Good sleep hygiene

One thing I often talk about with people who have trouble sleeping is ensuring you have good sleep hygiene - or in other words, a really good routine to get yourself ready for a restful night's sleep. This may sound like I am being a little pedantic but it can make the world of difference to a good nights sleep.

A lot of us find there are not enough hours in the day to get things done, so we work, study or socialise right up until its almost time for us to go to sleep. Have you ever been so tired when you are trying to do that last bit of work or reply to one last email and then to go to bed and find you can't fall asleep? We really need to give ourselves some time before going to bed, even half an hour, where we have a break from things to try and switch off.

Speaking of switching things off, we also need to have some time apart from our mobile phones. We all want to know what is happening in our world, what our friends are doing, or just to look up one more thing – but to keep being stimulated right up until the time we try to go to sleep isn't a good thing. Again we need to aim for half an hour of time where we aren't stimulated (no TV, laptop, iPad, etc) and we should keep our phones away from our bedside table – they can be a huge distraction if we wake in the night, or hear messages come in. In a previous corporate role I worked with people on all different time zones, there was never a time of the day when someone wasn't working, so I would often check my phone to see if any issues had been resolved (or had come up) - not a good habit. I would joke that it was the third person in my marriage, not that funny really ... Once I really realised how bad this was for me I left my mobile out of the bedroom and it really did work wonders to helping me get a good nights sleep.

Its also important to create a restful, calm environment for sleep – this can be a simple as having the room dark and a comfy bed to snuggle up in, with the temperature not too hot and not too cold (I may sound like Goldilocks but a stuffy room can be worse than a cold one). I'm a big believer in not having any TVs in the bedroom as well - to ensure we are in the right mind space for rest the bedroom should be designed for that.

Other tools I like to suggest include:

  • Aromatherapy is perfect and so easy to use to help you get relaxed and ready for sleep - even placing some lavender near your bed, or having a sleep spray to spritz onto your pillow is enough to help get your mind ready to relax and go to sleep

  • A nice warm bath to help melt away the stresses of the day could be on the cards - and even if it means occasionally sipping on a nice glass of red whilst lying in there then that's fine too in my eyes

  • Too much alcohol though can have the opposite effect and can keep you awake - so not only for your health sake but also in the aim of good sleep lets limit the alcohol in quantities and days enjoyed. Instead how about a cup of chamomile tea? I must say if I have too much liquid before bed it does wake me up in the middle of the night - so maybe this isn't for everyone, so see how you go, even a small cup can work a treat

  • And while we are talking about beverages we need to cover caffeine - some people are very sensitive to caffeine, try and limit your consumption of caffeine containing drinks (tea and coffee) and foods (yes, I'm talking about you beloved chocolate) - especially after 3pm of a day. This may be earlier for you - this is where you need to see what works best for you and your body

  • We need to regulate our bodies circadian rhythm - going to bed at the same time each night and waking at the same time each day helps get our body into a rhythm - I know this isn't always achievable but our body does like routine

  • Herbal medicine also offers lots of wonderful herbs to choose from including Valeriana officinalis (Valerian), Eschscholzia californica (Californian poppy), Passiflora incarnata (Passionflower) and Humulus lupulus (Hops) to be blended together to make a night tonic to help aid a restful sleep!

If you're finding that good sleep still evades you then I would recommend speaking with your natural health practitioner (like me!) to see what else is going on - hormonal and other biochemical pathways, such as the production of serotonin, may be compromised.

Sweet dreams!

#sleep #serotonin #herbalmedicine #aromatherapy


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