Let’s talk about Bed! Seriously is there any better place in the World than your own bed? It’s the place we retreat to at the end of the day, to relax, rest and reboot ready for the next day. It’s our own personal haven and so it should be as it’s where we go to get a good night sleep. And sleep is pretty darn important to our lives. So here is our guide as to why sleep is important and how to make your bed time routine the most relaxing possible to get a good nights rest.
Let’s start with a quick recap of why sleep is awesome! Here’s some of the top reason a good nights sleep can help you live a healthy, happy life:-
- Sleep helps your body – Have you ever had a couple of bad nights sleep and then got the sniffles or been generally unwell? There’s good reason for that. When you sleep your body is busy repairing and replacing damaged cells by producing extra protein. This makes it easier for your body to fight infection and function more efficiently. So more sleep means a better, healthier and stronger body.
- Sleep helps your heart – Your heart (and cardiovascular system in general) is constantly working to keep us going. By sleeping better and longer your giving the heart a chance to recuperate by putting it under less stress and reducing inflammation in your body.
- Sleep helps your weight – As if we needed any other excuse for a good night sleep? Not only does lack of sleep slow your metabolism down but it also affects your hormones. A good nights sleep helps regulate your hormones which keeps your appetite controlled. When we interrupt our sleep pattern our appetite goes into over drive and not only crave more food but more of the wrong kind of food (Hence the cheeky 2am takeaway after a night out).
- Sleep helps your stress levels – Although we’ve already mentioned the affect of sleep on your heart it’s important to note this then has a direct affect on your stress levels. A good night’s sleep lowers blood pressure and lowers the levels of cortisol in your body (cortisol is the hormone that causes stress). Therefore by ensuring a good nights sleep it helps you feel less cranky through the day.
- Sleep helps you look fabulous – I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard the saying ‘getting your beauty sleep’. Well this is completely true. Sleep gives your skin cells a chance to repair which reduce puffiness and dark circles and replaces them with radiant, flawless skin.
- Sleep helps you remember – Just because your asleep it doesn’t mean that your brain is to. During the night sleep gives our brain a chance to to process new knowledge and experiences and gives you a chance to retain it.
- Sleep helps your mood – Have you ever felt snappy and irritable after a bad night sleep? Insufficient sleep effects your emotional regulation which makes you more likely to feel angry or teary. Make sure you get a good night sleep to feel refreshed and calm.
I think it’s safe to say we agree that sleep is amazing and pretty much essential. I’m sure though that there are some nights where sleep seems just about impossible or maybe you simply think that you could sleep better in general? Well the best way to get a good nights sleep is to focus on your bed time routine and how you relax. Here are some top tips about how to get the best nights sleep.
So Let’s Talk About… Bed
Set a Bed Time
Yes I know you are not 8 years old and yes I know that this isn’t always possible, but trust me this is one of the best ways to get a good nights sleep. The best hours of sleep are done between 10pm and 6am so try and fit your 8 hours between these hours. It is a little strange at first (especially in the summer) but trust me it leads to happier and more productive you. The more you do this the more your body gets used to the new bedtime and the easier it is to switch off earlier.
Turn Your Phone Off
Dun, dun, dun!!!! Yes that’s right – phones are banned in the bedroom. I know for many the thought of giving up your phone is a scary thought but not only is scouring social media or replying to emails getting in the way of relaxing, but the bright lights of phones/ tablets/ laptops are also messing with melatonin levels which help you wind down. Switch your phone off (or on airplane mode) at least 30 minutes before you intend to go to sleep.
Oh yes yoga is amazing! Those of you who follow the ‘Living Energetically’ Instagram will know how much I love yoga. Now I’m not suggesting downward dogs and sun salutations before bed, in fact by doing any kind of strenuous exercise straight before bed your more likely to struggle to get to sleep due to an increase in adrenaline and cortisol in the body. Some simple ying yoga moves before bed though is an amazing way to stretch the body and chill out before bed. My absolute favourite is a simple legs up the wall pose which basically forces you to relax. Start by doing it for 3-4 minutes a night and slowly work your way up to 15 minutes. Or simple try any of the following poses.
From Top Left:-
- Baddah Konasana – Bring the soles of the feet together and take your hands around the top of your feet. Lengthen your spine and allow your knees to open towards the floor (bed).
- Supta Baddah Konasana – Follow the Baddah Konasana pose and recline backwards.
- Happy Baby – Lie on your back, grab a hold of your feet with hands and draw your knees into your armpits. Ensure the soles of your feet are facing the ceiling.
- Childs Pose – Touch your big toes together and sit back on your heels with your knees on the floor. Reach your hands and head forward and relax.
- Supine Spinal Twist – Lie on your back with your knees stacked over your hips. Drop your knees to one side and extend your arms outwards. Turn your head to face the opposite side as legs. A variation of this is to straighten the bottom leg. Repeat on both sides.
- Reclining Hero Pose – Stack two pillows behind you. Kneel in front of the pillows with your knees apart. Recline backwards so your lying on the pillows and extend your arms overhead.
- Legs Up The Wall – Lie on your back and place your bum as close to the wall (or headboard) as you can while staying comfortable. Place your legs up the wall and extend your arms outwards.
Meditation doesn’t need to be sat with your legs crossed ‘ohm-ing’ to the world. Meditation is simply clearing your mind of thoughts and can be done anywhere. If your having a night where your finding it particularly difficult to get to sleep then this is definitely a go to. Try just lying in the position you sleep in and focus simply on inhaling and exhaling. Every time your mind starts to wander bring your attention back to the air flowing in and out of your body. The more your do this, the easier it becomes.
Have a bath (or find other ways to relax)
Baths are such an amazing way to relax. Make some ‘you’ time and run a nice deep bath to soak in. It gives you a chance to wind down your body and mind. You can also try adding some epsom salts or lavender oil for an extra muscle soothing, de-stressing super bath. If baths aren’t your thing, try other ways of relaxing like reading a book or going for a (very) gentle walk.
Make a List
Usually one of the biggest reasons its difficult to switch off and go to sleep is because we have a million things running through our brain and mentally preparing ourselves for the next day. If this is the case spend 10 minutes making a list. Write down all the things running through your mind so that you have them ready for the next day. Keep a note book by your bed and if theres anything keeping you from drifting off simply write it down, that way you can stop worrying about it tonight.
Drink a Warm Drink (Just NOT Coffee)
Sipping on a hot drink before bed can be incredibly soothing especially if you make it a nightly routine. By sipping on a chamomile or green tea, or a warming turmeric milk your body will start to associate this with bed time and your body will automatically start to relax. Coffee is a big no-no though. As a rule avoid sipping on caffeine from around 5pm to give your body plenty of time to calm down after stimulants.
Now I’m not suggesting you go straight in and try everyone of these in one go, and become a book reading, chamomile tea drinking, epsom soaker, meditating yogi overnight. It’s important that you find something that works for you. The most important thing is that you find a routine!! The more you can stick to doing the same thing each night, the better. Personally I drink a peppermint tea around 9pm, turn my phone off at 9:30 and then lie with my legs up the wall for 15 minutes at around 9:45. By 10pm I am completely chilled out and naturally start to drift off.
There are nights when this is completely not possible though and thats okay too. Find something that suits you and stick with your own pattern.
Before I go I would like to just remind you that this article is as a result of my own personal interest in living a healthy lifestyle and my own personal experience with these techniques. The information in this post is primarily a combination of information from credible books, websites and my own recommendations. Although there is nothing in this article which should cause harm please consult a professional if you have any reservations about a lifestyle change.
Happy Bed Time!