Today I want to talk about something that is renowned for its healing power, its health benefits and the big role it plays in our well-being. And that’s sleep!
Doctors list increased attention and concentration, improved mental well-being, stronger immune system, healthier heart and reduced stress levels among the benefits of a good night’s sleep.
So far I have been lucky as I rarely struggle to fall asleep. Having inherited my dad’s genes, I can (much to my mother’s frustration) fall asleep anywhere and anytime from the comfort of my own bed to buses, trains and tents. I have in fact fallen asleep on a sofa at a night club and yes I was sober!
Lately though, I have been concerned about the quality of my sleep. Many days I wake up in the morning feeling already exhausted and desperate to hit the snooze button. Most of these mornings are after nights interrupted by upsetting dreams. I know what you are going to say,stress. And you are probably right. But as right now I still can’t put my finger on its source, I tried a few things to help me improve the quality of my sleep.
I am happy to report that although I’m not sure whether all of them or just one of these things did the trick, my nights have been more peaceful and the past days I have been waking up rested and more energetic.
No coffee after 12pm!
I really struggled with this one as for years now I always have 2 coffees a day; One first thing in the morning and one after lunch at around 2 or 3pm. It has been a little lift-me-up to get me through the second half of the working day. I have never felt that coffee disturbed my ability to fall asleep, and when out for a meal I have even had an espresso after dinner without any problems.
I read though that caffeine lives in our body for about 12 hours and although it might not affect our ability to fall asleep, it can negatively affect our sleep patterns disturbing deeper sleep.
I don’t manage to stick to it every day but most days of the week I stick just to my morning cuppa.
Avoid alcohol on school nights!
I am not a big drinker but I love a nice glass of vino. Ending the day with a warming glass of red during winter or a refreshing glass of rose during summer was one of my little pleasures a couple times a week. I noticed though that although having wine before bed relaxed me and made me sleepy, I was often getting more vivid and upsetting dreams.
I looked it up (on Dr Google!) and according to research,alcohol reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and effect our sleep quality especially the second half of the night. Where’s the fun in that!
I now save my glass of wine for the weekend so that even if it does affect me I don’t have mentally demanding things to deal with the morning after.
No screen time for an hour before bed!
I don’t know about you but my phone is the extension of my hand. It’s my agenda, communication tool, entertainer and everything in between. Although I don’t sit scrolling for hours through social media, I am guilty of checking my notifications more often that I would like to.
Blue light emitted from the phone screen suppresses the production of the sleep hormone melatonin so it’s advised to avoid using your phone or laptop for an hour before sleep. I found that checking my phone before sleep was stimulating and left me a bit restless. Now I try not to check my phone after 9:30 and just read a book before bed preferably in physical form rather than ebooks. I have the Kindle Paperwhite which is better than other e-readers on that respect but still emits blue light.
10 minutes meditation for sweet dreams!
I have spoken before about how much I appreciate the benefits of meditation on my mood and mental well-being. I start every morning with a 15 minutes meditation (read about my morning routine here) but I rarely used to meditate again before bed. I now try to do a 5-10 minutes meditation before I fall asleep as it helps me switch off and leave the day behind me, empty my mind and have a better quality of sleep.
Every hour of sleep before midnight is worth two after midnight!
When I used to be at uni I used to be a night owl, studying until the early morning hours and waking up late. I never thought I would be a morning person but the older I get the better I feel when waking up early in the morning. This means that I also got to bed early at night. The latest I would be in bed on a school night would be 23:30.
I have seen though a huge beneficial impact on the quality of my sleep when I manage to get myself to bed any time before 22:30. And research backs up my experience.
Massage with Aromatherapy oil!
Aromatherapy has been used for its healing power for thousands of years from ancient cultures in China, Egypt and more and it has gained even more recognition over the recent years. I love using aromatherapy oils and recently I have been using the Tisserand Aromatherapy Total De-Stress Massage and Body Oil to massage my shoulders and neck before bed. It combines 100% natural pure essential oils of Sweet Orange, balancing Geranium and warming Nutmeg to help reduce feelings of anxiety and instantly relaxes me without being too heady like some other aromatherapy oils.
What are your tricks for a good night’s sleep?