Sleep Hygiene – Faulty Winks

By Emma Churchill

Sleep Hygiene – Faulty Winks

By Emma Churchill

Sleep Hygiene – Faulty Winks

March the 18th is World Sleep Day. How is your sleep? Do you get a good night’s sleep every night?  Do you practice good sleep hygiene? Or do you suffer with insomnia? Does it vary? We spend a third of our life asleep, with most adults needing between 6-9 hours of sleep a night. The vast majority of us, tend to experience both good and bad night’s sleep and on those bad nights, we certainly do feel it the next day. So, what causes us to have a bad night’s sleep and what aids a good night sleep?

Our body’s internal clock, called the circadian clock, drives a circadian rhythm in which our genes are turned on and off over a 24-hour cycle. Developing a routine of waking each morning and going to sleep at the same time will really assist your circadian rhythm. Your whole body will begin to register when to wake and when to sleep. So much so, that you may no longer require an alarm clock to wake you up. If we can align our internal body clock with our own schedule or vice versa, this will enable ourselves to work, live, rest more effectively.

Talking about alarm clocks, if you don’t wish to take the risk of waking up naturally, then you may want to consider a wake-up light sunrise alarm clock. This alarm has a gradually brightening light that gently rouses you from your sleep so that you wake more naturally, feeling more energised and ready for the day ahead. Much better than an intrusive ringing bell!

If poor sleep is a real issue for you, you might need to have a look at your sleep hygiene. Reviewing your bed and in particular your mattress is a good place to start. If you have had your mattress a number of years then perhaps it’s time to invest in a new one.  And boy are there lots of different types to choose from – sprung – continua spring, Bonnell spring, individual pocket spring, or non-sprung – Polyurethane, memory foam, latex, gel infused. Then there is the tension of the mattress to consider – soft, medium or firm.   The choices go on.

With such a wide selection you may struggle to decide. Budget may play a part in your decision and then there is your own personal choice. If you’re considering a new mattress, rather than just ordering off the internet, maybe go and try out some mattresses to see which is your preference, you won’t know until you lie on it what your tension preference is. In saying this, many online mattress retailers now offer the option to try the product for a couple of months before you go ahead and commit, so you don’t lose out if you do go ahead and order online.

Blue screen devices such as a TV, phone and tablet stimulate the brain. Blue light in the day is good as it boosts attention, reaction times, and mood but at night this can throw your circadian rhythm out. Try to avoid these gadgets at least an hour before bed and try to keep these devices out of the bedroom as they can easily distract. At the very least these devices normally offer a blue light filter.

Another suggestion is to avoid eating and drinking before bed. In particular a heavy meal, otherwise your digestive system will be working all night to break down the food which will leave you exhausted when you wake in the morning. Try to refrain from eating a couple of hours before bed particularly sweet things like chocolate. Drinking before bed, may result in you waking to use the toilet, therefore disturbing your sleep. In saying this, a nice warm milky drink before bed has been regarded as something to help promote good sleep. Though there is no good scientific evidence to confirm this, you may want to consider drinking a banana milk drink. A banana milk drink – frozen slices of banana blended with a milk of your choice.

Bananas contain magnesium, potassium and tryptophan. Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant. Potassium can help to alleviate restless leg syndrome. Magnesium and Potassium combined have a positive effect on sleep and insomnia. Tryptophan, an essential amino acid that helps boost the body’s serotonin levels. Serotonin plays a crucial role in the sleep cycle. Tryptophan also improves mood and anxiety levels in addition to this it also reduces inflammation.

Having a warm bath or shower before bed can aid a good night sleep, there are lots of lovely and luxurious bath products to choose from.  You can often find lavender in products like this, lavender has been used for many thousands of years for its healing properties of alleviating conditions such as stress and insomnia. Although not scientifically proven, many people confess to feeling more at ease when they can smell lavender.

There is a wealth of research out there which advocates the practice of meditation or mindfulness.   Personally, I find it helpful to listen to a meditation aimed at helping me to fall asleep just before bed. For me it calms the mind down, enabling it to relax more fully and fall to sleep. Gentle stretching is also good before bed too as it helps to alleviate the body of tightness and tension.

Whilst practising yoga and Pilates with Yoga and Pilates with Emma, you will gently stretch and practice mindfulness and meditation – all practices that will help you to sleep better.  You can join me for live classes online/in-person and there is the option to practice in your own time by accessing Ananda on Demand which can be located on my website.

I love my sleep but often struggle to rise in the morning. I am always looking for ways to maximise the quality and quantity of my sleep. Through research and personal experiences, I have shared a few suggestions that may benefit you. During the month of March on my social media channels, I will continue to share further tips and advice. So please do follow me on Facebook: Ananda Wellness Instagram: AnanadwellnessKent

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