The key to sleeping soundly
Speak to any parent of a child under three (or ten) and ask what they would want more of and the answer is usually a resounding chorus of SLEEP!
And whilst there is little doubt for most of these parents that this sleep debt will be worth it and will be hopefully short lived, what about the rest of the population waking up bleary eyed grasping for that first cup of coffee to propel them into the day?
Sleep disturbances are usually one of the first symptoms that our wellness is suffering.
This will usually be due to issues in one or a combination of three main areas of our health; our emotional health, our diet and our movement.
Journal for clarity
Stress and worry can greatly affect our sleep. That impending deadline at work, a friend that isn’t well or our own relationship ups and downs can have us lying awake chewing over thoughts and making plans for how we will deal with the worst case scenarios that may never happen. Taking time before bed to sit with a journal and dump all the events and thoughts of the day out on the page is incredibly helpful. This isn’t a list of things to do, or a an essay that anyone else will need to read, but simply a vehicle to create space in your mind and dump the often jumbled array of thoughts out onto a page where we can see them with a bit more perspective.
Eat to sleep
When it comes to our dietary choices adversely affecting our sleep, the aforementioned caffeine and sugar are the number one culprits. The phrase “tired but wired” sums up how many feel crawling into bed – desperate for some rest but are restless and unable to settle. Coffee after midday or sugary food that is often grabbed in that afternoon slump needs to be replaced by a whole food lunch with healthy fats and protein and herbal teas and water. This provides sustained nutrient dense fuel to get you through the rest of the day.
Move to sleep
Movement will most definitely assist in improving your sleep. It can be a simple around the block walk at lunch time, walking to the train instead of driving, or ten minutes of a gentle online yoga class. Endorphins, healthy blood circulation and improved breathing will all contribute to a state of increased wellbeing that will see flow on effects for your sleep, stress and sugar cravings.
The last element that needs to be mentioned when it comes to improving our sleep is our use of screens late at night and the effects of long term exposure to the blue light of our computers during the day. There are many products including glasses and shields that are designed to screen out the blue light that disturbs our endocrine system that governs our sleep cycle.
Most importantly though, creating a ritual in the evenings before bed where the lights get turned down and the screens are turned off is one of the fastest ways to signal to our bodies that it is time to wind down before sleep.
Remember as you begin to put some of these actions in place, it’s the smaller habits that we do most often that create the long term change we seek. Start with small changes that will have the most impact on your life and always seek professional help where needed.