5 Strategies To Reset Your Sleep Clock
5 Strategies To Reset Your Sleep Clock
Sleep or lack thereof is one of the most common problems we face for our overall wellbeing. So, I have been researching sleep issues and remedies all week so I can give you the heads up in this week’s blog; I discovered 69% of us have some sort of sleep deprivation and 1 in 3 of us have Insomnia. I then discovered that this deficiency is part of the recurring bad sleep- bad mental health circle. So what started out as a light-hearted way of informing my very own Wellness Warriors how to sleep better, has turned into a serious piece that could well directly help 69% or 1 in 3 of you! Please share if you know anyone who is suffering too x
Good quality, uninterrupted sleep is the fundamental requirement we need to have good physical and mental health. It helps us heal and repair, gives us good energy, mood, and the ability to function well during the day.
Bad quality sleep is conducive to irritability, bad mood, anxiety, depression, inability to focus well on the day ahead, and you’re putting yourself at risk of some physical issues like Diabetes, heart disease, obesity and it even shortens your life expectancy.
If you struggle to sleep for a good amount of time, the recommended for adults is 7-9 hours, or have interrupted sleep and wake feeling tired, drained and dreading the day ahead before you even start, then you are not alone, try these 5 strategies and you could be having very sweet dreams in less than 10 days.
The first rule is to stick to the core strategies! If you don’t you won’t get the sleep you crave.
Strategy No. 1 – YOUR FOOD & DRINK
What and when we eat and drink - I can’t stress enough, is the most important and compounded of all my strategies. There is a strong link between healthy digestion and healthy sleep, long term healthy diet changes will be necessary to create a healthy sleep pattern. What’s the worst that can happen?!…
Eat a healthy diet, generally obviously, but particularly if you’re having trouble sleeping. Lay off as many processed foods as possible, include as many vegetables, brown bread, brown rice, fruits and pulses as you can. Eat smaller portions of meat preferably poultry, or oily fish like salmon, around 100 grams per meal, as these have the elusive tryptophan we need to sleep well. (It’s a bit of a myth that turkey is the holder of the key to the tryptophan treasure, it isn’t! It’s only marginally higher than chicken or any other poultry).
Don’t eat a highly calorific evening meal high in fat and sugar, don’t eat a large heavy portion and cut out the spices. However, don’t go to bed feeling hungry either, a small, healthy snack before bed is absolutely fine; feeling full will help you sleep. I recommend a piece of fruit, a small handful of nuts, particularly almonds which are rich in our new pal tryptophan, or a small pot of natural yoghurt.
I find personally that eating no later 7 pm works best for my body and brain, going to bed around 10-10: 30pm. My stomach gets the time to digest everything so it’s not trying to do it while I’m trying to sleep
There are some foods associated with sleeplessness or bizarre dreams, like cheese and chocolate for example, if you’ve experienced this then leave these out too. Any other foods you know affect your sleep obviously give those a miss.
Lay off the caffeine, have your last hit at lunchtime, we don’t want to over stimulate our brain. This includes coffee, energy drinks - especially energy drinks (don’t get me started!), tea, hot chocolate and some fizzy drinks.
Sorry people but alcohol is a no-no too, in the short term you may find it sends you to sleep, but despite falling asleep more quickly, people who consume more alcohol before bed wake more frequently and experience lighter sleep during the second half of the night. If you don’t want to go without then just drink on the evenings where you don’t have to be on your ‘A’ game the next day, but while you’re retraining yourself leave it out completely.
Don’t drink too much liquid from lunchtime onwards as you don’t want to be up and down all night going to the loo.
Strategy No. 2 – YOUR BEDROOM
It is important you make your sleeping room, just that, well, you can have sex too! Your brain wants to know that this is where you relax, not where you work, indulge your hobby and ever growing ironing pile!…
Give your bedroom a good tidy and declutter, organise your drawers and wardrobe, remove the ironing/washing pile you’ll feel so much better! Even treat yourself to a new lamp or cushions.
Get good bed linen! It really does make you feel fabulous, and wash it at least weekly! Use a lovely fabric conditioner or sprinkle with lavender essential oils. There are lots of pillow sprays out there too; lavender is very calming and relaxing, if you don’t like lavender use geranium or rose, all of them are sooo gorgeous! Make sure you have a good mattress, duvet and pillows.
If you have airfresheners, particularly the plug-in variety, remove them, the artificial chemicals play havoc with our lungs and are inherently toxic. I know you’d like your room to smell of apple pie or fresh linen but there are other ways of making your room smell good, like with our new best friend essential oils, put them in an oil burner or diffuser for much healthier results, not to menton the fabulous aromas and you can blend them and create apple pie if you want to.
Open a small window, yes, even in winter, it only has to be an inch or two but the fresh air will help you.
Make sure the room is dark and quiet.
If your bedroom is painted in larey bright colours you will need to go to the DIY store and make it a nice relaxing colour asap!
Strategy No. 3 – GOING TO BED
Tell your brain it’s time to sleep, our brains love a regular routine and in no time at all it will associate your routine with relaxation, pleasure and the feelings it identifys with good, long, uninterrupted sleep. The trick is to make relaxation your goal, not sleep…
Have a lovely soak in the bath, around the same time every evening, invest in some calming essential oils like lavender, geranium or rose, not vitalising ones like citrus or peppermint and sprinkle 10-15 drops in the water. Ditch the phone, put a big ‘Do not disturb’ sign on the door and relax. Afterwards, moisturise your whole body with a natural skin cream that has essential oils in too. Buy lovely, soft bed wear and one of those teddy bear soft touch dressing gowns – go on, you’re worth it!
Have a 10-15 minute quiet time to yourself, you could do this in the bath, before it or after, but it is good to do this in your bedroom, so your brain begins to associate it with a comfortable, positive space. Sit or lie quietly and focus on your natural breathing and how your body feels in the moment. Allow thoughts and emotions to come and go without judgment, always returning to focus on breath and your body.
Go to the loo to anticipate having to get up in the night.
Take a glass of water with you, in case you’re thirsty in the night, then you won’t have to disturb your sleep to get up and get one.
Strategy No. 4 – IN BED
Now you’ve eaten well and drunk sensibly, you’ve spent the weekend getting your bedroom ready; you’ve cleaned and decluttered, changed the bed linen and spritzed it with lavender, treated yourself to some new cushions, had your bath, moisturised, put on your new PJ’s, you’ve been to the loo and got your glass of water in one hand new book in the other…
Go to bed and get up at very similar times every day, only change by the maximum of an hour when it’s your days off.
Read a good book for half an hour or so, a bit of light reading makes your eyes weary, I usually can’t get past the first page!
No phones, laptops or TV. Leave your mobile phone downstairs, call me sceptical but while there doesn’t seem to be any conclusive evidence (funny that!) that electromagnetic radiation is bad for us, there is evidence that there is a very small chance that we can be more susceptible to tumours, memory impairment, cancer, brain damage and foetal damage when exposed for long periods of time. However, there is a study that has proved that radiofrequency exposure is associated with adverse effects on sleep quality within certain sleep stages.
There should only be you and your partner (if you have one) in your bed, children and pets need to be in their own beds!
No visible clock. If you do have to get up to go to the loo or just wake generally, don’t look at the clock, you will tell yourself, “Oh, there’s only 2 hours before I need to get up, what’s the point?” etc. etc! Every minute is worth it and if you don’t know what the time is then you won’t worry! If you need an alarm put it somewhere where you can still hear it but not see it.
Strategy No. 5 – DEALING WITH WAKING ISSUES
If your partner is a loud sleeper or snorer ear plugs are the only answer, they will take some time to get used to but rather that than no sleep.
Postpone worrying and brainstorming. Keep a notepad and pen beside your bed, if you wake during the night feeling anxious about something, make a brief note of it and postpone worrying about it until the next day when it will be easier to resolve.
If you can’t get back to sleep after waking try progressive muscle relaxation. Make yourself comfortable. Starting with your feet, tense the muscles as tightly as you can. Hold for a count of 10, and then relax. Continue to do this for every muscle group in your body, working your way up from your feet to the top of your head.
If you are still wide awake, get up, make yourself a cup of camomile tea or just sit quietly for half an hour or so, you will get tired again, if you stay in bed you will just toss and turn.
If you have followed all of the strategies and none of them are working for you, you may well have some negative thoughts and worries preventing you from sleeping at night, a couple of sessions of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) to get to the bottom of it will certainly really help, CBT can be much more effective in addressing insomnia too. Have a read of my Talking Therapy page to see if you think that it pertains to you. It is just talking, in a private, safe space, where a qualified therapist can help you discover what your issues are and give you the tools to deal with them.
Be kind to yourself and sleep well, Denise x