• Lucy Francis

Tips To Promote A Blissful Sleep

Updated: Sep 19, 2020

I don’t know about you, but without enough good quality sleep, I pretty much cease to function. Sleep is heavily underestimated in the importance it carries for our overall health and should be taken more seriously due to the evolving research being more recently brought to light. For anyone looking to understand more about this fascinating area of science, I would highly recommend you read Dr Matthew Walkers book, ‘Why We Sleep’. Dr Walker has also been interviewed on various podcasts you may know of (such as Dr Rangan Chatterjee and Deliciously Ella) and has written various educational articles published in the media.


Dr Satchin Panda is another researcher, in particular focusing on our circadian rhythms (physical, mental, and behaviour changes that follow a cycle in response to light/darkness) and how we can implement some relatively simple strategies into our lives to promote good, habitual patterns to support our overall health – check him out if this topic is of interest to you!


It’s important to bring attention to how lack of sleep can negatively impact our hormonal health (including sex hormone and metabolic pathways) and cognitive health, consequently increasing the risk factor for certain disease in later life.


Just because your friend can power through a 5am start (squeezing in a hiit class before the day has even begun), a long commute, and seemingly thrive in their high stress work environment on a mere 5 hrs sleep, does not mean this is necessarily healthy or by any means, optimal for health in the long run. Yes, we cannot change the nature of our jobs and unavoidable everyday stressors at times, but we do have control over how we support ourselves outside of work to relax and rejuvenate, nourish our body through our nutrition choices and make adjustments to promote a healthy hormonal pattern.


Refer to the tips below: why not see which ones you can bring into your current lifestyle to support better sleep and relaxation today?


Routine:

  1. Make ‘getting your hours’ a priority. 7-9 hours is the general consensus for sleep amount needed, although this can change depending on various circumstances i.e age, our state of health…activity amounts – don’t be embarrassed if you feel significantly better for reaching that 9hr mark – get an early night and listen to your body.

  2. Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time each day… Set your bed/wake times and stick to them, even week and weekends should ideally match up.

  3. Like you would for a child, keep your evening routine regimented where possible for good habits to remain, thus promoting a steady circadian clock. Have a bath, read, meditate?

Light and darkness exposure:

  1. Get out in daylight early on in the day for 20-30 minutes to help regulate circadian rhythm patterns and essentially ‘wake the body up’. Walking/cycling to work is an easy way to incorporate this, or walking the dog in the morning.

  2. Stay away from screens in the hour window before bed, especially LED screens – these emit blue light which can interfere with the production of the hormone melatonin, fooling your brain into thinking that it’s still daytime. Consider a light blocking app or setting your phone to ‘night mode’ at least. If I am personally having to work in the evening at my laptop, I wear blue light blocking glasses, I’ve found them to be super effective.

Temperature:

  1. The body’s core temperature needs to drop to initiate good sleep – researchers suggest the optimal room temperature to be around 18 and a half degrees celsius. Keep your room cool.

Food + drink:

  1. Limit alcohol intake – whilst alcohol may make some of us feel drowsy, alcohol actually disrupts REM, keeping you in the lighter stages of sleep.

  2. Try and avoid caffeine after noon. Caffeine has a ¼ life of 12 hours, meaning that the coffee you consume at 12pm is likely to be circulating through your system still at midnight! This includes green tea/matcha, (commonly forgotten for their caffeine content!)

  3. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated but refrain from having a large amount right before sleeping as you’ll likely be up in the night needing a wee, therefore disrupting your sleep (common sense!)

  4. Consider including tart, montmorency cherries/juice, pistachio nuts, eggs and also fish to your diet. These foods are known for containing dietary melatonin concentrations. Interestingly milk can enhance melatonin levels, too; breast milk contains a high concentration of melatonin in the colostrum – this nourishes new born babies that lack the rhythmic excretion of melatonin in the first couple of weeks of their lives. Isn’t the human body amazing?

  5. If stress and dysregulated cortisol is the underpinning of troubled sleep, Vitamin B6, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), and vitamin C can often can become depleted – it’s important to really nourish the adrenal glands for optimal functioning here, so do chat with your nutritionist for personalised advice and suitable dietary/supplement support.

Unwind:

  1. Different people find a variety of things to help them relax, so find what works for you. Reading a good book, aromatic candles, warm baths with magnesium salts and music can all help. I love using a natural lavender pillow spritz, too.

  2. Refrain from strenuous, high intensity exercise for 2-3 hours before you sleep – elevated cortisol (stress hormone) is not something we want in the window before bed – cortisol has a diurnal relationship with melatonin and so we want cortisol to taper off in the evening, saying goodbye to ‘fight or flight mode’ and hello to ‘rest and digest’ mode.

  3. Do you practice mindfulness and meditation? These techniques have been shown to enhance brainwaves that facilitate better sleep and fight insomnia.

  4. Last but not least, comfort! Make sure you have your favourite soft duvet and the perfect cushiony pillow to plunge into for cosy, sleepy bliss!

Happy sleeping, all!

x

19 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All