January being the time for resolutions, I got to thinking about resolutions that I’ve made in the past. I’ve done a few of the usual; get fitter, healthier, give up or take up something. The one that stuck out, seemed a fairly humble one, however it is something so many people are struggling with. It was simply to sleep. After a New Year’s Eve drinking expresso martinis, it was 5am and I was still awake, wired and tired.
The next day, my resolution formed into a more solid plan to learn to create better sleep habits for the year ahead.
Resolving disturbed sleep is one of the greatest acts of self-care that you can give yourself, one well worth investing in. If you have children you know how different they are when tired. We are no different. How well we sleep affects everything; weight, mood, happiness, learning, concentration… Imbalances in hormone levels due to lack of sleep can lead to craving sugar caffeine and junk food. Sleep is curative, the time when your body fights the baddies, & repairs the tears. Sleep deficiency is linked to many conditions; common infections, early aging, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and obesity. I recently read that in a few years we will consider sleep deprivation as much of a health problem as smoking. But for now we seem to expect ourselves to carry on using drugs like caffeine to power through tiredness.
Bad sleep habits, like any other can be changed. What keeps you awake at night? What wakes you up? Deal with these if you can. Change the job, ditch the partner, or less drastic, wear ear plugs, get better curtains or an eye mask if the light wakes you up. Buy bed socks if your feet are cold.
Start preparing for better sleep during the day
Cut down on caffeine - some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others, if you do have problems sleeping you should aim to cut it out, start by cutting down and try to have no coffee after 12pm, and no tea after 3,
Try magnesium supplementation - especially if you regularly have coffee (even decaff), tea, alcohol, sugar, are stressed, experience insomnia or migraines. Nearly everyone is deficient and this affects sleep in a big way, along with many other health issues, so is well worth taking seriously.
Fresh air and Exercise - getting outside has long been known to be great for reducing anxiety, being a mental health boost and giving you essential doses of vitamin D.
Research shows that exercise during the day increases total sleep time at night. Studies also now show increased benefits to exercising when done outside. So multi task your benefits by exercising outside. Don’t exercise close to bed time though, some gentle stretchy yoga is fine but no heart raising cardio.
We are not robots we don’t have an off switch, like children we need good relaxing bedtime routine: here are my top tips.
Chill out for an hour before bed if you can. Dim the lights, and use no screens at least half an hour (preferably more), before bedtime. Have a warm bath or shower, paint your nails, do some gentle stretches, read a book…… We are all different….. Find out what relaxes you and do that.
Try some simple breathing and meditation techniques. Meditation is not all siting in the lotus position chanting “om”. Sometimes just lying comfortably in bed focusing on slowing down and deepening your breath is often enough to help you drift off.
I don’t recommend sleeping tablets, but there are several supplements that I am not averse to occasionally taking to establish good sleep patterns. My favourites are Pasiflora, Melatonin, and Nytol herbal. (For more about these or this topic in general, email me for a more detailed info sheet.)
Treat yourself to a warm bed by investing in an electric blanket or a couple of snuggly hot water bottles. Getting into a cold bed is not nice , it undoes the hard work you’ve put into relaxing up until this point. If you wake up cold in the night an all-night electric under blanket could be the answer.
And remember no screens in bed…. If you want to read get a book!!!
So this year will you make all the usual health and fitness resolutions? Or will you commit to making some small practical changes to your life to allow yourself the time and energy to make healthier choices all year?
I’d love to know what you think or if you have success with any of these tips. Do feel free to get in touch.
Wishing you a restful, energized, productive 2017.
“For a healthier happier you”
The Holistic Life Coach
Holistic & Natural Solutions for Health and Wellbeing