Updated: Jul 31
Sleep goes beyond the essential pillar of health of banishing does eye bags, a quality sleep handle stress, refuels our energy and improves our overall well being. Failure to clock enough hour's sleep it will play havoc with every single physiological function, from your mood to your memory to increasing your appetite. During rest, our memories and new skills are consolidated and entrenched. A good night sleep can improve higher cognitive functioning, while even one bad night can makes us feel fuzzy and scattered. Skimping on a good slumber lead to a surge in stress hormones, like Cortisol, which it may increase the risk of blood pressure and earth conditions.
Ready for a mission for a better rest? by improving our sleep hygiene, which many of us choose to ignore it requires a strong bed time routine: switch off the phone, tablet, PC and TV at least 90mns before going to bed, air conditioning, alarm clocks, light pollution from street lamps and blue night -lights are notorious sleep saboteurs. For a good night sleep yu need to exercise zero tolerance policy against light. Embrace darkness!
Prioritise sleep it should start as soon as we wake up, by allocate some time to getting a dose of sunlight, fundamental for our evolutionary heritage. Not only it does make us feel good during the day, but it also readies our body for a quality slumber, so avoid sunglasses in the morning, take your cup of coffee or tea in the garden (even on cloudy days!), take a morning break and take a stroll outside, walk the dog or get off the bus before you reach your final destination.
Sleep hygiene to light exposure aside, there is another culprit keeping us awake at night: hormones! Oestrogen is one of them, it effect the how the body uses Magnesium - a crucial mineral for rest. Through out the life of a woman, oestrogen fluctuates, as we enter the Menopause this hormone plummets causing havoc across!: hot flushes, irregular periods, mood swings, insomnia, to name a few! Unsurprisingly this hormone causes us a much harder sleep routine to maintain. Take regular exercises, adding soya products, seeds and legumes, nuts, almonds wholegrain cereals, pumpkin seeds, eggs and vitamin B6, leafy legumes, can also aid the production of oestrogen and progesterone.
Sleep woes are symptomatic of mental health, bad sleep paves the way to worry, worry paves the way to poor sleep. Anxiety can effect the nervous system which is unable to reset as it does for no Anxiety sufferers, this constant state of alert, runs contrary to the relaxation needed for falling asleep, cortisol function inverse to melatonin the "sleep hormone". The question is now: How do we prepare our body for a restful night sleep?
Declattering our mind when we feel sad or anxious can be tricky, finding the right head space can turn into a task, thankfully there are plenty of ways to help you sail adrift. Mediation teaches us to be less in our heads and more grounded in the present moment, scientifically speaking the practice lower the heart rates and encourages slower breathing, easing the body into restfulness.
Keep a Gratitude journal before bed write down three to five positive thoughts from that day fro which you are thankful for, it keeps the pessimism and worries at bay.
Aromatherapy has always played a key role in sleep and mood aid. Lavender is the most lauded for shuteye, not only the scent of this little wonder will fill the room with a delightful aroma, but it can also put you in a relaxed state before bed time. A study found that subjects who inhaled lavender for two minutes a three, 10 mins intervals before bedtime improved their sleep and energised their well being once woke up. Alongside inhalation, oil diffuser, lavender pillow, spray or add a few drops to a hot bath.
Exercise supports sleep, working out regularly is a potent remedy for Anxiety and low mood, just a 30mns of moderate aerobic exercises - brisk walking, cycling, jogging, swimming or dancing, no need to train for the London Marathon to clock more shuteye, unless of course that's your aim! Also mind body exercises like Yoga or Pilates can calm the parasympathetic nervous system, helping you to unwind and relax, to stretch and relax those muscles to alleviate tension, it relinquish the stress accumulated during the day. Avoid alcohol and caffeine before going to bed as they DO not agree with sleep hygiene, can also lead to extra bathroom trips.
Ultimately forget Kindles and iPads with their artificial light and potential distraction and go for an old -fashioned book by a dim light lit lamp instead...and reeeelaax..ZZZZ...
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