Nourish - Top Tips for Naturally Improving Your Sleep
To feel so desperately tired, yet not be able to drift into the realm of blissful slumber is a feeling of utter frustration and exhaustion, am I right?
To hear your brain whirring thoughts around like a merry-go-round and listing to what feels like an ever-growing list of to-do’s for the following day or week can be sleep destroying.
Sleep is vitally important to your health. That’s why looking after yourself and getting your nightly sandman visit is vital for your:
- energy levels
- immune system
Waking up each morning desperately clinging to the duvet and begging for more sleep is not a ‘normal’ feeling to have after a nights sleep. You should not be feeling groggy, still half asleep and grappling towards the nearest coffee-filled mug.
The sign of really good nights sleep is when you feel revived, regenerated and ready to kick start the day!
Sleep requirements are pretty variable, but generally, everyone needs between seven to nine hours of good quality sleep a night for their brain and body to perform at its best.
During the night your brain cycles through different stages of sleep which determines the quality of your sleep. After about five to ten minutes in stage one, your brain moves into a deeper stage two. Over the next hour it goes to stages three and four, in which the electrical activity slows way down. After slow-wave sleep, your brain progresses into REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, in which it becomes a lot more active.
Your brain runs through all the sleep cycles sequentially roughly every 90 minutes, then starts over again at the beginning. Therefore, if you have constantly interrupted sleep and are unable to sleep right on through the night, your snooze is less restorative to your brain. You’ll feel it the next day even though the number of hours you slept may have been sufficient.
Here are 6 Tips to help you bag the best Sandman in town to help you get every precious wink of sleep you can:
No. 1 – Stop The Caffeine After Midday
Many people innocently chug down their 3rd coffee by 3pm, desperately trying to stay awake. They know how much more they have left to do at work or when they get home so they keep chugging it back.
But do you ever feel like that buzz is just lasting that bit too long?
Interestingly, caffeine can stay in your body from 8-14 hours still after consuming it. Therefore, if you’re knocking one back at 3pm, you could be in for a long night.
Many customers pop into our stores and are surprised to hear that their innocent cup of tea, their coffee, hot chocolate or cola is the culprit to their nights of tossing and turning. It’s not until they give it up do they realize the effect it’s having on their sleep.
But how does caffeine affect sleep you ask?
Caffeine plays around with your sleep/wake hormones and gets them all in a tizzy.
After sipping down your beverage of choice, the caffeine enters the bloodstream through the stomach and small intestine and starts to have a stimulating effect in as little as 15 minutes. Once in the body, the caffeine will persist for several hours and takes around 8 – 14 hours to be fully eliminated from your system.
Caffeine is a natural stimulant which acts as an “adenosine receptor antagonist.” Adenosine is a substance in your body that promotes sleepiness. Caffeine blocks this sleep-inducing adenosine receptor to keep you from feeling sleepy, whilst also increasing your adrenaline production.
Even if you are able to fall asleep with a caffeine buzz, caffeine disrupts your natural sleep cycle and can reduce the quality of your sleep.
Try swapping your usual caffeine fix to a caffeine-free alternative after midday. Try:
- Rooibos tea, a great alternative for those who are new to herbal teas.
- Or perhaps a delicious blend of herbs from the Pukka tea range for example. Personally, I love Pukka Revitalise, Pukka Three Mint or Pukka Elderberry and Echinacea.
- About an hour or so before you’re planning on hitting the hay, try sipping back a sweet and calming chamomile tea.
- Another option is to opt for sleep-inducing valerian tea to get you drifting off into slumberland.
- We even stock tea for helping you to nod off. Try Pukka Night time, Clipper Sleep Easy or Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime tea.
No. 2 – Turn Off Electrical Devices 1 Hour Before Bed
Perhaps you’re not a coffee drinker, but a notorious social media lover instead. I can’t deny, a good half hour can easily pass when you’re swiping away on your favourite Instagram accounts and watching what everyone are eating for Breakfast the other side of the world. Buckwheat pancakes with chia berry jam? Yup! That’s what I’m having tomorrow!
However, scrolling through your phone, watching TV or playing with electrical devices before sleep can seriously interrupt your sleeping patterns. In fact, it actually interrupts your sleep/wake hormones. The artificial blue light from televisions, computers, mobile phones and tablets suppresses the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Your body relies on these to determine the time of day. Therefore this suppression ends up making your body think it’s time to be active, instead of asleep.
It’s best to keep all electrical devices out of the bedroom for optimum sleep, including your T.V, laptops and phone. Use the bedroom for sleeping not surfing the net or checking your phone. If you use the space only for sleeping, your brain will associate it with sleep.
A good ole fashion alarm clock might be your best bet. But if you do want to use your phone as an alarm, try to keep your phone on silent, off vibrate and turned face-down on your bedside cabinet. That way you don’t get interrupted by messages/light during the night or when you’re trying to sleep. There’s something incredibly unsettling about knowing you have a message blinking at you and purposefully trying to ignore it! Trust me, it doesn’t help you ease into slumber!
Make sure all lights are out. Maybe try opting for an eye mask to help you, maybe even some earplugs if necessary. I am a big fan of both for total comatosed sleep.
No. 3 – Keep A Notepad By Your Bed
If your brain is very active at night, try writing your thoughts/ideas/to-do’s down on a pad of paper by the bed. Trying to sleep when all you can think about is how on earth you will remember to take your lunch out the fridge before work, or whether you’ll remember that fantastic book somebody recommended you pick up on your lunch break will impede your ability to relax and turn off.
Get it all scribbled down and allow yourself to turn off.
Stress if a big factor when it comes to not being able to sleep. That’s why writing a diary, or jotting down everything you feel you have to get done may just help release some of that urgency and brain-racking.
No. 4 – Try Sleep Inducing, Calming Supplements
Sometimes we all need a bit more support when it comes to relaxing. It’s all very easy to say “just relaaax! Stop worrying, take it easy”, but in reality, we all could do with a little help sometimes.
There’s a variety of natural supplements that may aid your ability to sleep. Some are simply natural narcotics; others help the body and the mind to naturally relax.
- Try New Nordic Melissa Dream for example. A brilliant combination of all-natural ingredients including lemon balm and chamomile in combination with selected B-vitamins, Magnesium. Plus, the lovely amino acid L-theanine to induce a state of calm and relaxation.
- Another popular supplement is the well-known herb Valerian. Tinctures are generally thought to be more beneficial and fast-acting as they get into your blood system so much faster. Taken 30-40 minutes before sleep, this herb helps to bring the body into a state of rest and prepare for a decent sleep.
If you’re somebody who wakes up in the middle of the night and cannot get back to sleep, you can also take it then too, to help you get back into snooze-ville.
- A personal favourite of mine is Magnesium. You may have heard of people taking Epsom salt baths to ease and relax the muscles. Well, that’s just a magnesium bath!
Magnesium is simply amazing. It’s an essential mineral in the body used in over 300 reactions on a daily basis. Magnesium is responsible for helping the body transition into a restful state, helping the body to minimize our response to stressful stimuli and get rid of excess tension.
It’s absorbed amazingly through the skin, so baths or sprays are my preferred method. However, liquid formulas or tablets work too.
Simply soak/spray or swallow your chosen method and let your body do the work.
No. 5 – Exercise
Some people find their minds are so busy and their bodies are so tense that they simply feel too twitchy and fidgety to sleep.
I love to take a good 20-30 minutes each evening to just streeeetch it out. You can choose simple stretches or whip out that yoga mat you’ve got stuffed in the back of the cupboard. Hop on Youtube and check out a few yoga moves that you may find beneficial.
Not only does it help me to clear my mind before hitting the sack, but it gets my muscles free from the twitchiness and tension of a long day at work or on my feet.
Some people find a gym session, team sport, yoga or Pilates class during the day tires them out well and truly. That way, once their workday is done and the dinner has been engulfed, sleep is but a beautiful indefinite.
There are some people that find exercising too close to bedtime can rev them up too much and keep them awake. In that case, it’s best to avoid vigorous exercise in the evening and do this preferably in the morning or late afternoon. A relaxing exercise, like yoga, can be done before bed no problem.
Even better if you can, try exercising out in the sunshine during your day. This will help boost your serotonin levels, a neurochemical which improves melatonin release at night. Again, this allows your brain to prepare for optimum sleep.
No. 6 – Get Yourself An Evening Ritual
The body’s natural sleep cycle responds very well to routines. An evening wind-down routine will not only help you to fall asleep, but will also help you to stay asleep.
Maybe start dimming the lights an hour or two before bed. Brush your teeth, take a bath and switch from the T.V to a good book. These work wonders. Perhaps try a few drops of lavender essential oil on your pillow, or try burning it in an oil burner an hour before sleep to get your brain into snooze mood.
Going to bed at the same time every night is also beneficial. This will trigger deep sleep much more often than when trying to maintain an erratic changing schedule.
Getting yourself into a pattern can be really useful for some people and makes it easier for the body to keep up.
I also like to listen to online meditations such as Yoga Nidra before bed. This is an excellent way to calm the mind and body before you head off to slumberland.
One thing to note
If you can’t fall asleep within fifteen minutes, the answer is not to keep trying. Don’t force yourself to stay in bed, because the wait will only cause frustration and unwanted stress. Instead, hop out of bed and do some light activity. Getting your mind off sleep resets and reboots your system. Try a light yoga, meditation, or delving into a book. Don’t do anything too stimulating as this will only keep you more awake.
Any questions? Drop into your local Nourish store to chat with our expert team and explore our full range of foods, supplements and skincare. You can also find our full product range in our online store.
*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention
Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication