Nothing can replace a good night’s sleep, here is how to improve your sleep:
Without sufficient sleep, we can’t perform at our best. It’s not just the length of your sleep that counts, it’s the quality and type of sleep that you need to rest your body, repair your mind and absorb the learning from the day.
There are three phases of sleep: Light, REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and Deep sleep. REM sleep is generally the dream state in which our subconscious is active and we consolidate and new knowledge, data and information from the day–this sleep improves our memory. Deep sleep is the ultimate resting state of the body and brain. Both are vital for feeling energised the following day.
Often, the busy lives that we live don’t allow for adequate rest. And yet, when we do have the opportunity to rest, it can be associated with being lazy.
Some people have trouble distinguishing between being lazy and actually tired or run down. It’s important to learn that pushing yourself too hard can cause burnout and chronic fatigue; it can then take weeks, or even months until your energy levels return.
Persistent sleep deprivation can lead to:
- Brain Fog
- Weakened immune system
- Chronic fatigue
- Hormonal imbalances
- Adrenal fatigue
- Inexplicable weight gain
- Depression caused by lowered serotonin levels
I didn’t mean to scare you there–but you get the idea! Sleep is terribly underrated in our fast paced society and many of us are definitely not getting enough!
A HEALTHY DIET IS NOT ENOUGH TO SAFEGUARD OUR BODY FROM ILLS; SLEEP IS ESSENTIAL FOR OPTIMAL HEALTH
During sleep, the body detoxes, recovers and rejuvenates. Sleep is an anabolic state in which our body builds and repairs tissues and cells. We also release human growth hormone between the hours of 10pm and 2am. So, getting to bed by 10pm gives you an optimal chance for physical and mental rejuvenation. Often, the cause for sudden weight gain or weight loss plateaus is actually sleep deprivation and has nothing to do with caloric consumption!
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP BY FOLLOWING THESE STEPS:
- Avoid Blue Light at Night: Stay away from stimulating laptops, phones and TV screens for at least 30 to 60 minutes prior to bed. EMF (Electro Magnetic Fields) can also disrupt your sleep and general health, so keep your phone on airplane mode or outside of the bedroom. If you live in a city or your bedroom has a window near street lights, then wear an eye mask.
- Be Conscious of Circadian Rhythms: When possible rise with the sun and rest when the sun sets. Ensure that you get real sunlight in the morning–make the most of the summer despite our Northern Hemisphere weather! And in the winter a great circadian rhythm and energy boosting hack is to use an infra red light.
- Go Easy on the Caffeine: Caffeine has a half life of 8 hours and so stays in your system for longer than you think so it can disrupt the quality of your deep sleep even if you think that are insensitive to it.
- Eat Dinner Early: Eat at least 2-3 hours before going to bed and if you do eat carbohydrates – have them at night time. After eating, the body releases the hormone insulin, which takes precedence over melatonin, the sleep hormone which means it is much more difficult to fall asleep after eating dinner than on an empty stomach. Insulin also delays the release of human growth hormone; the anabolic recovery hormone which is vital for building muscle. So, eating a few hours before sleep will allow your hormones to function according to a natural circadian rhythm, just as they should. This also increases your intermittent fasting time, so you’ll doubly benefit from autophagy – cellular rejuvenation, recycling and repair.
- Avoid Alcohol Before Bed: More than two units of alcohol at least two hours before bed can significantly increase your reseting heart rate, and this can negatively impact deep sleep.
- Move Your Body: Exercise allows the lymphatic system to release toxins that are stored up at night. Moving around in the morning releases those toxins which sets you up for a higher energy day!
- Breathe: Gentle deep breathing exercises, quiet meditation and yin style yoga can help relax the nervous system and clear your mind so that you can sleep easily without the mental chatter. Don’t feel as though you need to commit to an hour of meditation or yoga, just 5 to 10 minutes is often enough to slow your heart rate down, quieten the mind and prepare your body for rest.
- Journaling: If you feel ‘wired’ or your mind is whirling with thoughts, releasing your thoughts onto a page is incredibly therapeutic for calming the chattering mind. I love practicing gratitude in the morning and at night so that I can start and end the day on a positive note. It sounds phoney, but it really works.
- Track Your Sleep: You might be feeling better but how do you really measure the quality of your sleep? Get geeky and track your REM, deep sleep, resting heart rate and heart rate variability, which shows how ‘recovered’ you are, by getting a Whoop or an Oura ring. This way you can experiment with different exercises, foods, drinks, supplements and stressors to see the degree to which they positively or negatively affect your sleep.
- If necessary, take supplements that support relaxation and sleep. Below are some of the most effective supplements that I have added to my diet to improve my sleep and get my mojo back!
SUPPLEMENTS TO IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP:
Nutrition also aids sleep and here are a few incredibly effective supplements that I have started taking to improve my sleep during the night and increase my energy levels during the day:
- Magnesium: Reduces tiredness and fatigue, boosts energy, promotes normal functioning of nervous system and muscle function.
- Inulin: Inulin increases prebiotic fibre in the gut which improves REM sleep and has proven to cure insomnia.
- Bee Pollen: Contains B vitamins, Zinc, Iron and all 8 essential amino acids. Supports cell repair and recovery and boosts the immune system.
- Hebridean Kelp: Is rich in Iodine which contributes to normal thyroid function and production of thyroid hormones. This supports thyroid dysfunction and can alleviate stressed adrenal glands.
- Spirulina: Is abundant in B vitamins, Iron, Calcium and Zinc which support your immune system recovery, gut health and increase energy levels. It is definitely the Supergreen powder!
- Turmeric: Is anti-inflammatory , catalyses recovery and reduces aches and pains in the joints.
- CBD Oil: May be a little controversial! But this is purely the cannabinoids extracted from hemp which is the relaxing component. It does not include the THCs that make you high- Sorry! But if you’re feeling a little stressed, it’s amazing at calming you down and relaxing your whole body, preparing you for a perfect night’s sleep.
- Reishi Hot Chocolate: Enjoy a calming and warming cup of hot reishi chocolate before bed. Experience the nootropic effect of mushroom extracts.
If you’re an athlete, a busy parent, a successful executive, or if you have inflammation, autoimmune or adrenal issues or just generally lacking in energy, optimising your sleep with these tips and supplements will help you relax and recover after an intense day or week of your life.
Don’t push yourself to burnout! Caring for your body and mind allows you to be a healthier, stronger and a more effective version of yourself.