Feeling tired? Our resident wellbeing expert, Sam Sample, shares her top tips to help you get a good night's sleep.
Considering the stress and stimulation that we are increasingly being exposed to, it’s no wonder that many of us find it difficult to fall asleep at night, suffer from poor sleep or wake up feeling tired and flat.
Checking emails in bed on the iPhone or Blackberry (the one thing I am most certainly guilty of), eating a large meal at nighttime, going to the gym late at night, worrying about how much work there is to get through, watching television in bed or depending on alcohol or pharmaceuticals to help fall asleep, are all recipes for an inability to fall asleep or a disrupted night’s sleep.
Incorporating daily self-caring rituals when you’re unwinding from the day and preparing yourself for bedtime is a much better option that will help promote a healthy and tranquil night’s sleep. The key is to find something that makes you feel relaxed, then repeat it each night to help release the day’s stress.
Diffuse a blend of essential oils in your bedroom. Relax, run a bath, make a cup of herbal tea, focus on your breathing and let yourself go. With every breath you take, breathe in relaxation, and breathe out your worries. Ease into a tranquil sleep.
- Your bedroom is a sanctuary for sleeping. Create a tranquil environment by minimizing noise, light and temperature extremes in your bedroom.
- To help prevent a sleep disorder from disrupting your life, use the bed and bedroom for sleep only. Please don’t watch TV or work in bed (including checking emails on your Blackberry of iPhone).
- Keep a notebook beside your bed and if ever you lay in bed with thoughts racing around your head, write those thoughts down in the notebook so that you can revisit them the next day.
- Avoid coffee, tea and other stimulants after lunchtime so that they have completely worn off by the time you prepare to go to bed.
- Avoid eating a large meal before going to bed, particularly carbohydrates so that your body isn’t busy trying to digest food whilst you’re trying to fall asleep.
- Avoid alcohol as it disrupts your ability to reach deep REM stages of sleep.
- For nights when you really are finding it difficult to fall asleep, valerian is a much healthier alternative to sleeping tablets. The herb is believed to be a remedy for sleeping problems and does not have the same “hangover” effect of sleeping pills.
Incorporate exercise into your daily routine. There is so much research out there stating that regular exercise is one of the best physical stress-reduction techniques, that it relaxes tense muscles, helps you to sleep, improves blood flow to the brain and releases chemicals called endorphins in to your blood stream giving you a feeling of happiness. However, make an effort to avoid high intensity exercise (unless it involves sex) in the evening as it may keep you stimulated. Exercise in the morning or afternoon instead.
Aromatherapy is a true holistic approach to healing in that it uses oils extracted from plants and flowers to treat the physical, mental and spiritual body. Some of my favourite essential oils that help to promote a tranquil sleep include lavender, roman chamomile and sandalwood. Lavender, for example, is regarded as the first choice in the treatment of insomnia. It is reputed to act as a sedative in conditions of mental and emotional agitation and unrest, calming the mind.
Finish working at least one hour before going to bed so that your mind has a chance to stop thinking about work and day-to-day stress. Create a bedtime ritual that appeals to you, whether its meditation, deep breathing, reading, bathing or utilizing the benefits of aromatherapy to help make the transition from “working day” to “tranquil night”. An hour before bedtime add a few drops of sleep inducing essential oils to your oil burner and fill your bedroom with a calming scent. Sip on a cup of relaxing herbal tea such as chamomile or vervain, that are both renowned for their calming, sleep inducing qualities. Run a warm bath, add a few drops of sleep inducing essential oils and relax for 20 minutes by closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing. With every inhale breathe in tranquility and the scent of the oils, and with every exhale breathe out your worries. Slip in to bed and ease into a tranquil sleep.
Do you have a question for Sam? Ask her here.