Top tips for a good night's sleep
“Sleep is the best meditation.” — Dalai Lama
This year World Sleep Day falls on Friday 17th March. The annual event, held the Friday before Spring Vernal Equinox, is intended to be a celebration of sleep and a call to action on important issues related to sleep, with this year’s theme being:
‘Sleep is Essential for Health. Just like eating well and exercising, sleep is a behavior that is foundational to one’s physical, mental, and social well-being’.
We know that sleep is essential - Sleeping helps us to recover from the physical and mental exertions we face each day. A healthy sleep pattern has been proven to reduce serious health problems, such as obesity, hypertension, depression, and even Alzheimer’s. But many of us are struggling to get the recommended 8 – 9 hours of sleep each night, with the NHS suggesting that 1 in 3 of us suffers from poor sleep, with stress, online distractions and taking work home often blamed.
This brilliant Ted Talk by Matt Walker author of the International Bestseller, Why We Sleep, is a must-watch for anyone looking to understand more about the importance of sleep - ‘Sleep is your superpower’
Our cognitive functions can also be affected by sleep deprivation, so you could say that this is quite an important topic. A few small lifestyle adjustments can make all the difference. We are by no means experts but we thought we would share some of the everyday strategies we find help us to drift off and stay in the Land of Nod:
- Do your best to go to bed and get up at roughly the same time each day in an effort to programme your body into a sleep routine.
- Try getting daily sunlight exposure, preferably combined with some exercise. Research shows that regular walkers had longer and better quality sleep, and it can even reduce the number of sleepless nights for those suffering from insomnia.
- Go easy on stimulants such as caffeine. Caffeine is great for kick-starting our day, but it can wreak havoc with our body clocks and even have an effect on the length of time we sleep up to six hours after we've consumed it.
- Embrace the benefits of lavender oil. It will come as no surprise that essential oils are a key element to my sleep routine. British researchers in 2012 reviewed the scientific evidence associated with lavender oil and found when lavender was inhaled it could help to improve sleep. There are a number of ways to get your nightly hit of lavender, from simply dropping a few drops of oil on your bedding or using a pillow mist to enjoying your favourite blend in an aroma diffuser.
Discover our Day+Night duo to help create a relaxing environment and aid a restful nights sleep naturally.
- Cut the light. Try to make your bedroom as dark as possible; blackout blinds are great - especially as the sun starts to rise earlier. Also, do your best to avoid smartphones and computers before you go to bed, because as well as pinging social media alerts forcing your brain to remain active, the blue light emitting from your screens actually suppresses levels of melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles; it should increase when you are preparing for bedtime and decrease as the sun rises in the morning, signalling your brain to wake up. The blue light can be filtered out using specific apps or by changing the settings on your device, but there are still plenty of skateboarding squirrel TikToks waiting to keep your mind stimulated well into the early hours…
- Listen to a lullaby or sleep story. Yes, you read that right. I have been listening to sleep stories and lullabies for a few years now and if you haven’t heard (not an ad but personal favourite!) Stephen Fry’s velvety voice reading 'Blue Gold' or Matthew McConaughey’s soothing tones when reading 'Wonder' you are missing a treat. But if sleep stories are not your thing sleep.org suggests that ‘putting on some tunes can help you fall asleep faster, wake up less during the night, and feel more rested in the morning. Music can help sleepers of all ages, from toddlers through to the elderly, at naptime and night time alike.’ Again a couple of personal recommendations to try include:
- The Sync Project, suggest that, just as lullabies help children calm down and slow their heart rate, adults also have the necessity to access music that creates these physiological changes to ease sleep.
- Spotify. Working with classical composer Max Richter and neuroscientist David Eagleman Spotify developed an 8 hour playlist for world sleep day back in 2018.
Or you could create your own playlist; there are zillions of songs out there that meet the lullaby criteria of 60-80 beats per minute including lullaby renditions of Ed Sheeran and Beyoncé! Just remember, whether a sleep story or music to help you sleep, download them so you can still have those pesky devices on sleep mode.
- Write it down - did you know that writing down your thoughts and to-do lists could help improve the quality of your sleep? Treat yourself to a quality journal and pen to have at the side of your bed, and try jotting down a list for the next day to help stop your mind racing with the things you have to do. Don’t just take our word for it: a study in 2018 by Baylor University and Emory University found evidence that ‘Jotting Down Tasks Can Speed the Trip to Dreamland’ so when you are lying awake pick up a pen and put today's thoughts to rest and prepare for the following day, leaving you to focus on sleeping.
We would love it if you would share any of your sleep-enhancing tips.
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Have a peaceful weekend. x