A good night’s sleep is paramount for your wellbeing and as important as diet or exercise.
However, in the UK, two thirds of the adult population reports suffering from disrupted sleep. The levels of stress incurred by our modern lifestyle impact the quality of our sleep, which in turn impacts our general health. If like me, your daily life is contributing to sleepless nights, then ask yourself: do I have a wellness routine? Getting into habits and being disciplined about them will help your body’s circadian rhythm function optimally.
There are many ways to soothe your body and mind, which will help you prepare for a good night’s sleep. Here are seven tips to use in your wellness routine:
- Maximise exposition to natural light.
If you are lucky enough to be able to walk to work, or at least a part of the journey, do it every day; exposing yourself to bright light helps with energy levels during the day and night-time sleep quality and duration. Indeed, the body has a natural time-keeping clock known as the circadian rhythm: this affects our brain, body and hormones, it helps us stay awake and tells our body when it’s time to sleep. Getting enough sunlight everyday helps balance this system.
- Exercise in the morning.
It is a well-known fact that exercise improves sleep (and general health), it can even reduce symptoms of insomnia according to several studies. But due to the stimulatory effect of exercise, which increases alertness and hormones like epinephrine and adrenaline, it’s better to avoid working out before bed. Prioritize working-out in the morning or at lunch time rather than after office hours.
- Don’t drink coffee too late in the day.
Caffeine has several health benefits ranging from increased focus to enhanced sports performance. But most coffee drinkers would certainly notice that is has an effect on their sleep quality. Indeed, the stimulation caused by caffeine to the nervous system can last several hours. In one study, drinking caffeine up to 6 hours before bed significantly worsened sleep quality. Therefore, it is recommended not to drink caffeine after 3-4pm or stick to decaffeinated coffee.
- Remove alcohol consumption.
In the UK, 80% of the population drink regularly. There are many studies showing that alcohol can cause sleep disorders like sleep apnoea and snoring, it’s also proven that it alters melatonin production (a hormone that tells your brain when it’s time to relax and go to bed and plays an important role in the circadian rhythm). Having a couple of drinks at night can negatively affect your sleep.
- Take a bath with magnesium salts.
The simple fact of getting a bath is already soothing. Relaxing your fatigued muscles and joints by putting some bath salts in the tub is an even better way to prepare for a good night’s sleep. If you buy bath salts, make sure these are Epsom salts, also known as magnesium sulfate, which can promote relaxation. It’s even better to add some essential oils to your bath salts: if like me you enjoy aromatherapy massage, you probably have some in your bathroom cabinet. In this case, favour oils with soothing properties like eucalyptus, rosemary, wintergreen essential oils – these are the easiest to find in store.
- Make sure you have the right bedroom set up.
Investing time and effort in making sure your sleep environment is optimized is one of the easiest actionable steps you can take to ensure a good quality sleep. Nuisances like noise, light or heat can have direct negative impact on your ability to fall and stay asleep during the night. In contrast, sleeping in complete darkness and suppressing noise and lowering your bedroom temperature can help you get the amount of sleep you seek and need.