Five Ways to Have a Better Night’s Sleep
Written By Lolita Walters
Did you know that the average person will spend around a third of their life sleeping? Our bodies rely on slumber time to perform a whole range of vital processes, from cell renewal and repair to detoxification and maintaining balanced hormone levels. However, according to the National Sleep Foundation, almost six out of ten people report having insomnia or sleep problems at least a few nights a week.
If you’re not getting the recommended seven to eight hours of shut-eye each night or your sleep is of poor quality, it can have an adverse impact on multiple areas of your health and life, such as weight, mood, memory, energy and longevity. Luckily, there are some simple and effective ways to have a better night’s sleep that you can easily begin today to help you wake up tomorrow well-rested and ready to take on the day.
Here are five of our favourite life hacks to improve the duration and quality of your sleep time:
- Switch Off
Electronic devices, such as smartphones, computers, and television emit large quantities of blue light, which is particularly stimulating for the brain. Looking at screens in the evening hours can trick your body clock into thinking it’s daytime, reducing the production of hormones such as melatonin, which are crucial for helping you fall into a deep sleep. The solution? Switch off from your electronics two hours before bed. If you really need to use a device, install an app that blocks out blue light or get yourself a pair of blue light blocking glasses.
- Block Out
The same principle goes for other forms of light since our circadian rhythms naturally align with the rising and setting of the sun. Making sure your bedroom is pitch dark may help you fall asleep and prevent waking in the night or too early in the morning. Ensuring all lights (including those from electronics/chargers) are turned off, using block out blinds and curtains, or wearing an eye mask are easy ways to maintain darkness during your sleeping hours as not to interrupt your body clock’s cycle.
- Eat sleep supporting foods
Did you know the secret to a good night’s sleep partly lies on your plate? A better diet can help combat sleeping issues by providing your body with the right nutrients to support the production of sleep hormones. Precursor nutrients allow our bodies to produce sleep hormones (melatonin and serotonin), allowing us to feel relaxed. You can load up on tryptophan-rich foods (e.g. bananas, oats, eggs, fish, almonds, spirulina, sunflower seeds), vitamin B6 foods (e.g. leafy greens, flaxseeds, walnuts, salmon) and foods abundant in omega 3 fatty acids (e.g. oily fish, flax oil, hemp seeds). Foods such as cherries, tomatoes, goji berries, bananas, eggs, and salmon also help since they contain small dietary amounts of melatonin and serotonin.Tip: Don’t eat too close to bed. Aim to have a balanced, satisfying meal rich in sleep supporting foods at least 3 hours before you lie down to allow for digestion. If your body is busy trying to process a large meal, it can disrupt your sleep. Excess sugars, salt or caffeine should also be avoided.
- Move your body during the day
Make sure you are active during the daytime hours by moving your body for at least 30-60 minutes a day. This could be a walk, run, weights session, yoga or gym class – just do it! This will help to leave your body feeling tired at the end of the day and ready for the nightly repair which happens when you sleep. Regular exercise also promotes a positive mood by releasing endorphins and reducing stress hormones, helping you to feel relaxed and happy and therefore further stacking the odds in your favour for a peaceful rest.
- Use aromatherapy
Essential oils can be excellent lifestyle tools. The olfactory center of the brain (which detects smell) can be used to help relieve anxiety and promote a state of calmness conducive to sleep. Lavender oil has long been used in aromatherapy for this purpose and more recently numerous scientific studies have confirmed the potent relaxing effects of linalool, a fragrant alcohol found in lavender extracts. Simply pop a few drops of lavender essential on your pillow, in an oil burner or diffuser, or on your temples before bed to get the sedative benefits.