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  • Writer's picturejuliakimd

Tips for better sleep

Updated: Feb 8

Do you have trouble falling asleep? Or wake up during the night and then have difficulty falling back to sleep? Do you wake up refreshed? Or still tired, despite having slept for 8 hours? Stress, anxiety, lifestyle, diet, menopause, hormone imbalances, psychiatric disorders, medications, and medical conditions are all potential triggers for poor sleep. Read below for some tips for better sleep.

  • Be in bed by 9-9:30pm every night so that you are asleep before 10pm. Anything beyond this is too late. The natural ebb and flow of melatonin peaks at around 9-9:30pm, and then again at about 10-10:30pm. If you go to sleep later than these times, you have missed two opportunities to capitalise on the natural sleep hormone.

  • Following on from the point above, the later you stay up and go beyond those times of melatonin peaks, the more strain it is on your adrenal glands, cardiovascular and nervous systems, i.e. brain and mental health, and the more free radicals are produced as metabolic by-products from staying awake burning vitamins and minerals for the body to support staying awake out of the circadian rhythms of the earth.

  • Make sure you go to bed at the same time every night. You don’t need to be accurate to the minute but within about half an hour at the most.

  • Make sure you wake up at the same time every morning, and as soon as your eyes open, or within around 10 minutes of waking, you get daylight onto your retina. This causes your brain to recognise day time, and set your hormones up to switch into gear to get you up for the day, but also more importantly, to get that night time melatonin up at the right time.

  • Make sure you have dim lighting - you can get orange or red light bulbs that you can use at night - this colour light can also help to enhance your melatonin production. You can also get a Himalayan salt lamp instead of light bulbs.

  • Keep your bedroom cool, use as few heavy blankets or covers as possible - we need cooler rather than warmer temperatures to go to sleep.

  • Do things that you find relaxing for 1-2 hours before going to bed so that you’re in the right frame of mind to switch off. Reading a good book is good, or try a relaxation technique, guided meditation, tapping.

  • Turn off the TV, laptop, tablet and switch the phone onto airplane mode, and don’t watch any screens for at least 1-2 hours before bed. If you really want to reduce the air-wave emissions, you can switch off the router for your internet, and switch off everything that is usually on standby. You can also buy blue light blocking glasses for when you use screens at night but you would still not want to be looking at a screen just before bed.

  • Make your bedroom a relaxing sleep paradise - don't do anything other than relaxing or sleeping in your bedroom. Don't have anything in your bedroom that may encourage you to start thinking about anything other than sleep.

  • Avoid drinking or eating 1-2 hours before bedtime.

  • Only have things in your bedroom that make you feel calm and relaxed.

  • Try adding lavender essential oil to a diffuser, or a warm bath with lavender oil to promote a peaceful sleep.

  • Keep a sleep diary to record how long you take to fall asleep, any night time awakenings, dreams you had, the time you wake up, and if it was a refreshing sleep. You could take it further and keep a diary that includes your food and drink intake, caffeine, alcohol and medications intake, in see if there is something right under your nose that could be affecting your sleep. Please contact me if you would like one of these.

Diet & Lifestyle

There are some things that you should do as a first port of call:

  • Magnesium: supplements can help but make sure you get the right form of magnesium. There are also magnesium oils - the body absorbs magnesium really well through the skin. Another option for external magnesium is to have an Epsom salt bath. Make sure you eat the rainbow of vegetables and fruit - they contain vitamins and minerals (magnesium included) that are all needed to make the hormones for sleep. If your diet is lacking certain minerals, you may suffer from poor sleep.

  • Limit your caffeine intake to one caffeinated beverage per day, and if you really must, then two. Swap them for herbal teas - Dandelion root is a great substitute for that coffee flavour but without the caffeine, or the strain on the liver that coffee has - in fact, Dandelion is an excellent liver support - and you can add milk and sugar just like you would with coffee or tea. You might feel like you need a pick-me-up when you first stop caffeine, but after a few days, this feeling subsides, depending on how much coffee you were having to start with, of course. If you do need a cup of coffee, make sure that you have it after 2 hours of being awake so that your own hormones have a chance to normalise, and/or by 10am at the latest. Caffeine causes a release of cortisol and adrenaline, two stress hormones, and their effects can last up to 12 hours, and they also cause other effects on hormones like insulin, which causes energy crashes later on in the day. Cortisol also causes fat to build up around the waistline, so too much coffee can actually increase your weight. In addition, fat around the middle increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. If you were having 6 cups a day, perhaps start by having 5 or even halve the amount if you can. Be gentle on yourself - do this over a few days or a week, so that you ease your way out of the caffeine cycle slowly. Often people find they have too much coffee and then feel they need alcohol to bring them down from the buzzy high of the central nervous system stimulant that is caffeine! However, avoid alcohol as a 'crutch' to help you get to sleep – it is a diuretic and will probably make you wake up to urinate during the night, and as it causes extra processing load on your liver, this causes you to wake up in the early hours of the morning.

  • Not getting enough exercise can be a cause of insomnia - make sure you get out for that walk or run or swim, or whatever it is that you enjoy to do to keep fit. If you do not do much exercise, walking is by far the best, and if you have knee or hip problems, try cycling, swimming or yoga so that your joints are a bit more protected.

  • Sugar is a central nervous system stimulant, and can cause a racing mind that cannot switch off. It also increases blood sugar levels, causing a crash later on, which causes you to wake up too early. Rather replace sugary snacks and foods with good fats, protein-rich foods, and complex carbohydrates.

Stress & anxiety

There are many herbs that help promote sleep by making you feel drowsy so that you can drift off, as well as to help keep you asleep for longer to avoid waking during the night. If you have trouble switching off from anxiety and stress, there are herbs to help calm the mind and nervous system, as well as Bach Flower Remedies that can help with emotions and mindsets. Other things to try help buffer the stress would be:

  • Listen to guided meditation - there are many free videos on YouTube, and you can search for "guided meditation for anxiety", or "guided meditation for insomnia".

  • Breathing exercises - help refocus attention on relaxing rather than the chattering in your mind or worrying about things. Breathe in through your nose and out through the mouth. Holding your breath in-between breathing in and breathing out can actually help increase the carbon dioxide in the blood, which actually helps to switch on the parasympathetic nervous system, the side that tells us to "rest and digest".

  • Emotional freedom technique or Tapping - this is definitely something to try, here is a wonderful resource that explains all about it - I have no affiliation with this website, just that it's well worth a try and the best place for the info about it:

The natural way to help your insomnia is most successful when you combine various techniques. The tips above are just a few of the things you can try. Read my other blog on the Five Pillars of Health as they all affect your sleep.

If you are experiencing problems with sleeping, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

Lady sleeping

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