How do you know if you are getting enough sleep? Ask yourself these questions:
Do you struggle to fall asleep? Do
you wake during the night and find it difficult to get back to sleep? Do you
feel exhausted just after getting up? Or do you lose sleep about not getting
If you answered yes, chances are you are not getting enough quality sleep and are likely to be sleep deprived.
Why is Sleep so Important?
Sleep is instrumental to our overall physical and emotional wellbeing: It’s fundamental for our brain developments, decision- making, stress resilience, and muscle recovery. Without adequate quality sleep, you may find it hard to concentrate, making judgments, and take part in daily activities. Sleep deprivation can also lead to weight gain, affect our hormones, and weaken our immune system.
Generally speaking, you are advised to sleep for 7-9 hours each night, although sometimes this isn’t always possible.
If you are someone that struggles sleeping here are 6 tested and proven steps to helping ensure a better nights sleep.
1. Get Some Morning Sunshine
Exposure to morning sunlight, is critical for quality sleep as it helps to set your body clock. Even on the dullest day you will still be exposed to more light outside than inside. Getting fresh air, is a great way to get your brain switched on and ready for the day ahead. Try having your breakfast outside, or going for a quick power walk.
2. Create A Bedtime Routine
It is so important to have time to unwind and relax before sleeping. A hot bubble bath (with magnesium salts - natures natural relaxe ), a warming herbal tea, or reading a book are all great ways to help you unwind. Having a regular bed and wake up time can help the bodies internal clock. Aiming to go wind down around 10pm when melotonin ( our sleep hormone) begins to rise. This will help you to get an optimum nights sleep.
3. Eat Foods That Support Your Sleep
Melatonin, our sleep hormone is synthesised from serotonin (our happy hormone) which itself is derived from an amino acid called tryptophan. Therefore, consuming Tryptophan rich foods such as: poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, nuts & seeds, bananas & oats can be helpful in promoting sleep. Magnesium helps to relax your muscles and keep your stress hormone cortisol in check. All green vegetables. Almonds, avocado, tofu, nuts & seeds are good sources.A good night time snack would be a banana & coconut smoothie ( 1 banana, 1/2 cup coconut milk, spinach, 1/4 cup oats, 1 tbsp almond butter) Let me know if you try it, its my favourite.
4. Reduce Caffeine
This can be a vicious cycle. You are tired because you didn’t sleep, so you rely on coffee to keep you going through the day, which then can impact your sleep.
Caffeine has a half-life of 6 hours (which means the caffeine is still in your system after 6 hours) and a quarter after 12 hours. Although caffeine does not affect us all equally, if you have trouble sleeping, consider switching your cups of coffee to decaf after 12pm. Remember it isn’t just coffee that contains caffeine, green tea and chocolate do too.
The same goes for alcohol, although it can make you feel sleepy, it actually acts as a stimulant. Try avoiding alcohol consumption at least 3 hours before going to bed, and reduce your intake throughout the week.
5. Step Electronic Devices in The Evening
I know many of us feel as though we are relaxing playing on our phone or watching TV, but electrical devise emits blue light, which can mimic the effect of the morning sun on the brain. If you are looking at these later at night, it tells your brain to stay awake and can disrupt the production and secretion of melatonin. You could look into investing in blue light supressing glasses or switching your phone to night time mode.
6. Balance Blood Sugars
Sleep is crucial for balancing blood sugar levels and helping to balance
hormones. Make sure you you are eating nutrient dense foods consistently throughout the
day including a balance of protein, fats and carbohydrates. Eating a protein
rich snack before bed such as banana smoothie, oatcakes
+ nut butter or a coconut chai latte.
Sleep deprivation leads to a vicious cycle of excess stress hormones, which then reduces sleep inducing melatonin. The HPA ( Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal) is a key part in helping to regulate our circadian rhythm needed for a quality night’s sleep. When we are over stimulated, stressed, or worried, our bodies release the stress hormone cortisol, further exacerbating sleeping troubles. Often people then get stressed about not being able to sleep, intensifying feelings of anxiety and depression.
If this resonates with you, and you are struggling to get a good nights sleep, there may be deeper issues we need to explore. Please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or book in for a free 15 minute chat on my website.