6 Top Tips To A Better Nights Sleep – Starting Tonight

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It’s time for a wake-up call to realise that quality and quantity of sleep impacts our daily mood. It affects what we crave to eat and our motivation to exercise; so maybe it’s time to accept the importance of sleep on our ability to manage our weight and reduce our risk of diabetes and depression. Do you wake refreshed? For those of you who struggle to switch off as soon as your head hits the pillow, or keep waking up during the night, you’re not alone and it’s affecting 30% of us in the UK. It’s detrimental to our health and can result in a vicious cycle of low energy, poor eating habits, imbalanced hunger hormones, lack of exercise and stress - making it difficult to get to sleep and to stay asleep, leaving us moody and exhausted the next day. Is your lack of sleep hindering your waistline? Studies show that individuals who are sleep deprived consume more calories and have a poor appetite regulation.  As my clients will tell you if you’re trying to lose weight getting enough sleep should be a major part of the plan. The never-ending to-do list often leaves us overwhelmed and time poor for important stuff including relaxation, rest and recovery  -  resulting in compromised sleep ‘hygiene’.  No need to max out the credit card on the latest sleep retreat in the Swiss Alps just yet; here are my top 6 tips for sweet slumber and improving your body’s natural ability to sleep:
  1. Enjoy the daylight
Your brain governs your sleep–wake cycle, known as your circadian rhythm.  This ‘clock’ controls your hormones, body and mind but importantly is modified by our environment including light, darkness and temperature. Daytime natural sunlight and bright light will help support your internal body clock and support quality and quantity of night-time sleep, especially for those with insomnia.
  • Open the curtains as soon as you wake
  • Start your day by having your morning cuppa outside – allow the brain to acclimatise to the morning light
  • During the day get as much natural daylight as possible
  • Pop out at lunchtime or take an afternoon walk to boost energy
  1. Disconnect
Using hand held devices an hour before bed delays and reduces the production of the all-important sleep inducing hormone melatonin, which makes falling asleep and staying asleep harder.  Blue light emitted from devices may trick your body into thinking it’s daytime.
  • Remove all devices from the bedroom! Yes, try it for a week – get the whole family involved and see how it impacts sleep.
  • Use a battery-operated alarm clock as your wake-up call
  • Charge your devices outside the bedroom to avoid use in bed
  • If devices must remain in the bedroom, switch to airplane mode to avoid alerts causing disruption
  • Reduce the blue light emissions throughout the evening by activating the ‘Night Shift’ mode on iPhones, or fully commit with anti-blue light glasses to block it out
  1. Out like a light!
Consider how much light is coming into the bedroom from the street during the night and at sunrise – the smallest amount of light when you’re not expecting it may negatively impact your individual 24 hour body clock – the circadian rhythm, and cause premature waking.
  • Avoid bright lights in the evening and in the bedroom 2 hours before bedtime. Try using a dimmer switch to get your body into the mood or a low blue bulb in your bedside light
  • Consider blackout blinds to avoid premature waking and light pollution from street lights
  1. Stay regular, relax and chill
Support your body’s natural ability to sleep by keeping your internal body clock regular.  This may feel like a chore at the weekend, but your circadian rhythms will thank you for it. Prepare for bed mindfully, away from devices, TV and bright lights to reduce anxiety and excitement and induce the sleep hormone melatonin.
  • Set your alarm to the same wake up time during the week days and weekends
  • Set an alarm every evening to remind you to prepare for bed
  • Separate sleep from activities – make your bedroom a chilled-out zone, not too hot (16-18C) and free from noise that may disturb you
  • Try reading a book to help relax, enjoy a bath or a meditation
  • Don’t discuss finances or family issues at bedtime
  • An eye mask and ear plugs may be useful – especially if away from home
  1. Avoid stimulants and late night meals
Caffeine is reported to have numerous health benefits but consumed late in the day can stimulate the nervous system for the following 6-8 hours which can impact the quality of your sleep.  A large meal, alcohol and sugary snacks 2-3 hours before bed may also cause digestive discomfort, blood sugar and hormone imbalance and increased snoring, resulting in sleep disturbance - but don’t go to bed hungry or thirsty!
  • Stop drinking tea and coffee after midday
  • Try a calming herbal combination of valerian, lavender, and licorice root tea before bed to promote relaxation and sleep
  • A light protein-based snack an hour before bed can help balance blood sugar throughout the night - try a spoonful of houmous or nut butter with 2 oat cakes, or half a banana, rich in magnesium, to relax muscles. Bananas also contain melatonin!
  • Avoid waking to use the bathroom at night – reduce fluid intake late into the evening

6. Exercise for sleep, but not at bedtime

Aerobic exercise enhances all aspects of sleep, mood and health and has been shown to reduce insomnia in patients more than drugs, improving time to fall asleep and reducing night time waking and total sleep time.  For most, exercising late at night can have a detrimental effect on sleep thought to be due to the stimulation of the adrenaline hormone, so aim for morning or lunchtime workouts if possible.
  • Take up moderate exercise 2-3 times per week during the day
  • Get off the bus a couple of stops early or park the car away from the destination and walk - aim for 10,000 steps a day
  • Take a break from your desk and take a brisk walk outside, enjoy the daylight and top up your vitamin D
  • Try yoga or a pilates class in the evening as an alternative to aerobic exercise
A great night’s sleep can increase memory, reduce stress, improve our ability to make healthy food choices, improve immunity, improve concentration and reduce your risk of being overweight and developing type 2 diabetes.  Just start with three of my sleep tips…….let me know how you're getting on. Good Night, Good Health!  Book your appointment now or contact me to find out how nutrition can support your goals and how we can work together.  07900 577489 | kelly@bodyalive.co.uk