You may have noticed that this month, we’ve been emphasising on the importance of sleep. We’ve touched on some of the main culprits that can be ruining your sleep, the foods that could be to blame, what to eat instead and how to fall back asleep if you happen to wake up in the middle of the night. We’ve learnt that technology use is a huge sleep inhibitor and that caffeine may not be your friend after all. Taking all this into account, nutritionist Brittany Darling (@wholefoodhealing) shares 10 ways you can really improve your sleep:
1. Update your bedroom
Create a calming space that encourages you to relax without distractions with gentle lighting or candle and save the bedroom for sleep and intimacy. Avoid where possible using your bedroom as a workspace.
2. Limit stimulants
Alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, sugar, we’re looking at you! Avoid caffeine after 3pm and be aware of other evening habits that act as stimulants, affecting your chance of falling into a restful sleep.
3. Establish a calming ‘pre-sleep routine’
Start winding down and getting ready a few hours before you plan to go to bed, brew a cup of your favourite non-caffeinated tea, read a few chapters of a book or take 10 minutes to stretch out the day on your yoga mat.
4. Go to sleep when you are truly tired
Don’t ignore the first signs of sleepiness, as soon as you feel your head start to drop and your eyes shut, take yourself to bed.
5. Create screen time boundaries
Exposure to blue light from screens and devices suppresses the production of melatonin more than any other type of light. Decreased production of melatonin affects our ability to get to sleep, as it disturbs our bodies natural circadian rhythm. Avoid use of iPad, phones and TV 1 hour before bed and don’t look at as soon as you wake up.
6. Ensure adequate intake of protein, especially in evening meal
We need protein for the synthesis of important neurotransmitters that play an important role in helping us to fall asleep.
7. Create a consistent sleep schedule (wake up at the same time every day)
Try to avoid waking up at different times every day decide on a set time to wake up each morning. Allow yourself to catch up on sleep at the weekends, but try where possible not to sleep to the point where your bedtime will be affected the following evening. And if possible disable the snooze button on your alarm!
8. Avoid excessive fluid intake before bed
Try to tail off your fluid intake towards the end of the day in order to avoid having to wake in the night to use the bathroom. If you find yourself waking up thirsty during the night, sleep with a glass of water next to your bed so you don’t have to get up.
9. Try to exercise earlier on in the day
Often referred to as the “body clock,” the circadian rhythm is a cycle that tells our bodies when to sleep, rise, eat—regulating many physiological processes. We want to try and follow our bodies natural peak in cortisol (first thing in the morning) and then start to wind down in the afternoon. If you exercise at night you will be throwing off your circadian rhythm and cortisol cycle.
10. Turn your alarm clock away from you and resist the temptation of checking it throughout the night
Don’t be a nighttime clockwatcher! Getting stressed over the time and trying to work out how much sleep you will get if you were to fall asleep soon will make you far less likely to fall asleep. If you can’t get to sleep, try to repeat your pre-sleep routine, or listen to some soothing music for 10 minutes.