The Importance of Sleep and how to get enough

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How to get Your Beauty Sleep

Have you ever woken from a poor nights sleep to be confronted with visible dark circles under your eyes. A poor nights sleep is common for many of us, with 1 in 3 people suffering from poor or irregular sleep patterns.

Whilst a bad nights sleep will certainly show up on your skin, the damage to our health is far more concerning. Short term we can be left feeling heightened anxiety and poor focus, in the longer term chronic lack of sleep can lead to heart disease, reduced fertility, diabetes and is a factor for obesity.

 

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So all said and done. We know lack of sleep is bad for us, then what do we do if we really are suffering?

Below are some simple tips to ensure you give yourself the best chance of a restful nights slumber.

  • Stop worrying about not sleeping
  • Put down your phone and turn off your computer
  • Read a book
  • Take a warm bath
  • Drink herbal tea (decaffeinated)
  • Avoid day naps (as tempting as they may be!)
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat well

Stop worrying about not sleeping 

Why is this so important? Because the more you worry about not sleeping the more likely you are to stay awake. Imagine it is 10pm you are ready for bed, switch off the light. Except your mind is racing, this continues for a few hours. You become anxious that you still aren’t asleep. Before you know it the clock is 1.30am, you know you need to wake up at 6am, or even earlier if a baby starts crying, or the patter of little footsteps to wake you up.

The anxiety that this causes is palpable. Instead, don’t concern yourself with the time. Focus instead on your breath and try (as hard as it is) to keep your mind free of worries. You can deal with everything in the morning and you will be far more capable of doing so once you are rested. You will fall asleep eventually, just try to stop worrying that it won’t happen.

Put down your phone and turn off your computer

Blue light which is the light from our phones and computers is said to disrupt our circadian rhythms. Whilst it is tempting to scroll social media or respond to messages that have been sent, try to limit your exposure very close to bedtime. Turn off your phone and keep it away from you, even keep it downstairs or in a different room, particularly if you have gotten into the habit of checking it regularly. Really nothing is so important that it is worth disrupting a good nights sleep for.

Read a book

Immerse yourself into a good book, do this a while before bedtime. Whether it is 1 hour or 30 minutes taking the time to wind down and spend some time reading should really assist with relaxing you. Just make sure the book you choose is conducive to relaxation.

Take a warm bath

Relaxation is key to a good nights sleep. So run yourself a warm bath (not super hot!) with plenty of aromatic oils to relax you and soak away your worries. There is research that supports this with taking a bath 90 minutes before bedtime promoting sleep-fulness. Link to study here

Drink herbal tea (decaffeinated) 

Not all herbal teas are decaffeinated, so do make sure you are choosing a night time ‘sleep promoting’ tea. Teas which contain the root herb valerian can also promote sleep so choose the right tea. Also having it an hour or so before bed time will ensure that you aren’t staying awake to use the bathroom ahead of bedtime.

Avoid day naps (as tempting as they may be!)

This seems obvious, yet when you are really lacking sleep the temptation to take a little nap can be strong. If you are able to avoid this it will certainly lead to a better nights sleep later on. Instead take an early night if you are struggling to stay awake or if you really can’t keep your eyes open, set an alarm for 15 minutes and take a power nap instead.

Exercise regularly 

Research shows that regular exercise decreases insomnia. Aerobic exercise (that which raises your heartbeat and gets you sweating), releases endorphins which are feel good chemicals. Exercise vigorously during the day and give yourself enough time for the brain to wind down ahead of bedtime. Exercise also increases core temperature which signals to the body it is time to be awake, once the body is able to rest and recover post workout, then the core body temperature becomes cooler again which signals it is time for sleeping.

If aerobic exercise isn’t your thing or you feel like something more peaceful, why not try a yoga class. There are many classes available online. As yoga reduces stress which can additionally promote gut health, yoga is a wonderful way in which you can wind down. A survey found that over 55% of people who participated in yoga found that they had a better nights sleep.

 

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Eat Well

Nourish your body with a delicious meal with the right balance of carbohydrates, fibre and protein. A hearty asian noodle broth is a good choice. Equally, the addition of kiwi fruits has been known to aid sleep. Kiwis are rich in serotonin and antioxidants, both of which may improve sleep quality when eaten before bed. Link to study here 

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Above all else, try not to put any pressure on yourself.

You may be experiencing a period in life when things are particularly stressful. Make sure that you are managing your stress; take a yoga class, go for a walk, do a meditation. As temping as it is try not to over do the alcohol or junk food. Stressful situations can breed poor decisions, so being aware of how you are feeling and how you are managing stress rather than masking it.

Good Night and Sleep Tight!