If you have read about the consequences of not getting enough sleep in our blog The Benefits of Sleep you might be starting to panic, but most sleep problems can be remedied with lifestyle changes.
Here are our top tips to improve your sleep.
Spend 20 minutes outside every morning without sunglasses.
We have evolved with exposure to light in the mornings, improving our sense of wellbeing and our quality of sleep at night. Some studies are suggesting that individuals who are exposed to morning light have lower body mass indexes, and may even live longer!
Try to take a short walk in the morning, or have you morning cuppa in the garden.
Caffeine before Noon
Do you rely on caffeine to get you through the day? Could you be having too much?
The thing to remember is that caffeine has a half life of about 6 hours for most of us (and for some of us longer than that!) This means that after drinking a cup of coffee, 50% of the caffeine is still in your system 6 hours later. That means if you had a couple of cups of coffee at 5pm, a full cups worth of caffeine will still be in your sytem at 11pm!
You don’t have to give up your tea or coffee, but stick to drinking it before midday to protect your sleep.
Avoid decaff as many brands still contain some caffeine, and if you really need help with that afternoon slump try taking a short nap!
No tech 90
This is a tough one!
Smartphones, tablets, computers all emit the same light frequency as the sun! So if you are staring at a screen before bed, you are signaling your body not to secrete melatonin. Even a glance can make a significant difference.
TV’s emit the same light but are not as close to you so are marginally better.
Why not try a ‘no tech 90’ just for a few days to assess the difference it can make? If you really can’t go without screen time try some amber tinted glasses which will block the blue light. Available fairly cheaply online.
Dim the lights in the evening.
Darkness triggers melatonin, signaling our bodies that it is time for sleep. Our body clocks don’t run on a precise 24 hour cycle…they need cues from the outside world in the form of light and dark.
Dim the lights in the house a couple of hours before bedtime, especially the blue light from electronic devices. Use blackout blinds or curtains in the bedroom.
If your kids want a night light, use red light bulbs which won’t trigger wakefulness.
Leave chargers outside the bedroom, and an alarm clock which isn’t constantly backlit.
Keep evenings calm
Avoid activities that will get you emotionally excited, stressed or angry. News programmes, thrillers, arguments, checking work emails!
Explain to family and friends that the 2 hours before bed need to be a calm time.
Learn to relax, using yoga and meditation.
We live our lives at high speed with constant stimulation. It’s no wonder that we have trouble relaxing. You may actually need to re-learn how to do this!
Yoga is a great way to de-stress body and mind. Styles range from more physically active Ashtanga and Vinyasa flow, to calmer Hatha, Restorative and Yin.
Try these studios in Plymouth
Meditation is another great tool for accessing a quiet mind. I love Light Watkin’s book ‘Bliss More’! You can listen to him here on Dr Ranjan Chatterjee’s podcast
Don't lie in!
Try to wake up and go to sleep at the same time each day, even at weekends.
To sleep well you need to establish a regular rhythm. Late nights and lie-ins are the equivalent of giving yourself jet lag!
It’s amazing how powerful a massage can be. Calming the nervous system and rebalancing hormone levels to increase our sense of wellbeing, and stimulate the body’s innate repair system.
I see several clients regularly for relaxation massage and by the end of the session they are often asleep!
If you want to know more, Dr Rangan Chatterjee’s books have great information on sleep and other healthy lifestyle interventions.
The 4 Pillar Plan, Dr Rangan Chatterjee
The Stress Solution, Dr Rangan Chatterjee
Visit his website here.
His podcast is brilliant too. Try this one where he interviews Matthew Walker, a sleep expert.
Blog Author - PIA MUDALIAR BSc (Ost)
Pia qualified with a degree in Osteopathy in 1994 and set up the P.O.C. with Mike a few years later. She worked as an osteopath until the birth of her second son, when she took a career break, returning to work as a massage therapist in 2008. She has since completed further training in medical acupuncture, TMJ massage, and a 200 hour yoga teacher training.
Pia has a unique style. Her background in osteopathy means she can offer a professional and clinical approach, whilst her years of experience and high levels of empathy enable her to work intuitively. Each therapy session is tailor made to the individual, using techniques ranging form effleurage to deeper soft tissue and fascial release, joint articulation and muscle energy technique.
Pia can provide treatment for specific symptomatic areas or for deep relaxation.