Did you know that good sleep is an essential pillar for good health? Poor sleep can contribute to everything from food cravings to chronic health conditions. Here’s some simple tips for a good night’s sleep.
Time your caffeine right
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying caffeine in moderation, especially when it’s organic. But caffeine can stay in your system for a long time. The half-life of caffeine – how long it takes to eliminate half of the caffeine – is around 5 hours. So if you have a double-shot coffee at 3pm, you still have the equivalent of one shot of coffee in your system by 8pm.
Coffee fires up the adrenal glands, causing them to release the stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol. When we’re trying to calm the nervous and system and nurture the adrenals after years of stress and hard work, caffeine throws a spanner in the works. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. This comes down to how quickly you metabolise it – some people can still feel wired after 6+ hours. If you’re experiencing sleep issues, try keeping your coffee for the morning for a few weeks.
Minimise any bright light at night
When we used to live in caves, the sun going down would be the end of our day. But when we come home nowadays, we have bright lights in every room.
If you’re exposed to bright light, your body thinks that it’s daytime. This can switch off production of your main sleep chemical, melatonin. So when you go to lie down in the dark, it can take hours for your body to get the message that it’s time to sleep. This doesn’t mean you have to go stumbling around in the dark. But you might want to switch from overhead lights to lamps in the evening, and turn off any lights that aren’t necessary.
The same goes for technology like TV, tablets and smartphones. It’s best to have a minimum of 30 minutes tech-free before bed. I aim for around 1 hour. If you really need your tech before bed, I recommend blue-light blocking apps and programs like f.lux and Twilight.
Find a way to de-stress
A common cause of poor sleep is high stress and anxiety levels. Once your head hits the pillow, you have a million thoughts and worries rushing through your mind.
There are dozens of ways to reduce stress naturally – it depends on what you prefer. Some ideas might be:
• Talking with a partner or friend about your day
• Tai chi
• Sipping a cup of herbal tea
• Having a warm shower (magnesium baths are great)
• Read a chapter of a book
Create a night ritual
Habits and routine can tell our bodies what we’re likely to do next. A good way to ‘train’ your body to sleep at the correct time is to have a routine that you do each night before bed.
This routine can be as little as 30 minutes. Maybe you have a shower and change into your pyjamas, then make a cup of sleep-blend tea. As you sip your tea, you might review your to-do list for the following day. Maybe you find a quiet, relaxing place in your home and do some mindful breathing or meditation. If you make small habits that support sleep part of your regular routine, you’re more likely to get a good night sleep on a regular basis.