So many of us living in big stressful cities, working crazy hours and trying to balance it all struggle with sleep. Yet, it is one of the most important pillars for a strong health.
A 2017 study, showed that over 16millions of us in the UK have trouble sleeping at night!!! That’s a quarter of our population! How crazy is that? But I am not surprised though. How many of your friends, or family members you hear complain about insomnia, or poor sleep quality?
I know that in nutrition clinic, we see tons of people with poor sleep quality, who end up discovering that sleep is possibly a root cause of their symptoms.
While some of these issues can be deeply rooted and may need a bit more work than chamomile tea or epsom bath, there are some important but easily doable actions to take to improve sleep quality and quantity.
It’s a subject I am really interested in and I read a lot about because in my 20’s I had a poor sleep hygiene and it really affected my immune system but also my mental health. I was constantly tired, always on the verge of a tear because my nerves were barely holding, and I would take much longer than normal to recover from a simple cold.
According to the national sleep foundation, sleep plays an important role in our health by impacting our immune system a great deal. Cytokines are a group of proteins produced by our immune cells. They target inflammation, infections and regulate our immune response. These proteins are made during our sleep. So when we sleep poorly or very little, we make less of these cytokines and therefore are less armed to fight pathogenic bacteria.
Improving your sleep hygiene will take time as it may require a shuffle in your lifestyle and daily habits but it is FREE and totally doable.
- Eating too late: isn’t ideal because your body needs time to digest and process the food which can take up to 3/4hours.During your sleep your body is regenerating cells, organs are recouping and recovering. Going to bed belly full means your body has to work twice as hard, hence why you might experience nightmares, sweats and disturbed sleep.
- Caffeine – look for hidden caffeine in foods like chocolate. As you know caffeine keeps you awake so having it before bed may greatly impact your sleep. Many people will say that coffee does nothing to them but, though they might sleep through the night, caffeine is very likely to affect the quality of their sleep, and the ability for their body to full recharge. This is a great podcast on sleep with Dr Rangan Chatterjee I recommend you listen to over the weekend. You will learn so much 🙂
- Screen time/Blue light– Blue light trick our minds into thinking it’s daytime therefore keeps us awake. Switch it off at least 1h30 before bed and keep it all outside the room.
- Unwind before bed – While all the above is ideal, sometimes it’s just doesn’t happen. You have finished work late, had to go to a social event, get in jump on your phone to unwind see everybody living their best lives on instagram, feel sorry for yourself and then have to go to bed..but anxiety kicks in. Now this is when you need to relax and allow your body to unwind. Even if its late, have a quick bath or a hot shower with some calming essential oils…and stretch your body five min before going into your room/bed. You definitely do not want to bring that energy in bed with yourself. It will probably affect your sleep and you will wake up even more frustrated 🙁 One thing I love doing when my anxiety is work related is quickly write everything on my mind on a piece of paper. Just to get it out of my brain onto paper…it helps me a lot.
- Sleeping environment – Make your room a calm and peaceful haven for rest. Keep the temperature cool, avoid any clutter in the room and make it as dark as possible. The best investment I made a couple of years ago, are blackout curtains. Bought them at Ikea for under 50£. Never looked back
Let me know if any of this resonates with you and which one you will be trying…. Or perhaps you already do all of these?