After a good night’s sleep do you feel like you could conquer the world?
A good night’s sleep is good for our health, energy levels and mental well-being, yet it’s often something we can only dream of: seeming as unobtainable as finding gold at the end of a rainbow or spotting a unicorn on a lockdown walk. There are many products on the market, including my own pillow spray which I swear by, that help increase the chances of achieving that dream sleep. Unfortunately, on their own they cannot achieve a sleep panacea but when combined with a bedtime routine they can work wonders.
Sleep Hygiene is a new buzz word that’s frequently bandied around but, what exactly does it mean? We need to be aware of factors that affect our sleep and follow a regular routine before going to bed that eliminates these and prepares our body and mind for sleep. Trying to go to bed at a similar time each evening will help the body get into a sleep routine.
Our brains are active in the day but naturally towards evening they begin to produce the hormone melatonin. Melatonin makes us feel sleepy and helps us settle down and fall asleep quickly. It is produced as the lights dim, which explains why children struggle to sleep in summer when it’s still daylight. However, blue light, which is produced by technology, suppresses the production of melatonin. This can either prevent you falling asleep or staying asleep through the night. By switching off electronic gadgets and allowing the brain to slow down from the day will increase the production of melatonin.
As well as reducing blue light in an evening, it is important to get at least twenty minutes natural daylight each day. A walk around the block at lunchtime would achieve this. Natural daylight helps the pineal gland recognise when the light is dimming in an evening to start producing melatonin.
Alcohol, caffeine and sugar can also influence sleep patterns. Caffeine boosts energy and is a stimulant that remains in your system many hours after you have consumed it. As a general rule it is best to avoid caffeine after lunch to ensure any energy created by it has been used up by bedtime. Alcohol and sugar are also stimulants that should be avoided before bed. Initially they increase glucose levels which make you sleepy but after a couple of hours they work as a stimulant on your system. This is why you might fall asleep quickly after eating late or having a couple of glasses of wine but find yourself waking in the early hours.
Setting the scene is also important, your bedroom should be a serene place removed from the stresses and strains of the day. Subdued yellow lighting is more calming than bright white light. Aroma also plays an important part in creating a restful atmosphere. Using scented candles, a room or pillow spray or an oil burner with a relaxing blend of oils such as lavender, ylang ylang or geranium will help calm the mind and relax the body. A warm bath with salts and essential oils are an effective way to slow down and symbolically wash away the trials and tribulations of the day.
Temperature is also crucial to a good night’s sleep. If you are too cold or too hot you will wake up. Have a window on the latch for fresh air, turn the radiator down so the room is not too hot and stuffy and have at least two covers on the bed. Then if you are cold use both covers or hot use one and this should help you regulate your temperature and keep you from fully waking out of a deep sleep.
Finally, as you go to sleep, or if you are awake in the night concentrate on breathing deeply from your stomach. Focus on the beautiful smells from the aromatherapy oils and enjoy feeling comfortable and being able to lie and relax. Keep your mind on these things rather than starting a dialogue about needing to get to sleep. As soon as your mind gets active you will find it very difficult to still it. Remain as present as you can and hopefully you will soon be drifting off to sleep…
Do you have a sleep routine that works for you? It would be good to hear examples. I find reading stories that are not too dramatic and having a relaxing blend on my pillow helps and if I find it’s taking a while to drift off I literally count my blessings and that seems to work! What do you do?