3-4 mins read
We all know how important a good night’s sleep is in ensuring we feel alive and active the following day.
So why do so many of us struggle?
It could all be down to your habits before bed that determines whether you have a restless or restful slumber.
Many of us seek short-term fixes like caffeine in the morning to enable us to perform throughout the day, often not considering the full effects of what sleep deprivation is doing to our bodies on the inside.
Let’s take a look at some of the potential implications...
Skimping on Sleep
Maybe you already know how a good night's rest can benefit your energy levels, metabolism, and moods.
However getting a restful nights sleep also has a great effect on your skin, even beyond those dark under-eye circles.
Dennis Gross MD, the creator of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare explains: "When the skin is getting less than optimum fuel, it can become dull and pale," he says. "Lack of sleep can be so stressful that it actually causes our bodies, including our skin, to generate free radicals." This can make us look older than we actually are.
Another study for Bensons for Beds had participants sleep for six hours, five days in a row, which resulted in double the numbers of fine lines and wrinkles; and up to three-quarters more brown spots in the form of dark circles under their eyes.
Dr Lancer, a Los Angeles dermatologists state that “insomnia can make a person look ten years older because of stress-induced changes in facial tissue. The term “beauty sleep” is more than an expression.”
Even more seriously than affecting our skin, skipping on sleep has also been shown to shorten our lifespan by resulting in heart disease, heart attacks, high blood pressure, strokes and diabetes.
Now you have a little taste of what COULD happen to your body, we have put together a list of 10 tips that we think could help you get that elusive good night’s rest
Try and go to sleep and wake up at the same time, every day.
By doing this, you are naturally setting an alarm clock for your body while optimising the amount of rest you get. This may seem unrealistic on a weekend when you’ve had a long week at work, or you’ve been for a few drinks on a Saturday night, but waking up at the same time you would do on a weekday can prevent you from experiencing jet-lag type symptoms.
Reduce Light Exposure
Try and reduce your usage of bright screens around 1-2 hours before your bedtime. According to research, using your smartphone before bed can lead to an extra HOUR of restlessness before sleep. Wavelengths in your smartphone can disrupt the production of melatonin, the chemical needed for you to sleep. If you absolutely have to use your phone or tablet, turn the brightness down to minimise the disruptiveness.
Also, if you are a Netflix junkie, I would suggest you get your fix earlier on in the day, as TV shows are designed to be stimulating rather than relaxing, this can increase your heartrate and actually cause you to toss and turn rather than send you to sleep.
Meditation and Yoga
Mindfulness and meditation are scientifically proven to evoke relaxation, causing you to relax and fall to sleep significantly faster at night. Meditation and Yoga are interlinked and are known to work to combat insomnia and the inability to get a restful sleep. Many yoga styles are used to provide a gentle and restorative way to wind down. A national survey conducted by Harvard researchers found that over 55% of people who did yoga found that it helped them get better sleep. Over 85% said yoga helped reduce stress.
To implement meditation into your nightly routine, you can discover further techniques and tips by reading our sleep program (coming soon).
However, to effectively practice yoga, it is advised that you look up your local studio, as learning from a teacher is important, especially if you are a beginner.
Hack your brain through smell.
In complement to meditation and Yogic deep breathing (Pranayama) is the use of essential oils.
It is well known for people who suffer from sleep deprivation to use scents to help them relax.
This in accordance with meditation and yoga has proven to be an extremely effective combination in combating insomnia.
In basic terms, any scent that you associate with pleasant times can trigger a relaxed state of mind by accessing your olfactory system. These receptors are directly linked to the emotional center in your brain, so indulging in relaxing scents causes your body releases feel-good, relaxing chemicals that can set the stage for great sleep.
For the ultimate experience, it is advised that you invest in some high-quality botanicals. At the Ayurpothecary we have a range of 100% natural, organic relaxation inducing sprays that are designed to soothe you into a deep, restful sleep. You can use these in bed in conjunction with breathing techniques, which we have outlined for you in our meditation techniques article.
Exercise during the day
This may seem like an obvious one, but some people often put off exercising and wonder why they struggle to sleep. Regularly exercising will make you feel energetic during the day due to the release of endorphins after an invigorating session, whilst reducing the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep at night.
For some people, it may not be possible for them to exercise regularly, in this case, even a light exercise such as walking for 10 minutes can improve sleep quality.
Note… we don’t recommend exercise before bed, as it is stimulating. However increasing the amount of exercise that you do during the day will aid a more restful slumber.
- Learning ways of falling back to sleep.
Do a light activity.
If you wake up in the middle of the night for more than 15 minutes, it may be beneficial to do a non-stimulating activity, such as reading a book / streching. Try and not subject your body to bright lights or digital screens as this may alert your body to wake up.
Refrain from worrying and brainstorming.
If you have a highly stressful or important job or life event coming up, it is common for people to wake during the night with feelings of anxiety and nervousness. This can be combatted by having a notepad next to your bed and making a brief note of anything on your mind so you postpone worrying about it until the next day when it will be easier to resolve.
On the other hand, a common theme with creative people and entrepreneurs is that they will awaken with a great idea. So to not overexcite yourself, make a note of the idea and work on it the following day.
Officially this practice is not used to send you to sleep, although doing it is said to give all the benefits of a full nights sleep is the space of an hour. However, I found personally that the practice of Yoga Nidra along with essential oils played a significant role in curing my insomnia. Yoga Nidra, is a deeply relaxing yogic technique that takes your mind out of the cycle of worrying which as a result I found highly useful to break the terrible cycle of insomniac thoughts – keep your eyes peeled for an article on this soon.
- Skip the alcoholic nightcap!
- It's not a secret that most people like to wind down after a long day with a beer or a glass of wine. One drink for women and two for males is the daily recommended amount. Exceeding these amounts will enable you to get to sleep faster, but will prevent you from falling into a deep, revitalising sleep. Alcohol will also cause you to make frequent trips to the toilet during the night due to its diuretic effect, so this will obviously cause more restlessness Not drinking is obviously the best solution but this may not fit for everybody.
We are in a sleeping state for a large percentage of our lifetime, so we should ensure that the position we sleep in is benefitting us so we have the best nights sleep we can. Granted it is near impossible to readjust your posture while you are actually asleep, but giving yourself the best environment to sleep in is a start. Purchase the right mattress and pillow for any discomforts or long-standing injuries you have. If you sleep on your side, for example, putting a pillow between your legs will minimise the twisting strain on your lower back. If you have hip pain, a mattress topper will help soften and contour.
Drinking a hot drink before bed can significantly help you have a restful sleep. Anything containing Camomile, passionflower, valerian or lemon balm will all be very soothing both for sleep but also for anxious moments. Yogi Tea have a range of beverages that are designed for bedtime consumption, favourites such as the Soothing Caramel have been endorsed by many former insomniacs, including Tim Ferriss.
Beauty tip: Cotton pillowcases can do more damage than you think! Repeatedly pressing your face into a pillow can cause trauma to your skin, including permanent creases as our collagen breaks down. We suggest trading your cotton pillowcase for something more friendly on your skin, like satin or silk as they cause a lot less friction. Also,pillowcases accumulate a buildup of residue, if you are acne-prone, you should try to wash your sheets once a week at least.
We hope you have found these sleep tips handy, keep your eyes peeled for future articles, videos and blogs to help you on your conscious journey towards better health.