Tired of feeling tired all the time? Good quality sleep is critically important in restoring your body and improving brain function, but in today’s “always on” world, it’s often sadly neglected. While we’re snoozing, our body has time to work some magic. Among other things, it produces hormones to help us fight infections, and encodes pathways to solidify new learning and memories. We know how important sleep is, but when you’re in the midst of a box-set it’s easy to neglect that shut-eye.
Why is too little shut eye a problem?
Research shows that when we don’t get enough sleep our ability to concentrate, perform, and deal with stress are all negatively affected. Not to mention an increased risk of high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and depression. If our bodies don’t get enough sleep many important parts of our wellbeing are compromised, such as memories, learning, and responses. It’s also vital that we get good quality sleep. The deeper stages of “slow-wave sleep” (SWS) are thought to be the most restorative, and research suggests that when we don’t get enough good quality SWS it can be problematic for our health.
Tips for Sleeping Soundly
Limit screen time: The blue light emitted from smartphones and other electronic devices suppresses the hormone melatonin which we need to nod off. Power off your devices in the evening and you’ll probably be asleep before you know it.
Exercise, but not too late: Exercise can promote relaxation and raise your core body temperature in ways that are beneficial for encouraging and maintaining sleep. Make sure you leave at least 3 hours after exercising before hitting the sack or the extra energy might keep you up.
Keep tabs on the caffeine: We love a cup of coffee first thing and never say no to a mid-morning brew but after the clock strikes twelve (p.m) it’s a good idea to switch and help your body start winding down. Caffeine has a half-life in your body, meaning that while it might give you a much-needed boost, that boost can last for a long time and even affect your sleep patterns if you’re consuming it into the afternoon. Besides coffee, watch out for caffeine in black and green teas, cocoa, chocolate, soft drinks and many over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.
Soothe any stress from the day: Stress and anxiety can trigger insomnia. Try relaxing by meditating, massage, yoga, or just a nice hot shower to “wash the day away”. When you’ve turned the lights out take a moment to count your blessings and to focus on three things you’re grateful for.
Look after your gut: Serotonin, which is produced in the gut, is the building block of the ‘get-good-sleep’ hormone: melatonin. In fact, serotonin, and your gut health can impact your sleep more powerfully than you might realise. Making sure you have a good diet and supplementing with probiotics will work wonders.
Ease off the tipple: While a glass or two of wine might send you straight to sleep, it doesn’t result in the “good quality” sleep that’s essential to our health and wellbeing. Research shows that alcohol can result in increased wake periods or light stage sleep periods. While alcohol can make us feel relaxed, if we drink too much close to bedtime it can lead to sleep disturbance.
Our favourite tools to help to get a good night’s sleep:
Mighty Magnesium: One mineral in particular can almost instantly reduce your body’s stress load and improve the quality of your sleep. Magnesium helps to balance blood sugar, optimize blood circulation and blood pressure, relax tense muscles, reduce pain and calm the nervous system. But because it has so many functions, it tends to be depleted from our bodies rather quickly. We supplement with our very own Night Time which contains a natural form of magnesium from the mineral-rich waters of the Dead Sea. We’ve also included premium hops extract and natural 5-HTP to add to a restful nights sleep.
Sleepcycle: This handy app tracks sleep and provides insights that can help you take specific actions to improve the duration and quality of your sleep.
Blue light blocking: If you own an iOS device, we recommend switching to night mode after sunset. Alternatively, f:lux is a great app that provides an orange filter to block blue light.
Paradoxical thinking: This is a technique that works well for some people. Ever found that when you’re trying to get to sleep the more you try, the more you worry about not sleeping. Paradoxical thinking turns things upside down. While you lay in bed trying to get to sleep, tell yourself to stay awake and try to stay awake. This can relieve the stress from too much “trying” to sleep and result in a relaxed state that helps you, weirdly enough, drift off.