My Top 5 Tips for a Better Sleep
How well do you sleep at night?
How much sleep do you need at night?
Are you a night owl or morning birdie?
I always used to laugh at that meme doing the rounds that says “I’m not a night owl, or an early bird, I’m some sort of permanently exhausted pigeon.”
Funny because IT’S TRUE.
One of the major things I noticed when my health deteriorated was my night-time sleep quality dramatically decreased. Growing up and through into my 20’s I was a healthy 8 hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep. (With a healthy side-dose of knowing I didn’t cope well on anything less than said 8 hours)
Now knowing how important sleep is to rejuvenating all the body’s processes and chemical balances, I have whole heartedly embraced every little thing possible to help my sleep-time improve. It is crucial to helping holistically look after ourselves in the best possible way. Ain’t no body going to become a wellBEING when they’re not sleeping!
(Side note – Darren is a T>E>R>R>I>B>L>E sleeper. Years of working night shift have completely ruined his sleep pattern. He’s up half the night every night. Personally I don’t know how he functions during the day. Bless him because he puts up with my never ending list of ‘suggestions’ on how he could improve things)
My top 5 things for helping my sleep-time routine:
1. Embrace your inner grandma and get to bed EARLY. I’m talking 8.30pm here people. I know myself, and I get a second wind if I stay up past 9pm and then it’s a slippery slope to not getting any shut eye until after midnight. By getting my bedtime routine on early, I’m telling my body its time to unwind and it helps me out big time. This also means I have to screen calls and messages after 8.30pm – but everyone close to me knows this is my routine so they don’t get offended when I don’t reply til the next day!
2. Magnesium. This seemingly insignificant little chemical that I only remembered from years of elements on the periodic table at high school is actually my BFF now. I’m not loyal to one brand or type, but at the moment I use a high strength Magnesium from my local supermarket. I take 2 capsules just before heading to bed and let them start to work their magic while I’m brushing my teeth, washing my face etc. (Side note – you might need to trial your dosage, as I found I was getting heart burn regularly from taking it a few months ago. I stopped that brand, tried another and I’ve been away snoozing sans heart burn happily ever since.)
3. Block out the blue light. What is this you ask? All our screens – Computers/Laptops/Cellphones etc emit blue light and it screws with our circadian rhythms (particularly at the time of day we are supposed to be winding down and sleeping). I religiously use the function on my Iphone that switches off all blue light (called Night Mode in the settings – newer software allows you to set an automatic start & finish time overnight. I have mine set to start at 5pm and end at 9am.) I also turn the brightness on my screen down to the lowest possible before I can’t read it anymore. As an added step for when times are especially work-heavy and my screen time is an all day occupation, I have a pair of blue light blocking glasses I will wear. I don’t think there is conclusive proof yet that these will protect you 100% but I would like to think I’ve taken all steps possible, and I like thinking I’m being an early adopter for looking after my brain at night.
4. Use an acupressure mat or self-massage. There are a few different brands out there - I have a Shakti Mat that uses lots of tiny spikes as pressure points. You lie ontop of what looks like the worst idea possible, on your back, and breathe through the tension release that comes from the painful little suckers working their magic all over your back and neck. I try and do 30 minutes on my mat every night. I’ve honestly drifted off at times only to wake myself up with the snort-snore that is oh-so-sexy. If you aren’t keen to try a Shakti/Acupressure mat then have a try at some self-massage on your face when you first lie down in bed. Youtube has a billion videos but this is one of my favourites for some simple tips that you can use.
5. Read a book. Not the entire internet. This has got to be my number one tip friends. I get it, I run my own business which depends entirely on the internet. But I repeat, it is not your job to check the entire world wide web before you go to sleep at night! I have a stash of Ebooks I read on my phone while I lie on my Shakti for my 30 minutes and usually by the time I’m winding up my eyelids are heavy and I’m in a good zone for drifting off. Or if reading isn’t your jam, podcasts are the bomb. Plug in and float on a little zen cloud of self care every night.
So now you know my routine, what’s yours? Do you use any of these steps? Think you’ve got something I should add to mine?