Difficulty sleeping is incredibly common. I have lost track of the number of clients who have said to me they struggle to get a good night’s rest – whether it be due to struggling to fall asleep or not being able to get the golden eight hours. This is the time where your body heals and restores itself therefore poor sleep not only causes lack of focus and fatigue but it can disrupt your hormonal balance. This usually manifests externally as breakouts and lacklustre skin that ages a lot more rapidly. It isn’t called beauty sleep for no reason 😉
The great news is that if you’re currently not sleeping well, there are so many ways in which you can improve the quality of your sleep
This blog post highlights a few of my favourite ways to transform your sleep from a restless to restful.
1. Make your bedroom a calm haven.
The surroundings you sleep in will impact the quality of your sleep. Your bedroom needs to be clean and organised as sleeping in a cluttered room is not very zen!
Make sure your room is airy- getting too hot at night can cause you to keep waking so make sure it’s nice and cool but not too cold because this can also negatively impact sleep. Find what works well for you.
About an hour before bed I like to dim the light to help ease me into sleep by triggering the release of melatonin – the powerful sleep hormone. I have a Lumie alarm clock which has a sunset feature on it, this automatically dims the light over a period of time and shuts itself off, its excellent. Alternatively switch off the main lights and have a bedside lamp on.
Make your room as dark as possible as light can deplete secretion of melatonin. This includes digital clocks, hide them! If you struggle with this then eye pillows work a treat. Your bedroom needs to be free of noise – this is difficult if you live on a busy road so you may have to consider a ‘white noise’ machine/app – which can help mask any external noise. If all else fails there is always ear plugs!
2. There is nothing quite like sleep aromatherapy.
Your sense of smell is one of your most powerful senses and can positively impact your emotions- I absolutely love This Works Deep sleep heavenly candle which is hand blended with lavender and chamomile oils. It lasts for ages and makes your room smell just like a spa. Another favourite of mine is this this works deep sleep spray which works amazingly well to soothe the body and mind. A little spritz on your pillow will aid restful sleep.
3. Have a warm shower/bath about an hour before bed.
Generally whilst my candle is burning (in a safe manner!) I have a warm shower or a bath with my therapie himalayan detox salts which has a really powerful sedative effect and smells divine. This helps to relax my muscles and prepare me mentally for bed. If I smell nice and fresh I sleep much better! (This includes brushing your teeth and flossing!) Always buy pyjamas that are light, airy and comfortable, I am addicted to buying pyjamas, (these are my faves!!) you can’t beat a set of freshly washed and ironed pyjamas that make you feel happy!
4. Follow your facial ritual and moisturise your body.
Once you have hopped out the bath/shower, prepare your face for bed- yes, preparing your face is not just for leaving the house! You should invest in a good quality face and eye cream. I always like apply some lip balm on too especially in the winter when the air is dry. This is followed by massaging my body with moisturiser/oil to soothe any remaining aches of the day away. Some gentle background music playing will help induce your mind into a state of relaxation.
5. Have yourself a natural sleep potion.
A warm drink before bed can work wonders, not those sugar-laden ones, I mean herbal teas! My favourite ‘sleep tea’ at the moment is Clipper Organic Sleep Easy tea. Its naturally caffeine free and a wonderful orange scent, it really does make me sleepy! Turmeric milk can also be soothing before bed.
(If you’re one of those who gets woken up by the call of nature – you may wish to have your sleep potion a little earlier on!)
6. What you eat and drink during the day impacts sleep more than you think.
If you really cannot survive without coffee then try and have this earlier on in the day. It is best to try and minimise your caffeine intake as best as you can – common sources of caffeine include coffee, tea (yes tea! the exception being caffeine free herbal teas) soda, chocolate and caffeinated beverages. Caffeine disturbs your bodies natural sleep hormones and can negatively impact sleep.
If you’re planning on having an alcoholic drink then do so early evening. Alcohol can be mistaken for helping aid sleep however it causes your blood sugar levels to drop during the night causing you to wake and causes dehydration. Too much alcohol will also disturb your bodies natural rhythm.
Keep your evening meal light and try incorporate carbs to help you fall asleep faster. Try have your last meal at least two to three hours before your bedtime otherwise eating after this period can lead to problems such as heartburn and indigestion. Avoid chocolate before bedtime as it can also act as a stimulant.
7. Take regular exercise – timing is important.
Regular exercise is amazing for your body and just as little as twenty minutes a day can help aid restful sleep. However high intensity exercise too close to bedtime can disrupt sleep. Ideally exercise should be earlier in the day to help induce energy which you can use to have a progressive day. If you struggle to exercise early, then try opt for less intensive alternatives such as yoga and pilates which can feel wonderfully tranquil to do before bed.
8. Adopt a routine.
Our bodies love routine and sleep is no exception. Aim to go to sleep and wake at the same time everyday, it helps to set your circadian rhythm so you’re body isn’t always in a state of shock from lack of routine. My lumie alarm clock is set for sunset and sunrise at the same time each day and has been instrumental in helping me wake up naturally. Rarely do I have to be woken by the harsh sound of my alarm.
9. Associate your bed with sleep.
Your bedroom should be free of electronic devices – TV, laptop and most importantly mobile phone! We are all incredibly guilty of this but checking your Instagram or Facebook before you fall asleep is not essential to life! You want a good flow of energy, avoid use of all electronic devices for at least an hour before bed, pick up a book instead!
Make sure you have done everything you need to do before you get into bed! Deal with your days issues – write them down or talk it out. Then just free your mind and concentrate on your breathing. Focussing on my breathing has helped me at times where I have struggled to fall asleep. Sleepcasts on the headspace are also excellent, I am still yet to stay awake throughout the whole episode!
Remember, we are not striving for perfection! I would be lying if I said I do all of these things every single night. The truth is I am human too and there I some nights where I literally just fall into bed. But my aim here is to inspire you to add a little happily-ever-after to your bedtime routine 🙂
And incase you’re looking for a little more sleep related enlightenment, I highly recommend Matthew Walkers: Why We Sleep