Proven tips for a restful night
Updated: Feb 10, 2021
Sleep deprivation is something that we've all complained about at some point or another, and for some people it can be a chronic problem. I too, have suffered from sleep issues and notice that when I am stressed or deviate from my bedtime routine, my sleep quality really suffers.
Sleep is SO important for our bodies to recover, repair and regenerate, yet some people use it as a badge of honor when they claim to be able to fully function on "only fours sleep".
Call me controversial, but these people are lying to themselves. On average, adults need around 7-9 hours of sleep for our bodies to function optimally (not just to survive). This can be quite a challenge, especially if you have children, work shifts, travel...or just caught up in the rat race of life!
And yes, you may be able to do it for a short period, but after a while, sleep deprivation will start to take it's toll on your body. It wreaks havoc on your immune system, digestion, hormones, brain function...you get the point.
Over the last year, I have learnt to prioritize my sleep like it was a pill for keeping me in good health. I noticed a difference in my energy levels, cognition, hormones and mood. It wasn't easy. It takes discipline, especially when you feel like it's the only time of day you have for yourself. And like everyone else, I fall off the wagon sometimes, but my body always reminds me to hit reset when I"m doing it too often.
In no particular order, here are some of the game-changers that helped me get a good nights' kip:
1. No technology one hour before bed. This helps to calm my brain down and stops me from mindlessly scrolling through social media or emails. This includes the news too - our brains need a break from the constant stimulation. I call it the 'Golden Hour' and I try to have the same rule for the morning. If you can't manage the full hour, perhaps try 30 minutes to allow some down time for your brain.
2. Daily Gratitude - I always write down three to five things that I am grateful for that day. On today's list, I will definitely be including the wonderful blue skies and glorious sunshine. This helps me go to bed with a positive attitude and feeling good about the small things in my day that bought me joy. If you don't want to write them down, you can always say them in your mind before you drift off as a daily practice.
3. Tapping - It should come as no surprise that tapping makes it on this list! Tapping or EFT as it is also known, stands for Emotional Freedom Technique and it does just that. It's an instant stress-relieving tool that works in minutes, faster than any drug. It's perfect to practice before bed as our minds tend to be very active with many of us ruminating on the negatives of the day.
You don't need a specific script but instead reflect on the stressors of your day while tapping on the points and say; "Releasing and letting go of... [e.g the meeting with my boss]".
Do this for a few rounds and finish by tapping and saying "I'm ready to clear my mind for a good night's sleep. I choose to relax now. It's safe for my body to relax and sleep."
Practice this for a few rounds and you should be feeling calm and relaxed and ready for bed.
4. Journal - I don't do this everyday, but if I'm going through a period of high stress, I definitely make it a priority to write down my worries or to-do lists and get it out on paper. Journaling helps to detach yourself from the problem and be more objective about the issue. My brain feels like I have offloaded and I fall asleep so much easier.
5. Avoid alcohol - As much as I enjoy a glass of wine to unwind in the evening, I know it won't allow me to have a night of restorative sleep. I call it 'drunk sleep' even if I've only had one drink, because I ALWAYS wake up in the night around 3am (when the liver is detoxing), eventually fall asleep again and then wake up feeling unrefreshed and groggy.
6. Nil by mouth after 9:00pm. As a general rule, I don't snack after dinner and try not to drink too many fluids. Your gut needs a break from digestion and a heavy meal or sugary snack will definitely make it harder for you to sleep. Plus, if I drink too much before bed, I have to get up to use the bathroom which totally messes up my sleep cycle.
7. Try to go to bed at the same time every day. The reason we instill a bedtime for our kids is that their bodies thrive on routine...so do we! Going to bed at the same time every day helps your body clock regulate its natural circadian rhythms.
8. Morning sun and dim lighting at night. Our day is filled with so much exposure to light and sound from the moment we wake up and because of this, our brains have a hard time switching off. Ideally to get your circadian clock working optimally, try to get some morning sun (no sunglasses), even if it's stepping out for 5-10 minutes. This natural light sends signals to your brain that it's time to wake up. Similarly, in the evening, dim the lighting in your environment and avoid technology/screen time so your body knows it's time to rest.
9. Blue light blocking glasses have been a lifesaver for my digital hygiene. I get it, sometimes we need to work or WANT to unwind on the sofa watching Netflix. If you are going to do that, you MUST invest in a pair of blue light blocking glasses. These glasses stop the blue light from these devices getting into your eyes which stops the production of melatonin, (the hormone you need for sleep). I put mine on every evening once the sun goes down and have my whole family wearing them! They're also great for traveling when you want to get some sleep on the plane with all those bright lights or adjust to a new time zone.
There are many brands on the market, my favs include Lady Boss, Blublox and Swanwick Sleep.
10. Magnesium. This magic mineral is great for calming down your nervous system and telling your body it's time for sleep. You can take a Epsom Salt bath and soak for a minimum of 15 minutes, rub a magnesium oil/gel around your neck and shoulders, or take in supplement form. There are several types of magnesium supplements, I have used Magnesium Glycinate successfully in the past.
11. Essential oils. Of course! I use oils for everything in my life! I keep a diffuser by my bedside table and love diffusing different blends. At the moment, I'm diffusing four drops of lavender, four drops of bergamot and three drops of lime, SOO good!
Lavender is a proven favorite for bedtime and if you don't want to diffuse, you can put a couple of drops on your pillow or at the back of your neck to instantly calm your nervous system down.
12. Belly breathing with the double breath. If nothing else, breathing in for four counts and breathing out for eight, can really regulate your mental and physical state. It's so powerful! I like to do this while laying in bed with one hand on my belly (feeling it rise as I breathe in) and the other hand on my chest. I usually do a round of four of these diaphragmatic double breaths and feel totally relaxed. It's also a good go-to if you wake up in the middle of the night and can't fall asleep again.
13. Turn off devices or switch to airplane mode. Another intervention that has really made a difference is turning my phone off completely every night to reduce my exposure from the WiFi and EMF (Electromagnetic Fields) radiation. Why? It disrupts your sleep! There is SO much research about the negative health impacts of EMF radiation, which your body senses as a threat or stressor. Without going into too much detail, your pineal gland (responsible for producing sleep and circadian rhythm hormone, melatonin), slows down production. This is just one impact on health, the list is huge.
So ideally, you don't want your phone near your head (and definitely not under your pillow) while you sleep and you want to make sure it's switched off. If that's not possible or you use your phone as an alarm, trying switching to airplane mode so you aren't exposed to the radiation.
14. Mindful minute. If you're still struggling with sleep because you're a shift worker or have young children, then you're probably reading this thinking it doesn't apply to you. It does! Where you can, try and incorporate these strategies in smaller doses, as often as you can. Another powerful tip that can really boost energy levels throughout the day is taking a mindful minute. Close your eyes and take a few deep belly breaths for sixty seconds. Do this several times a day and even if you're a tired mum of a baby that doesn't sleep, this is like a mini re-charge and reset for your mind and body. (I do this in the bathroom as it's sometimes the only place I can get some peace and quiet). It sounds too good to be true, but it really works! Closing your eyes is key because it allows your brain to switch off from any distractions in your environment.
So there you are; to some this list may sound very virtuous, to others, maybe overwhelming. No one is asking you to do it all. There's no judgement, it's your choice!
Maybe just pick a couple and do them consistently over two weeks or more.
I don't think you'll be disappointed...the results will speak for themselves.
I would love for you to comment below if you tried any of these tips and if they helped.
Stay Naturally Nourished :)