Working 9-5pm, working out and keeping up being that social butterfly, virtually or not, we all nowadays live manic, stressful lives, and some of us don’t know how and when to stop. Now, more than ever, it’s so important to put those feet up, relax and get your good night’s sleep in to enhance daily functioning and healthy lifestyles. We must start looking at our sleep patterns and habits, and take some small steps to make a big difference.
Did you know that we spend roughly one-third of our lives asleep, which shows just how important it is to our mental and physical health. Sleep is crucial for keeping strong and boosting our immune systems. During the recommended 7-9 hours’ sleep, our body is given time for muscle repair and the growth of new cells; the regulation of hormones essential for our emotional well-being, including appetite and mood; and the opportunity for maintaining our brain health, encouraging positive cognitive function and focus. The long term consequences of poor and insufficient sleep include increased risk of developing obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and psychological problems, to name but a few.
So what can we do to perfect our sleep hygiene?! Have a read of a few tips below:
Give your room a makeover
Having the right, tranquil sleeping environment can work wonders. Your body and mind need to feel calm and rested. Paint your walls a light green colour (proven to be the most natural and neutral), hook up some good curtains to block out any early sunrise waking you up prematurely, and keep the space around you free and minimalistic. A de-cluttered, tidy room means a clear-head, ready to rest. Add in some plants, such as ivy or the snake plant, to not only create a more zen setting, but also introduce more oxygen into your bedroom to encourage more effective sleep and bring naturally air-purifying qualities.
Get the temperature right
Too hot or too cold - you’ll find it hard to settle and fall into a deep sleep. The ideal climate for a good night’s sleep is said to be between 18 and 24°C.
Bathe yourself in a lovely hot soak at the end of your busy day. Relaxed muscles and a soothed body will help you sleep easier and wind down before bed. Make sure to have this bath at least an hour before though in order for your body temperature to regulate.
Be strict with yourself. Screen time activates different parts of the brain, keeping it stimulated and awake. Give yourself a break; grab a book to read instead, and try using a good old-fashioned alarm clock for your morning wake up. Avoiding technology and artificial light in your bedroom is a key step towards a better night’s sleep.
A few drops or sprays of lavender oil on your fluffed up pillows can create a relaxed place for your tired head. The lovely scent will also evoke a spa-like ambience.
What you do in the day is important - exercise and caffeine
Make sure you’ve been active in the daytime and had exposure to sunlight. Getting out in the daylight and exercising can help you sleep better, tiring you out whilst clearing some headspace. You’ll feel less restless and more able to drift off and dream. What you eat and drink throughout the day ties into your sleep patterns too. Try eating foods which naturally contain melatonin, a hormone which makes your body feel sleepy - for example fish, eggs and almonds. Don’t overdo the caffeine - too much and your brain will be wide awake when it needs to sleep. It’s important to leave time for your food to digest pre-bed time, so don’t be eating too late and allow around 3 hours between your final meal and hitting the pillow.
Try even just one of these and see for yourself. Sleep is so important and we need to start taking it more seriously. Never underestimate the power of sleep - lack of it is the source to a lot of our daily struggles, with long-term effects, and plenty of quality sleep is the cure to so much more than we realise.