My word for this year is health and one of the ways I have been focusing on that is by looking at my sleep hygiene.
Did you know?
The average person sleeps for 8 hours in a day, that's 229,961 hours in a lifetime, which is basically a third of your life!
So if we’re spending that much time doing something (or should be!), then it’s important to understand why, how we can improve the quality and ensure we get enough of it.
To improve your sleep quality and fall asleep faster, learn my three tips and what I’ve been doing here.
So why is sleep important?
Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life.
Heart and circulatory system
When you fall asleep and enter non-REM sleep, your blood pressure and heart rate fall. During sleep, your parasympathetic system controls your body, and your heart does not work as hard as it does when you are awake.
People who do not sleep enough or wake up often during the night may have a higher risk of:
Coronary heart disease
High blood pressure
Hormones and sleep
Your body makes different hormones throughout your day. This may be related to your sleep pattern or your circadian clock. In the morning, your body releases hormones that promote alertness, such as cortisol.
Metabolism and sleep
The way your body handles fat varies according to various circadian clocks, including those in the liver, fat, and muscle. For example, the circadian clocks make sure that your liver is prepared to help digest fats at appropriate times.
Respiratory and immune systems
Sleep affects different parts of your immune system, which become more active at different times of the day. For example, when you sleep, a particular type of immune cell works harder. That is why people who do not sleep enough may be more likely to get colds and other infections.
Problems with thinking and memory
Sleep helps with learning and the formation of long-term memories. Not getting enough sleep or enough high-quality sleep can lead to problems focusing on tasks and thinking clearly.
Learn more about the effects of sleep on your health here.
Do you struggle with falling or staying asleep?
It usually takes me a few hours to fall asleep and because I’m a light sleeper, I wake up to any little noise or snoring…
So now that I’ve nailed my morning routine, it is time to think about my evening routine and how I can sleep better.
My top three tips for getting better quality sleep and falling asleep faster:
Consistent bedtime and waketime
First and foremost, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day (including weekends!). Perhaps an obvious one, but the temptation to stay up later and sleep in later changes your circadian rhythm (biological body clock). Every day your body thrives on a routine, eating, sleeping, you name it - I know this may not be possible for everyone due to jobs and lifestyle differences.
I admit I haven’t managed to get up at the same time on the weekends yet, but something I'm working towards.
If you struggle with that snooze button, I highly recommend checking out Mel Robbin's '5 Second Rule', where you basically count down from 5 and then do the action, in this case, getting out of bed. I recommended watching her TedTalk about it here.
An hour and a half before bed, starting with my phone - I set up my morning alarm and put it on charge and Do Not Disturb. The urge to check it is high, but my willpower is currently winning. I recommend charging your phone overnight on the other side of the room if the temptation is too much. Try to reduce your blue light intake if you can - it will help you fall asleep quicker.
Next, I brush my teeth and do my skincare routine, wash, serums and moisturise. Sometimes this includes face yoga if I have enough energy.
Then, I put some relaxing music, specifically this Spotify playlist. While I begin to relax, I always make a hot water bottle, light a lavender-scented candle and put extra blankets on my bed. Before sliding into bed, I put my Himalayan salt lamp on and get out my current read.
At the time of writing, I’m currently reading The Christmas Murder Game by Alexandra Benedict. 8/10 so far!
If I don’t fancy reading, I sometimes draw (doodle), do some macrame or listen to an audiobook.
Before sleeping, I spray my pillow with this from Neals Yard Remedies and I highly recommend it. I’ve been using it for years and am only on my second bottle of it.
Then, if I’m on time, an hour and a half later, I switch off my bedside lights, blow out my candle and kiss my honey goodnight. It’s now, on average, taking me 15-30 minutes to fall asleep.
Disclaimer: please note, your routine needs to suit your needs and lifestyle, so find out what relaxes you 🙂
Let’s talk liquids
If I drink too close to my bedtime, I am sure to wake up in the night, stumble my way to the bathroom and then drink water when I get back into bed, it’s a vicious cycle. So I stop drinking two hours before bed to improve my sleep quality.
I don’t drink coffee anymore, but I stopped drinking (caffeinated) tea at 3 pm - I’ve genuinely noticed a huge difference.
So in the last couple of months, my sleep has improved drastically, and I feel I have more energy. If any of my tips inspire or help you, please let me know and help me share the word by sending this blog to your family and friends.
Unwind on Thursday evenings and join us in a yoga class that feels like a heart-felt hug while taking a nap on a cloud. We start with some breath work and some poetry, then we do some gentle yoga movements with a bit of neuroscience. We finish with some face yoga and meditation. Once a month, we enjoy the most delicious Yoga Nidra, which is scientifically proven to improve your sleep. Take A Breath & Relax is suitable for all levels and included in both memberships. Try a two-week free trial today, sleep better and feel good.