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In this busy world, it’s not surprising to learn that experts believe that we’re more sleep deprived than ever! And , it’s likely that you feel the effects of too little sleep every day; increased anxiety, mood swings, craving unhealthy food, lack of concentration...the list goes on and on. It’s fair to say that sleep deprivation has an all round negative impact on our physical and mental wellbeing. But, how do you break the cycle and get a good night’s rest?
Well, it takes more than a sleeping in on the weekend to create that balance but the good news is that with a few changes you can feel the difference within days. So, here are a few of the reasons why you’re not sleeping well with a few tips on what you can do about it...
The amount and type of light that we are exposed to can suppress our melatonin levels, which are key to keeping our circadian rhythms in check and achieving a restful night’s sleep. Blue light appears to be the one to watch out for. We’re exposed to more of it than ever before from TV’s, phones and devices so it’s also not surprising that it’s been the subject of many studies (the results show that blue light impacts much more than our sleep too).
Sleep Tip: So what can you do? It’s said that increasing the amount of natural light that you enjoy during the day can be a help and so maybe try wandering out on your lunch break for a few minutes. And when evening arrives, reduce the time spent in front of those screens - it’s recommended that we switch off 2-3 hours before bed but I think that reducing it every night by 10 minutes is a great place to start.
In the quiet of your bedroom, your mind can suddenly feel incredibly loud and become overactive. It ruminates over the day, highlights all of those worries or concerns that have been swirling around your mind and before you know it your anxiety level has increased!
Sleep Tip: Before bed, try writing down any worries that you have together with your plans for the next day. Then try ending the day on a positive note by taking a moment to think about the things that you’ve been grateful for throughout your day; it sounds simple but it makes the world of difference when you drift off to sleep.
Caffeine keeps you feeling awake by blocking the sleep inducing chemicals in your brain and increasing adrenaline production. And, while that might be useful when you need an afternoon pick me up it’s worth remembering that caffeine stays around in the body for many hours after you’ve enjoyed it. So, even those early afternoon caffeine drinks can have a significant impact on how sleepy you feel at bed time and how restful your night’s sleep is.
Sleep Tip: Replace your afternoon drinks with non caffeine alternatives, these days there are so many delicious ones to choose from. But, if the thought of no afternoon coffee fills you with dread then try reducing the number and size of the cups gradually or try swapping just one cup each day for a non caffeine alternative.
Too little or too much exercise taken at different times of the day can have quite an impact on the way we sleep. It’s thought that increasing your exercise even by 10-30 minutes each day can actually make you sleep better. But be sure to avoid intense cardio too close to bedtime as that can have the opposite effect.
Sleep Tip: It doesn’t have to be a gym session to make a difference, an enjoyable 15 minutes outside with the kids, a little work around the house or a slow walk out with the dog all count too!
Falling into bed exhausted at the end of the day might sound familiar but it’s not the most conducive ritual for a good night’s sleep. Creating an evening sleep ritual, however small can make all the difference and signal to our mind that it’s time to relax and prepare for rest.
Sleep Tip: I’ve already mentioned, reducing screen time and caffeine - they’re a great start. But keeping a regular sleep and wake cycle can also work wonders; together with a clutter free bedroom and great bed hygiene. They’re small things that we can all do and they really can make all the difference.
AUTHOR: LEANNA DOOLIN
Co – Founder of holistic skincare brand, Pure Thoughts and advocate for women finding pause in their day to breathe deeply, give thanks and reconnect to what matters. Loves early mornings, dogs and books that you can’t put down.