Struggling to sleep?

Sleep is an essential part of our lives and is the best thing by far for our inner and outer health. Our Resident Naturopath, Sue, shares the importance of sleep and how we can all make sure we're getting our full eight hours!

Without a good nights sleep many of us simply fall to pieces. Brain fog is one of the many undesirable symptoms of poor sleep. Searching for the right word can become a real challenge making us fear we are losing the plot. Words for every-day items become lost in the abyss. ‘I need to change channels, please pass me the …… thing’.

Driving can be positively hazardous and downright dangerous if we are not fully alert. Emotions become heightened and even the slightest incident, normally brushed off, becomes a big deal. No wonder we are advised to sleep on big decisions and thank goodness we didn’t fire off that email last night. Come morning everything falls into place with our refreshed rationale minds.

So, given that we are a nation deprived of sleep what exactly can we do to improve matters? Sleep Hygiene is the term adopted by experts setting out the following number of practises that can enhance our sleep.

  • Go to bed at the same time every night including weekends. This keeps our wake/sleep cycles synchronised. 
  • Turn off all devices emitting blue light and do not keep anything on standby.

Research confirms that this type of light including street lighting is very disruptive to sleep patterns. Aim for a pitch black room using black-out blinds. Cool circulating air from a window left ajar is also very helpful.

  • Do not use your mobile phone as an alarm.

It is inadvisable to have your phone close to your head overnight and adds to your electro-smog load. Instead, try an old-fashioned wind up alarm clock or a natural light device that mimics sun-sets and sun-rises.

  • Each hour of sleep before midnight is worth two

Aim to be in bed at least two hours before midnight to enhance the quality of your sleep. Research backs this up stating that getting to sleep a good two hours before midnight sends us into deeper more restorative sleep.

  • Adopt a relaxing habit 10-15 minutes before you sleep

Reading is a good choice preferably something non-educational. Fiction or anything relaxing and calming is a good choice. Progressive muscle relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing, yoga and mindfulness or meditation are all fantastic tools for relaxing the body and allowing the mind to switch off.

  • Avoid caffeine after 2pm

Sensitive individuals may notice their sleep becomes interrupted if caffeine is taken too late in the day.

  • Write down any worries or concerns

Worrying thoughts circulating around and around your head at night is very common and a big disruptor of sleep. If you sleep better on holiday than at home then you know that stress is the problem. Writing down everything that is bothering you will help remove the continuing cycle of worrying through the night. A good night’s sleep will help you feel stronger to tackle any concerns in the morning. 

  • Have a bath before bed.

The cooling down mechanism after being warm triggers sleepiness.