Easy Ways To Help You Sleep
Are you finding it takes you a while to get off to sleep, even though you feel shattered? Do you wake up the next day feeling like you’ve hardly slept?
This lack of decent sleep tends to lead to bad moods, irritability, headaches, over reactive behaviour, food cravings, increase in blood pressure, feelings of stress and overall general feelings of crapiness….
My experience working in the film and event industry, both notorious for their antisocial, long working hours, wreaked havoc on my sleep and my digestive system. After a project I would feel completely wiped out and always fell ill with a cold or stomach upset. Signs that my immune system was suffering.
Anyway, I chose to ignore these and several other signs for decades and I ended up with facing a cancer diagnosis.
But it’s not easy to get to sleep!?
I know we live in an environment of ‘doing’ – full of high activity and responsibilities with never ending to do lists… busyness equates with ‘success’….but I ask you to challenge that attitude…that hang over belief from the last century ; ‘Sleep is for losers’. In fact, sleep will help you win your life and your health back!
So I can’t stress enough how important sleep is to good health! And there’s a great deal of scientific research to support our need for it.
But why do we need to sleep at all?
It’s already known that sleep allows our bodies time to repair and renew cells, but there are several additional theories. The most supported one being that while we sleep a “drainage system” takes place similar to our lymph vessels that drain waste products from our body’s tissues. When we sleep another system in the brain kicks in and gives it a spring clean removing all the toxins built up throughout the day!
Another recent discovery reported in the New Scientist, by the Centre for Sleep and Consciousness, USA, reveals that sleep helps us becoming overloaded with new memories, by consolidating new memories. When awake, our memories are recorded by reinforcing connections between brain cells. While we sleep, these new connections are weakened to ensure we have enough capacity to form memories the next day. This could be why if you have a bad night’s sleep, you find it harder to concentrate and learn new info the next day; you have less capacity to learn.
Too little sleep can also result in screwing up your metabolism and lead to in weight gain! Chronic sleep deprivation can increase feelings of hunger and effects the way your body processes and stores carbohydrate.
So aside from keeping your body clock happy and supplying downtime to repair your body, sleep gives the brain time to digest new info and give itself a spring clean – now can you see why sleep is so important for you?
Easy Ways To Help You Sleep
Basically good sleep is dependent upon 3 things: Preparation – creating good sleeping habits including your diet; the environment where you sleep and the right timing.
The best way you can help yourself get better, more restorative sleep is to create some better habits.
Here is part 1 of a 2 part blog to show you some easy things you can do to improve your sleep and so your health as of now!
Today we start with Preparation to help you create good sleeping habits as easy ways to help you sleep!
- Improve your evening ritual.
Ensure you don’t go to bed hungry otherwise the drop in blood sugar will wake up in the early hours. Also don’t eat a heavy meal high in carbs and protein late at night as your body won’t be able to rest fully. Allow at least 2 hours after a meal before going to bed to give your body time to digest.
OK so we all like a glass of wine or 2 in the evening to wind down and alcohol is a relaxant BUT it interrupts your sleep pattern. It creates restlessness, preventing you from entering deep sleep. It also blocks adenosine receptors, so preventing the release of our happy and chill out hormones and neurotransmitters.
This interferes with your phases of sleep, reducing the capacity for REM sleep and dreaming. Many of us are far more sensitive to caffeine than we think. Oh I know some people who can knock back an espresso to finish off restaurant dinner AND SLEEP! But that’s not the case for many. The half-life of caffeine in the body is about 5 hours (this can vary from 1.5 – 9.5 hours!)
So 50% of the caffeine you have at 3 pm will still be in your system at 9 pm! So avoid it in the afternoon if you want a decent night’s sleep.
Try and introduce some caffeine free drinks such as herbal teas. Pukka teas do a wide range of interesting flavours. Or, as I’ve just discovered, try turmeric tea – which isn’t tea at all but turmeric, cinnamon, ginger and hot almond milk – took me a while to try it as I didn’t think it would be that good… I was wrong 🙂
- Reduce gadget screen time.
OK – my hand’s up! I’ve recently been guilty of breaking my good habits by watching a few ‘guilty pleasure’ programmes on my iPad in bed…or even ‘popping’ over to Facebook. Not only does it encourage me to stay up late until the end of the programme, but the blue light pads, mobiles and laptops emanate switches on the brain’s suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) located in the hypothalamus.
This is the clock element that controls our 24 hour rhythm. Bright light late at night can confuse the brain into thinking it is 2pm when it is 2am. So, even if sleep occurs, it will not be as deep and therefore less restorative.
Now I know you may be thinking turning off your gadgets at least 1-2 hours before bedtime could be impractical but it could be a habit to create that could result in you feeling SO much better!
How’s about listening to a radio drama or reading a book – no not an electronic kindle…the old fashioned paper version 🙂 …you may even find it more engaging than a TV drama… I’ve definitely noticed an increase in my sleep quality and my morning ‘get up and go’ feeling since I stopped this habit.
- Get a sleep routine
A healthy sleep routine is important! You can’t expect your body and brain to carry you through the day, usually at break neck speed and then suddenly, just because you get horizontal in bed, to be able to suddenly switch off and relax! You need to start winding down long before your head hits that pillow.
Cutting back on the screen time, curling up with a book, listening to the radio, introducing a hot bath with relaxing bath oils such as lavender or Epsom salts, changing eating and drinking habits…all these easy ways to help you sleep, are little things that will help your body to slow down naturally and prepare you for a good night’s sleep.
By regularly following any of these to increase the quality of your sleep, you’ll be giving yourself some well deserved attention and self love. You’ll see reductions in the feelings of stress, irritability, food cravings, and general fatigue.
Below is the turmeric tea recipe I used, with my adaptations…thanks to Wellness Mama. I think you’ll be surprised at how tasty and comforting it is…I was!
I’ll return next week with some further tips. Meanwhile I cover some additional ways to increase your health and happiness in my free giveaway….go get it!
Turmeric Tea Golden Milk Recipe
Prep time 10 mins
Total time 10 mins
- 1 cup of milk or homemade coconut milk- (I use almond milk)
- 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric- ( after a while i doubled this!)
- 1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon- (I use Sri Lankan cinnamon which is kinder to your body, as it has less coumarin than cassia cinnamon and after a while I doubled this amount).
- 1/2 teaspoon raw honey or maple syrup or to taste – (check that your milk isn’t sweet enough already!)
- Pinch of black pepper (increases absorption)
- Tiny piece of fresh, peeled ginger root or 1/8 tsp ginger powder
- Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional) – (I’ve not tried this yet?!)
- Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth.
- Pour into a small sauce pan and heat for 3-5 minutes over medium heat until hot but not boiling.
- Drink immediately
Do you have issues trying to sleep or have found easy ways to help you sleep that work for you? Please do share them below!