I am by no means an expert on sleep, but I do understand the value of rest in order to feel better and live well! It is such a huge part of developing an all round holistic approach to health. I NEED my sleep, I always have done. And i love it! I have never been one of these people that can have 3 hours of sleep and somehow continue as normal, (this way of living may work for a short period of time but I can't imagine it is sustainable for anyone out there). We put so much thought and effort into what we eat in order to live a healthier life, what sport and exercise we can do to get the body we want, so why would we not spend the time and effort to do what we can to in order to get the best night's sleep possible? They say we spend around 1/3 of our life asleep, and the benefits of sleep include more energy, sharper focus, increased memory, better moods, avoiding weight gain, less stress, stronger immunity and it reduces the signs of ageing.
The problem is, there are so many theories out there (as with everything) when it comes to this topic. I've been reading up about all the nerdy stuff behind sleep, with the different hormone releases and what helps and what hinders sleep and I have been trying a few things out. I am learning what really works for me, so I thought I would share them with you all. As always I think it's best to really learn to listen to your body and see what is best for you, but maybe some of these points will help.
1. Change your mindset: This is always number one, my first challenge was changing the way I view my sleep. Placing value on it and recognising it as a really important part of health. Not just the thing we HAVE to do, we GET to sleep so our body can regenerate and recharge. While our minds are switched off, our bodies are working hard so that when we wake up, we can continue living life to full... realising the importance of sleep is super important.
2.Switch off: This is massive for me. If I am working late into the night I need an hour away from my computer, away from the internet, away from emails and my phone and my todo lists. The light from our devices is deigned to stimulate our brains, naturally waking us up. Surfing the net is filling our minds with unnecessary information, plus time disappears and suddenly we are getting a lot less sleep than we planned. Taking this time away from the world of work allows your mind to mentally prepare for a deep sleep.
3. Eat right, sleep tight: It makes sense not to eat a big heavy meal before you go to bed, but going to sleep hungry also doesn't work. I try and eat at least two hours before I go to sleep, but obviously there are some days where this just isn't an option. So in this case choosing wisely is our best bet. Foods that are high in starch and sugars will hinder the release of your growth hormone if eaten within 90 minutes of going to bed. This hormone is what renews us for the next day so we want to help, not hinder it. I've found protein rich foods work for me, and there is science to back this up... Lentil soups, almond butter, hummus, things that are easily digestible and don't put the body under any stress. This way it can focus on rebuilding you! And lots of hydrating liquids throughout the day... not just before you go to sleep.
4. Avoid the Quick Fix: We have become dependant on the short term, quick fix, need it now solutions. This is what caffeine and other sugary 'energy' snacks do for us when we need an energy kick. But ultimately these are only short term solutions and they actually leave us feeling more fatigued. I try and get my energy from the food I eat and my lifestyle. If we consume too much caffeine, we raise the amount the cortisol released in our systems (better known as the stress hormone) which will get us moving in the short term but isn't best for you in the long run. It puts your body under stress, lowering your immune system and exhausting your body. I love the smell of coffee and do enjoy it from time to time but I don't think that should be our main energy source.
5. Keep it natural: I love herbal (almost) everything, Lavender is probably the most famous for helping your body to relax, in the bath, in a tea or on your pillow.Having a routine before you go to sleep helps to prepare your body. I also love lighting candles that smell nice. This leads onto my next point...
6. Stress Less: Easier said than done right? But this is massive when it comes to getting a good nights rest. The best thing for me when it comes to stressing less, especially at the end of the day, is take a moment to breathe, think through the day, and be grateful. It sounds so simple but an attitude of gratitude can really work wonders. It allows you to focus on all the good rather than all the bad, your worries and anxieties. Tomorrow will come and you can face those challeneges then. But for now, focus on what is good. Lower the lights in your bedroom, this increases the amount of melatonin your body produces, preparing your body for sleep, and actively engage your mind in positive thinking. Learn to wind down and focus on the beautiful and good things in your world.
These are just a few things that I find help me. Of course I don't manage this every night, but I am starting to try and build some disciplines around my sleep routine. I have found that with starting a business, there is always some work you could be doing, something that could cause stress, something that is challenging, so I have to discipline myself with this more than I would like to admit. But it really making a difference in my world, even if it's just 2 nights a week... Hope you all have a restful week, no matter how full or busy it is! Learn to live from rest, that's my goal!
Happy Monday xxx