I love sleep. I always have. Sleep is first on the list of my top twelve self-care strategies in my new book and if I was forced to choose just one, it would be sleep.
There’s a very good reason why sleep deprivation is the most effective form of torture, without it, we basically fall apart.
So how is your sleep? I work with a lot of clients who struggle to get a good nights sleep and rarely wake refreshed, as we should. The good thing is that there are some simple, low and often no cost changes you can make that will improve the quality of your slumber. I won’t go into all of the reasons why this is so important to every single physical and mental function of our body, I am sure you know that already and if you don’t there are plenty of articles already out there on this.
First of all, I’d like to say that there is no ‘right’ amount of sleep, we are all different, but if you are in tune with your body, you will know when you have had enough, and you’ll most definitely know when you haven’t.
Things that I have found useful for myself and clients include.
- Switch off all blue light emitting devices at least 90 minutes before bedtime. Blue light is often referred to as the new smoking. Blue light devices are basically anything that emits a light on the blue light frequency. Think TV, computers, iPads and tablets and yes, your mobile phone. Blue light emitting devices interfere with our melatonin release that occurs naturally when the sun goes down and in our primitive days this signalled time for sleep. We have been overriding this natural function for some years now, but in recent times with the development of smart phones, we have taken it to a whole new level. How many times have you found yourself ooking at your phone wondering why you aren’t falling asleep? It’s because you are looking at your phone! I promise you this is one of the most important things you can do. Read an old-school printed book instead. Did I mention I recently wrote one? (insert shameless plug here)
- Before switching off, and also if you really must stay connected, reduce the blue light emissions you are exposed to. There are several ways you can do this. On your laptop, I recommend installing the software flux. This free software mimics the sunset amber tones that our eyes and brains are accustomed to and allow for cortisol release to slow down and melatonin release to increase. If you must use your phone, you can install similar software to flux to minimise the blue light emissions. On Apple devices there is an inbuilt feature you can find in settings called night shift. On Android devices, you can download different apps which do the same job. You can buy blue light blocking glasses. They range from spectacles designed specifically for the job to basic orange safety glasses. You can also have blue light blocking lenses put into your regular prescription glasses, which look just like regular lenses, but protect you from emissions when on line and also when reading by lamp light. I started having these lenses put in my reading glasses about a year ago and I will never go back. Try reducing the amount of white lights in your home, and increase your use of amber lighting such as salt lamps, candles and even amber spectrum globes.
- Have a warm shower or bath. Imagine the days thoughts, worries, to do lists and the rest washing away down the drain with the water and soap.
- Try meditation. There are some great free apps out there for new and experienced meditators. My two favourites are insight timer and smiling mind.
- Do a brain dump. Before you sleep is the time your brain will choose to think of all things you have ever wanted to do in your life and need to do tomorrow, next week and for the rest of your life. Get it all out.
- Try magnesium. Most of us are magnesium deficient and magnesium is well known for its relaxing properties and helping to enhance sleep quality. You can take it in tablet or powder form, but the most effective delivery system is actually via the skin. I developed my own range of high quality and affordable magnesium products after finding that most on the market are incredibly expensive.
- Keep your bedroom dark, cool and device free. In order to sleep soundly, we need to have complete darkness and our body temperate needs to drop a little. Even tiny standby lights and digital clocks can interfere with melatonin release. Remove all devices from your bedroom and if you must have your phone in the room if you use it for your alarm, switch it to airplane mode before you sleep so you don’t get any interruptions from notifications during the night and leave it at least 1.5 metres from your head. If you can possibly manage it, remove all EMF emitting devices from your bedroom and go back to a simple low EMF or at least battery operated alarm clock. Keep your bedroom for sleeping, reading and loving only.
- Make your bedroom your sanctuary. Make your bed every morning. Keep your linen fresh, clean and and the best quality and most comfortable that you can afford. Keep your bedroom clean, clear and clutter free at all times. It should be welcoming and somewhere you look forward to retreating to every night.
So, now it’s over to you. See if you can use some of these tiny tweaks to make a big difference to the quality of your sleep, and ultimately your overall health and life.
Let me know how you go!
p.s. It’s only a few weeks until my Art of Mindful Living Retreat in Bali, and there are still a few places left. Why not join me? You know you want to!