I’ve gone through times over the last number of years when I have suffered from insomnia. Whether it was because of grief over the death of a loved one, a broken heart, stress from exams or because of medication (in my case steroids), not getting sleep sucked! It impacted not only my nights (frustration, agitation, irritation etc) but also my days when I looked and felt like a zombie. I resorted to sleeping pills which got me over the hump but some of the time resulted in an unhealthy dependency.
In my previous post, I wrote about the need of a good sleep for healthy mind, body and overall wellbeing. I’ve picked up some good tips over the years to help me not only get to sleep, but also have a better more restorative sleep. Thankfully I’ve totally ditched the tablets now and my fantastic sleeps are totally natural.
Here are my top tips:
Make your room more inviting and calming. The bedroom should be a place of only the two R’s (rest and romance!):
- Make your bed when you get up. Who wants to crawl into an unmade crumpled bed??
- Work doesn’t induce rest or romance so no work stuff in the bedroom (papers, laptops etc).
- Clear the clutter. Dirty clothes, mugs, shoes etc. Tidy them away. De-clutter your room. Think of it as feng shui. This is a big one for me, I can’t settle properly in a messy room.
- Regulate the temperature. If you are too hot or too cold it can hamper a good night’s rest.
- Make the room as dark as possible to help melatonin production (the hormone promotes sleep). Blue light (from televisions, computers, iPads, iPhones, mobiles etc) is the most disruptive light as it immediately shuts down the production of melatonin. These devices shouldn’t be used before going to bed.
- Consistency is the key. Try to get up and go to bed at the same time, even at the weekends (sorry!) so that your body falls into a natural rhythm.
- Study after study has shown that people who exercise on a regular basis tend go to sleep easier and sleep more soundly than people who don’t so get a consistent exercise routine going.
- Have a wind-down routine before bed that doesn’t involve television, internet or any stressful conversations. Have a bath, read a book or magazine, listen to some soothing music, write in a gratitude journal, meditate or do some relaxation exercises instead.
- If you are worried about something or need to remember something for the next day, write it down in a notebook and put away until the morning to take it off your mind.
Eating and drinking
- Cut down on the caffeine and sugar during the day but especially at night. If you have to drink tea or coffee have it before noon and stick to herbal teas or water the rest of the day. Otherwise you might find yourself in that ‘tired but wired’ state!
- Cut down on the alcohol. Although many say that alcohol helps them to fall asleep, unfortunately as it leaves the body, it can cause people to wake up during the night.
- Eat sleep promoting foods in the evening that are high in tryptophan which are converted to serotonin and melatonin such as spirulina, spinach, banana, nuts, seeds, and oats to name a few.
- Don’t eat a heavy meal late at night as its digestion can mess with your sleep.
- Don’t drink too many liquids before bed. While it’s bad to go to bed dehydrated, you don’t want a lovely sleep interrupted by trips to the bathroom. Been there, done that, learnt my lesson.
All these things are great and have worked for me but the thing that helped me most I feel has been ear plugs. They block out noises that might otherwise have kept me awake (snoring etc) I find that the only sound I end up hearing is the sound of my own breathing which is uber relaxing. I nod off so quickly when I use ear plugs.
If you have any tips that have worked for you I’d love to hear.
Sleep well x
Sleep is such an important component of our overall health and wellbeing. Sleep affects growth and stress hormones, our immune system, our appetite, blood pressure and cardiovascular health. Research shows that lack of sleep increases the risk for obesity, heart disease, infections and dare I say it, wrinkles and puffy skin.
Here’s a bit more about why sleep is important to get a healthy, happy, glow!
We know that sleep is needed for the body to rejuvenate and repair itself. Studies have shown a link between insufficient sleep and increased levels of stress, heart disease, heart attacks, diabetes, and obesity. Lack of sleep can suppress your immune system, which makes you more vulnerable to infections.
Better Weight Control
Getting a good night’s sleep can help in weight loss. Scientists in Uppsala University in Sweden have discovered that a lack of sleep can slow your metabolism down which in turn can have a hand in adding on the pounds.
Also when you don’t get enough sleep, your leptin levels drop. Leptin is a hormone that plays a key role in making you feel full so when you are tired you tend to be hungrier and worse still, you tend to crave high-calorie foods.
These coupled with the fact that when you are overtired you are less likely to have the energy to work-out or cook a healthy meal can be detrimental to your weight loss efforts.
When I’m tired I can be a cranky aul bitch and can get the blues where a negative mindset creeps in and my internal Mean Girl takes over the show!
Not getting enough sleep has been shown to affect your emotional regulation so you’re more likely to feel the blues, be snappy or what I like to call, delirious (laughing or crying hysterically for no apparent reason!). When I get a good night’s zzz’s I’m in a better mood and I’m more likely to bounce back from setbacks or things going wrong in the day. Better for me and better for those around me!
Better Brain Function and Memory
Who hasn’t woken up after a bad night’s sleep feeling like their brain just won’t get in gear leading to a desperate need for a caffeine fix? Not getting a good night’s sleep can impair your focus, attention span, decision making skills and cognition and can increase the likelihood of making mistakes. Not only can this have an impact on doing your job but it can have more serious consequences as the Road Safety Authority maintain that one fifth of road accidents in Ireland is due to driver fatigue.
Studies have shown that while we sleep, our brains process and consolidate all our memories from the day. If we don’t get enough sleep, it seems like those memories might not get stored correctly — and can be lost, leading to the ‘memory of a goldfish’ scenario.
We’ve all heard of the advice ‘sleep on it’ when we’ve a problem we need solving. Scientists have found that when we do this our brains still look for a solution even when we’re fast asleep. Even if you don’t wake up with an answer, a good night’s sleep will equip your brain to assess the problem afresh.
They don’t call it beauty sleep for nothing!!!
While we sleep, our bodies take time to restore energy and rebuild tissue and cells. Lack of sleep can lead to dull skin due to a decrease in collagen production which is needed to give skin its firmness, elasticity and glow.
Poor sleep can lead to puffy bags and circles under your eyes and dryness and more visible wrinkles. This is because the body’s hydration rebalances while you are asleep so the skin is able to recover moisture, while any excess water is processed for removal. Not getting enough sleep means that there is poor water balance.
If you already suffer with breakouts, not getting enough sleep can actually make them worse. Lack of sleep leads to stress which leads to inflammation. An increased inflammatory response results in increased breakouts, skin sensitivity and skin irritation.
Finally during deep sleep, the rise in growth hormones allow damaged cells to become repaired and allows fresh new skin cells replace old dead skin. If you don’t get these deeper phases of sleep, this won’t occur. These daily small breakdowns will then accumulate and result in an acceleration of aging.
So make quality sleep (7 – 9 hours) a priority and your body, your mind, your skin and your soul with thank you!
Now that it’s summer it’s even more important to stay hydrated and there’s no better way of keeping thirst at bay than good ol’ water. But water isn’t just to avoid a dry mouth …. Here’s a few reasons why we need to drink water to get that healthy happy glow J
Maintains the balance of body fluids
Did you know that your body is made up of about 60% water? It’s so important to keep hydrated so that your bodily fluids can perform really important stuff including digestion, transportation of nutrients, circulation, muscle function and maintenance of body temperature. Water aids in ridding the body of toxins and bad bacteria, it keeps things flowing in your intestinal tract and kidneys thus helping things tick along internally.
Almost all processes in the body use water so when you are low on water, you’ll probably be low on energy too. If you are feeling that sluggish slump you may be tempted to reach for a caffeine boost but that cuppa cha or coffee may actually dehydrate you further. Water will hydrate you thus give your energy a boost too.
Prevents the blues
Water is needed for optimal functioning of the brain. Low levels of water can actually cause depression so if you are feeling the blues, have some water, it might just help lift your mood. Along with this, drinking water can alleviate brain fog resulting in clearer thinking and can also improve sleep which in turn can help keep the blues away! Just don’t drink too much too close to bedtime otherwise all those trips to the bathroom will defeat the purpose entirely.
I want unnecessary wrinkles and dried out skin said nobody in the world ever!!! Hydrated skin looks plumper, healthier and younger (who doesn’t want that?). Also drinking a glass of warm lemon water first thing in the morning has been shown to help reduce breakouts.
Say goodbye to Puffy
Bloating and puffiness can be caused by water retention. When the body is dehydrated, it compensates by retaining water. Reduce the bloat and drink some water. It might seem counter intuitive but it really does work!
Helps control weight
Sometimes what you think is hunger is actually thirst. I know that sometimes if I’m really craving food (especially something juicy) I’m probably a little dehydrated. If you are feeling these pangs try drinking a glass of water and waiting 20 minutes. If you were dehydrated rather than actually hungry the pangs will usually pass meaning that you don’t need to eat anything. Ta dah! You’ve just saved yourself some calories.
So water is an excellent way to get a healthy, happy, glow!!!