These days, you’ll be hard pressed to pick up a magazine or scroll through the internet without the topic of sleep being addressed.
And with today’s manic lifestyle, it’s no wonder sleep is on everyone’s mind.
Despite sleep being a basic necessity for life, we as a society aren’t getting enough of it, and what’s more is that we need to learn how to do it properly.
While we hope coffee and green juices might get us through those days that begin at 6 and end around midnight, a lack of zzz’s will eventually catch up with everyone.
Training hard for an upcoming 5k, half-marathon or even an ultra? No matter the distance, you won’t be able to push as hard if you are logging the miles but scrimping on sleep.
And sleep is no joke when it comes to an athlete’s performance. The Real Madrid football team employed sleep coaches to track each athlete’s sleep schedules. Think that’s extreme? How about having sleep pods within their training facilities? These Spaniards are taking the term siesta to a whole new level and for good reason.
While you might think, “I’m just an ordinary person working an 8-5 and hitting the gym a few times a week. Do I really need just as much sleep as a professional athlete”
Yes you do.
Getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night has shown to suppress the immune system, leading to increased risk of infection and a myriad of other issues. Think diabetes, heart disease, obesity and mood disorders. Oh, and clinical depression is a likely risk as well.
According to Duke University professor, Dr Edward Suarez;
“By the time you go to bed, you may have 150 life events, some agonising, others annoying- floating around in your head, which is why it can take up to an hour to nod off, even if you’re beat.”
And it’s a vicious cycle, “as day time stress equals bedtime distress, ” as Health and Fitness magazine so aptly puts it.
Dr.Saurez also brings to light that not only do everyday stresses tend to make it more more difficult for women versus men to fall asleep, it also causes females to become more prone to anxiety and anger the following day. Speaking from my own experience, I am notorious for being temperamental when I haven’t had enough sleep. Men are the slightly luckier ones when it comes to sleep deprivation, as higher testosterone levels equals a slower release of stress hormones such as cortisol.
So, how do you get a more restful nights sleep?
Below are three of my own tried and tested ways to get a better nights sleep. In the past I’ve suffered from many sleepless nights, even resorting to sleeping pills at one point. But there are much more natural and healthier ways to hit the hay.
- Carbs: Yes, the healthy ones. My nutritionist has me eat roughly 15-20 grams of porridge in the evening. Having a small dose of carbs pre-bedtime raises your insulin levels (which I am learning isn’t always a bad thing). Getting enough sleep allows your body the perfect opportunity to heal and repair itself while also absorbing the nutrients from your food sources.
- Have a ritual: Each evening, before jumping in the shower, I turn on my diffuser and add Young Living lavender essential oils. By the time I return to my bedroom, the smell of lavender instantly calms me. I make sure the lights are dimmed and technology is no longer surrounding me. It sounds a bit crazy in this day and age, but avoiding your phone, laptop and ipad for at least 45 minutes before bedtime will significantly help promote a proper sleep cycle.
- Invest in a SAD lamp. How you wake up is just as important as how you fall asleep. And being a Florida native, I was not prepared for bleak London days that turned dark by 3:30pm followed by waking up to an equally pitch-black morning. Purchasing a SAD lamp to combat Seasanal Affective Disorder was one of the best decisions I made. Since one of its uses is to help your internal alarm clock register when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to wake, I’m still using it as the days become longer. My favourite is the Phillips SAD lamp, but there are a range to compare here.
What are your tried and true bedtime rituals that allow you to get an amazing night’s rest?