13 Ways to improve your sleep quality

13 Ways to improve your sleep quality

So, I am sleep deprived and feel the impact it has on me: from my mood, how I handle stress, focus, energy and body weight …. and I LOVE my sleep. But it’s not that I’ve become I’m a bad sleeper, it’s because we have 17 month old twins, who are still not yet sleeping through the night  I’m still hopeful it will be some day soon

The below tips are suitable whether you or haven’t children, so enjoy your zzzzz’s……

Ways to improve your sleep without medication

Eat a healthy well-balanced diet…
-Eat a colourful array of fruits and vegetables daily
-Avoid processed foods, and drinks
-Drink 2 litres of filtered water daily
-Avoid sugar and sugary foods, excess sugar will cause blood sugar fluctuations which can cause insomnia, frequent waking, poor sleep quality etc..

Avoid stimulants that may interfere with your body clock
– Do not watch television, look at your phone, tablet, computer etc. for at least 1 to 2 hours before bedtime
– Turn your phone off / on airplane mode when you’re sleeping (3)

Take a bath or shower before bed
-This will have a soothing effect and helps to relax your muscles before you sleep.
– The rise and fall in body temperature induces sleepiness and helps you to have a more restful sleep
– Bathe 2 – 3 times a week is great, adding 1 – 2 cups of Epsom salts or Magnesium Flakes to a hot bath, promotes a more restful sleep, the magnesium content also can ease muscle aches, headaches & period pains (2)
A foot soak will help too if you don’t have time for a bath

Make your bedroom your sleep sanctuary
-Change your bed clothes often
-Keep your bedroom clean and free of clutter

Sleep in complete darkness (3)
-Even the smallest amount of light can have a negative impact on your sleep quality, by interrupting your circadian rhythm
-Turn off all electronic and light emitting devices in your room

Get outside daily (1)
-Walking, jogging, yoga or doing any form of exercise everyday boosts your fitness, reduces body fat, gives you some ‘me’ time and in the summer give you some wonderful vitamin D
-The exposure to natural light on a daily basis helps to regulate your body’s sleep cycles and will allow you to fall into a deeper sleep at night.

Read a book before bed
-Engages and focuses the mind
-Allows you to get into a relaxed state before sleep and empty your mind of thought, allowing you to drift off peacefully when you finish.

Limit or avoid caffeine, chocolate and alcohol
-Consuming alcohol, chocolate and caffeinated drinks (tea, coffee, sodas, energy drinks) can all lead to sleep problems like insomnia and reduce your sleep quality.
– Drink organic decaf teas or coffees (clipper), herbal teas.
– Dark chocolate is lower is sugar but higher in a stimulant called xanthine which caffeine & theobromine are derived from.
– Alcohol reduces REM sleep and can leave you feeling tired the next morning, even a glass of wine can have a negative effect.

Have a warm drink before bed
– A caffeine free herbal tea can be soothing before bed. Pukka ‘Nighttime’ is nice, try a homemade turmeric latte, or a cup of hot almond milk with raw cacao powder and some banana (like a warm smoothie) is high in tryptophan which promotes serotonin production.

Increase your Zinc and Magnesium intake (2)
-Studies have shown that both can improve your sleep quality. Add nuts and seeds to your daily food intake, such as brazil nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, sesame, pumpkin, linseeds, and chia are all good sources.

Give yourself enough time to sleep
Create time to sleep and stick to it routinely
Aim for 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, this might mean going to bed 2 hours before you fall asleep, it will get better
Deep sleep between 12pm and 4am is vital for your health– so as an absolute minimum be asleep well before midnight

Aim to get up at the same time daily
-Even if you didn’t get a full 7-8 hours the night before
-Retraining your body to restore your natural circadian rhythm is important, if you sleep through the morning this cannot be corrected

Make a ‘To Do’ list or write a journal
If your mind wanders or you worry about things you need to do, make a ‘To do’ list or journal your thoughts before attempting to go to sleep
Writing a list or journal, should help you to put your thoughts to one side and promote a more restful mind

Bedtime yoga or stretch it out (5)
-In addition to daily exercise, yoga before bed helps you to relax your entire body and your mind
-Try “yoga with Adrienne” on YouTube Bedtime yoga – 20 minutes sleepy time
-Or at least do some yoga stretches to promote better sleep

Meditate – it’s not just for “hippies”! (4)
-Mediation is a wonderful way to reconnect with your body and mind, let go of the day and relax into sleep
-You may use your phone at night for mediation briefly if you prefer to be guided through your mediation.
-Find guided mediation that suits you, not everyone likes the same voice/tone so be sure you enjoy it. I like “the honest guys” available on YouTube. Or for just music try Jason Stephenson.
Apps: Calm, Headspace, Buddhify.
Sources Used:
http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=412611 2. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1532-5415.2010.03232.x/abstract?userIsAuthenticated=false&deniedAccessCustomisedMessage
http://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.1000125 4. http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/data/Journals/INTEMED/933657/ioi140149.pdf?v=635635200985970000 5. http://search.proquest.com/openview/5bfa925fae8c28b687e6f2e8a2c64772/1?pq-origsite=gscholar  by Oonagh Peters 2016, adapted 2018.

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