to flight mode an hour or two before bed. Playing with our devices before bed overstimulates the brain as the blue light from our screens tricks us into thinking it’s still day time. Good bye melatonin! Not cool. Melatonin is the sleep hormone responsible for helping us fall asleep and stay asleep. Our good night's sleep depends on healthy melatonin production. So put your phone, laptop, TV and tablet away and wind down instead with some light reading, a bath, guided meditation or yin yoga.
Make dinner your smallest meal of the day: In the western world dinner is typically the largest meal of the day. We get up early, we eat breakfast on the run or not at all, we scoff down our lunches at our desks, we get home and raid the fridge, we eat a meal fit for two some time in the late evening. This is pretty much how my day unfolded when I was working a busy corporate job. Then I discovered how bloated and uncomfortable I felt going to bed on a full belly, not the most conducive situation for a restful sleep. I invite you to reverse this and try to make dinner the smallest meal. Eating a big meal at night means the body has to work harder to break down all the food, in turn this keeps us awake. Some meal ideas include a light veggie soup, a salad, a smoothie with avocado, banana and almond butter or some quinoa, hummus and salad, The old adage "eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper" is a helpful reminder.
Don't eat anything after 8pm: this one is tricky and there's many different views on when we should cease eating for the day. Some say it's two hours before bedtime, others say nothing after 6pm. The later I find pretty difficult since so many of us are still at work or commuting then! For this reason I encourage a more achievable target of 8pm, since I aim to be in bed around 10pm. Similar to the previous point, eating close to bedtime is disruptive to sleep because...
Make your bedroom a sanctuary: Do you ever notice you sleep better when you're in a hotel?! I do! I'm betting it's because most - or at least the ones I have been lucky to stay at - have air-conditioning so I can adjust the temperature to the optimal 19 degrees that is proven to aid sleep, and comfy neutral linens and pillows, and (hopefully) they feel pretty secure. We spend one third of our lives sleeping, so it makes sense to create a haven that will have you drifting off in no time. Consider these simple ideas: remove TV and electronic gadgets (which, also, are intimacy's worst nightmare), upgrade your linens to 100% cotton sateen thread (I prefer neutral tones as I find these most soothing), switch to ultra comfortable latex pillows (can't recommend our Dunlopillow latex pillows enough - THE BEST!!!), decorate with indoor plants (peace lily is my favourite since they're so low maintenance) to help filter the air, invest in an air purifier if you live in a polluted environment and finally, make lavender your new bestie...which brings me to my next point.
Make friends with lavender: there are SO many ways to use this wonder herb to bring a sense of relaxation to your evening. I love sprinkling a few drops of my DoTerra lavender essential oil on my pillow before bed - it smells heavenly and instantly instills a deep feeling of serenity. I also apply a few drops to the soles of my feet before I hop into bed as it quickly enters our bloodstream and provides therapeutic benefits. For my pre-bedtime ritual I indulge with luxurious aromatherapy products like Weleda's Lavender creamy body wash or Dr. Bronner's Organic Lavender Castile Liquid Soap (Megan Markle's favourite too). It's all about layering when it comes to aromatherapy, so after a nice steamy shower, I'll moisturise with a generous dollop of coconut oil and a few drops of lavender essential oil, or Avalon Organic's Lavender hand and body lotion which comes in a fuss-free pump dispenser for those extra sleepy nights. A drop or two of lavender oil added to your facial serum is another great way to reap the benefits of this soothing, healing oil as not only is it amazing for your skin (especially oily, breakout-prone skin), but it'll leave you feeling calm in no time! Remember to cup your palms to your nose and take in a few deep, slow breaths first for extra zen factor.
So there you have it my friends, my top tips for getting some quality shut-eye. I hope you find some useful ideas here. Have a play around, treat yourself to a new lavender product this week and let me know how you go!
Deep, uninterrupted, quality beauty sleep is essential to a vibrant and energetic life. Allow yourself the rest your body needs for optimal healing and longevity.
You deserve to flourish.
Note: the opinions and advice contained here are my own, from my own experience, the results from my clients, my studies as an integrative health coach, and my personal research. If you are ever in doubt about any health concerns, or about coming off your medications, please consult a doctor.
These product recommendations are not sponsored in any way whatsoever. I only ever recommend and advocate for brands and products I've tried and tested a dozen times over.