Sleeping Beauty had it worked out.
We all know it but not all of us are game to admit it- no amount of coffee or concealer will make up for a restless night. Sleep is one of those wonderful things in life that is free, makes us look and feel good, and can be as easy as closing your eyes. However, for some of us (my dear hubby included) sleep isn’t all that easy! We have busy schedules, parental demands (fur babies included), and health problems that can interfere with our rest patterns. If you aren’t performing your best throughout the day, perhaps feeling a little stressed, and tend to wake up a tired then there might be something that’s disturbing you from reaching deep sleep. Deep sleep allows our bodies and breath to slow down and relax, increases blood supply to our relaxed muscles, grows and repairs our tissue, releases growth hormones, and helps to restore our energy. While the literature on how much pillow time our heads require varies, it is generally recognised around 8 or so hours is beneficial (however this changes by age, occupation, source of info etc.).
Shuteye done right.
The reason why some people aren’t getting as much sleep as they would like to can be varied and extend past lifestyle. We may know that staying up late, sleeping in, having kids, working too much, buying a puppy, moonlight Pokemon Go expeditions, and watching too many series on Netflix all contribute to under-eye bags and a lack of focus throughout the day. However many of us aren’t aware that our fatigue, inability to concentrate, short temper and coffee addictions might be due to less obvious sleep conditions. These can be related to our weight or body make-up (such as obstructive sleep apnea), the position we sleep in (upper airway resistance syndrome), our computer screens (throwing out our circadian rhythms), stress, depression and/or anxiety, and even allergies or air pollutants. And while we might readily shun sleep as ‘not that important’ without it we can be prone to heart attacks, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, depression, and general poor performance/exhaustion. It’s pretty scary that something as seemingly simple as going to sleep can have such huge ramifications if we struggle with it either consciously or sub consciously.
Improving your night.
The first place to start if you aren’t getting a good nights sleep is your GP. They should be able to ask you the right questions to get to the source of the issue, and if not, you will be sent for sleep tests (they aren’t too scary I promise). You will be directed as to what will be the most suitable options for your sleep issues. However there are loads of ways that you can improve the quality of your sleep right now and they can be as simple as the flick of a light switch.
- Air your bedding regularly: Dust and allergens can get trapped in your bedding pretty quickly (especially if you have kids or pets running in and out all day). Air quilts and pillows often and try to place them in the sun to maximise the process.
- Wash often if desired: If you have noticed that your sleep issues seem to be associated with dust, doggy dander or other allergens choose to wash often and use a low allergy detergent (you could try soap nuts). Remember that laundering processes use water and energy so wash wisely.
- Remove distractions from your bedroom: Having a cluttered, dirty, or entertainment filled bedroom can make it hard to sleep. Keep things tidy and remove the excess. If you live in a share house and ‘live’ in your room try to keep partitions up, or use dividers to separate your study or entertainment space from your bed. Your brain should associate your bed with rest not assignments.
- Buy quality bedding that you want to sleep in: By cladding your bed in delicious bedding that you actually want to spend time in then you will find yourself enjoying the experience of sleep a whole lot more. Check out Ettitude for some organic loveliness.
- Dress for comfort: Yes your Pikachu onesie might be comfy for the couch and completely on-trend for late night Pokemon Go neighbourhood adventures but if it’s creeping up while you try to sleep and keeping you awake ditch it for something more comfy try out Noctu (shown at top and bottom of post) for sleepwear so good you will want to be seen in it in public (why yes, I always look so chic in my PJ’s chasing Pokemon).
- Try an air filter in your bedroom: Again, not an eco-friendly suggestion (unless you have renewable energy) but unfortunately there are so many pollutants around that sometimes there is no getting past them. It’s better to invest in an air filter and get a good nights sleep and get up and ride your bike to work than it is to go sans-filter, sleep in, feel crap, and drive an SUV instead. Invest in looking after yourself so you can better look after others and the planet.
- Try grounding and relaxation techniques: Instead of stimulating your brain with social media or TV before bed try meditating, having a bath or shower, or standing outside barefoot on the ground and looking up at the stars. This ‘wind down’ approach to heading to bed has your brain working a bit slower before you put it on the pillow. Will save the half an hour of freaking out in bed as you watch the clock tick over and sleep seems far away.
- Be light aware: We are naturally designed to slow down when the sun sets. When we watch television, use devices, or work all night under bright lights we are giving ourselves a dose of artificial ‘daylight’ which tells our brains to stay awake and alert. If you use devices at night you can install a filter like f.lux or use the night mode option on your i-Phone. Be light smart and start switching them off early or using lamps to create an ‘evening’ mood in your home. Candles are a nice way to create mood lightning (pic above from Natural Light Candle Co).