When it comes to our overall health, we often fixate on diet and exercise while neglecting other factors such as stress, mindset and of course, sleep quality. So many of us don’t get a solid eight hours each night so I’m here to share some expert tips with you on how to sleep better.
Personally, I’ve always made sleep a priority. I regularly make a commitment to myself to get to bed on time so I can wake up feeling refreshed rather than face a day seeking out doses of caffeine.
Quality, and natural, sleep is also important for those of us who like to be active and train regularly. Rest, recovery and sleep are as important as going hard when working out.
I originally wrote this post in collaboration with Hilarys when they teamed up with Dr Lauren Kita putting together sleep tips to help you get a better nights sleep. As part of that collaboration, I was sent a box of goodies to help me sleep better.
Here are the contents of the sleep kit:
I was most excited about the Lumie Bodyclock – it had been on my Amazon Wishlist for a while and after using it for a couple of years now I can say it probably changed my life, especially during the year I had weekly 5am alarms in the pitch black to teach at Frame.
Using The Lumie Bodyclock For Better Sleep
There’s nothing worse than the sound of a harsh ringing alarm when you wake up in the morning, sometimes the time you set your alarm may be the worst time to wake up based on the way you have slept that night.
The Lumie Bodyclock uses a light to gently wake you up from your sleep in the morning. I have always opted to also use the additional alarm sound as a back up, but I always woke up before it sounded!
Wake-up lights such as Lumie are perfect for those who find it difficult to wake up in the morning by signalling our circadian rhythm. You can create your own personal sunrise, a gradually brightening light that gently rouses you from sleep so that you feel naturally wide awake when your alarm goes off.
I found that I always woke up feeling well rested and very rarely had to use the snooze button. It also replaced me using my mobile phone as an alarm clock meaning I don’t spend my last few minutes before bed and first moments each morning staring at the bright screen.
Get Your Lumie Clock On Amazon:
Other Better Sleep Tips
I then changed my bed clothes (fresh sheets, dreamy!) and doused them in lavender oil. Lavender is such a calming fragrance, making my room smell like a spa and helping me to wind down when I jump into my bed.
Last but not least, I put the notebook to good use. I kept it on my bedside table with a pen so I can jot down anything that was on my mind before I went to sleep. It usually consisted of things to remember to do the following day.
I also love to read as opposed to watching tv – the bright light of the screen actually stimulates your brain, going against your efforts to get to sleep once you switch off! Reading a chapter of my book, in a low light helps me to relax and start to wind down my mind.
A Sound Night’s Rest Should Be A Public Health Priority
The Sleep Council recently called for the government to make a sound night’s rest a public health priority. September, or Sleeptember, was The Sleep Council’s annual awareness raising month. During the month the convicted a survey which shows that more than two-thirds of people (67%)* think more education and public health initiatives from the government are needed to promote good sleep health.
As part of the awareness campaign, ‘The 10 Commandments of Good Sleep’, were drawn up by one of Britain’s top sleep gurus, Professor Jason Ellis of Northumbria University.
These are Professor Ellis’ definitive tips for getting a good night’s sleep, naturally:
The 10 Commandments of Good Sleep
1/ Keep a regular sleep routine
Keeping a regular sleep wake schedule helps the body’s sleep system stay in harmony and promotes feelings of sleepiness and drowsiness when your body is ready for sleep.
2/ Get out into natural light
Natural light (even on cloudy days), helps reset our internal body clock. It helps us get over feeling groggy when we have just woken up and makes us more alert. Get out into the natural light as soon as you can after waking up, and preferably around the same time every day.
3/ Exercise regularly
Exercise promotes the quantity and quality of your sleep, making it deeper and more refreshing. However, a few studies have shown that exercising too close to bedtime can prevent sleep so we suggest leaving a window of at least two hours before bedtime without exercise. One of Dr Lauren Kita’s tips is also to do things that energise you during the day:
“Yoga is another great way to integrate exercise and mindfulness. The more you can be mindful during the day, the easier it will be to switch off at night. Over time, you can literally rewire your brain so that this process becomes second nature – allowing you to drift off effortlessly!” – Dr Lauren Kita
4 / Avoid stimulants eight hours before bedtime
Although there are significant individual differences in how caffeine affects each of us, give yourself enough time between your last caffeine intake and your sleep time to make sure that it does not interfere with your ability to get off to sleep.
5/ Don’t go to bed full, hungry or thirsty
Eating at regular times helps strengthen our internal body clock. However, eating a heavy meal before bedtime can make it challenging to sleep at night.
Drinking lots of liquid before bed will also increase the chances that we have to go to the bathroom during the night. Conversely, being hungry or thirsty at night can increase the chances of waking up. A balance should be struck between being sated but not full up before we go to bed.
6/ Be screen savvy
Using electronic screens just before bed and in the bedroom can keep us awake for longer as the blue light from these devices has the capacity to prevent the hormones that make us sleepy from being produced. Importantly, it is not just the light that can affect our sleep, but most activities that we use our devices for can keep us awake and alert.
7/ Don’t use alcohol to sleep
Although alcohol is a sedative, it can have a significant impact on the quality and quantity of your sleep. Our sleep tends to become fragile and light when we have a lot of alcohol in the evening and can lead to lots of awakenings in the latter part of the night and feelings of being unrefreshed during the day.
8/ Avoid nicotine before bed
Nicotine is a short-acting stimulant that can keep you awake and so should be avoided in the later part of the evening and during the night if you happen to wake up.
9/ Keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet
Heat, light and noise can impact on our ability to get off to sleep and increase the chances that we wake in the night. Making sure the bedroom is cool, dark and quiet can improve the quality of our sleep as can sleeping on a comfortable, supportive bed.
10 / Hide the clock
It is common to watch the clock when we are awake at night. For some of us, this can increase our anxiety levels and further prevent us from being able to fall asleep. It is not necessary to remove the clock altogether as many people rely upon their alarm clocks to get them up in the morning. However, having the clock face out of sight will help reduce any sleep anxiety.
All in all, my commitment to sleep always pays off. It means I can make it through the day without desperately needing a caffeine hit and I have the energy I need to train. Such small changes make such a big impact; makes me wonder what other little tweaks we could all make on a day to day basis!
Do you have any bedtime routine tips of your own?