Updated: Mar 4
A good night sleep is essential for both your physical and mental health. Did you know that a lack of sleep is linked to high cholesterol, memory reduction, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimers, mood swings and hormonal imbalances? This is because a full quality night's sleep allows the brain and body to repair itself fully.
TIPS FOR IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF YOUR SLEEP:
Try a combination of the below suggestions consistently for at least two weeks to ensure you reset your internal body clock.
Reset your body clock
The pineal gland runs your body clock and thrives on a regular sleep routine. So try and go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday.
Blackout Blinds or Curtains
Part of your body clock routine should include investing in some blackout blinds or curtains in your bedroom. A dark room tells the pineal gland in your brain that it is night-time and so the quality of your sleep will be deeper. When the pineal gland senses light it triggers the brain to wake you up.
Expose yourself to bright light every morning
Another body clock routine tip is to help your circadian sleep rhythm and stimulate your pineal gland to wake up by opening all the curtains and even go outside into natural light.
Exercise 3 hours before bedtime
If you do exercise try to avoid exercising too late into the evening as you re-energise the body in a way that may be too stimulating for sleep.
Eat 3 hours before bedtime
Your body has to work hard to digest a meal late at night and so can effect the quality of your sleep, so do not eat a meal 3 hours before bedtime. Organise your evening to eat before 7pm.
Avoid or Limit Alcohol
Although it may feel like you go to sleep more deeply after drinking, research shows that you actually wake up more frequently through the night and have lighter lower quality sleep for the rest of the night. So those few glasses of wine down wine can actually increase longer term sleep reduction and increase stress.
Limit Caffeine after midday
Caffeine is a stimulant and lowers the quality of your sleep, whilst also waking you up earlier for your next caffeine fix if drunk regularly. Avoid coffee, tea, coke, darker chocolate and even green tea after midday for an ongoing period to see an improvement.
Create a bedtime relaxation routine
For a minimum of 30 minutes before bedtime do things that wind you down and reduce the stress hormone in your body. Take a relaxing bath, read a book, deep breathe, meditate... whatever relaxes you. Turn off all screens and allow your body and mind to relax the day away.
No Tech or screens 90 minutes before bedtime
Research shows that creating a no screen rule 90 minutes before bedtime reduces stress and settles the brain ready for sleep. The light from screens stimulates the brain and also the blue light from screens reduces levels of a hormone called melatonin which effects sleep patterns. It would also be beneficial to remove all technology and screens from your bedroom and charge gadgets in another room. Why not Invest in an alarm clock instead of relying on your built in phone alarm?
If you must have a night light or have an electronic clock in your room ensure they have red lights. Red light has the lowest light stimulation effect on the brain.
Try some Reflexology
Reflexology has a calming effect on the parasympathetic nervous system which moves the body from 'fight and flight' to 'rest and digest'. Studies have show that this gentle therapy can reduce the stress hormone cortisol with many people reporting back that it noticeably lowers their stress levels and improves the quality of their sleep.
Book your Reflexology session at a Bushey, Hertfordshire based therapy room: www.headtotoeharmony.co.uk
NHS 'Trouble Sleeping?': https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/sleep/?WT.tsrc=Search&WT.mc_id=Sleep&gclid=CjwKCAiAnfjyBRBxEiwA-EECLE7agndBzLNA_N3b_9Uk8r_WpI4GUga4OzQXzQqKAeFfPBmiMFM2-xoCK7QQAvD_BwE
NHS Why a Lack of Sleep is Bad for your Health: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/why-lack-of-sleep-is-bad-for-your-health/
Ted Video: What would Happen if you Didn't Sleep?: https://youtu.be/dqONk48l5vY
Ted Talk: Sleep is your Superpower: https://www.ted.com/talks/matt_walker_sleep_is_your_superpower?language=en