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Sleeping beauty... 4 holistic tips to make you sleep better

Sleeping beauty... 4 holistic tips to make you sleep better

Why a good night's sleep is the ultimate self-care

Sleep, you spend nearly a half of your life doing it, and sometimes some of your day fantasising about it. It’s the key to good skin, good moods and balancing your hormones. It can be surprisingly difficult to change your sleep routine, but a considered effort will show considerable results. Plus it’s free! Over the past few decades, as we empathises and tell ourselves that being busy and tired is productive (thanks capitalism), both sleep quality and quantity has declined.[1] In fact, many people regularly get poor sleep. But if you’re struggling to get better sleep, here are a few holistic, and realistic tips.

 

  1. Light

As the seasons change, you may find it harder to sleep, or find your self feeling more tired as the winter months draw in. as well as the light streaming in to wake you. Your body has a natural time-keeping clock known as your circadian rhythm.[2] It affects your brain, body and hormones, this cycle keeps you awake, and tells your body when to sleep. If you spend your day in a dim office with no natural light, this can mess up these patterns, so increasing your natural sunlight or bright light during the day helps keep your circadian rhythm healthy. This improves daytime energy, as well as night-time sleep quality and duration.

In people with insomnia, daytime bright light exposure improved sleep quality and duration. It also reduced the time it took to fall asleep by 83%.[3]  Although most research is in people with severe sleep issues, daily light exposure will most likely help you even if you experience average sleep. If you can’t get outside more, invest in bright light devices or bulbs. Exposing yourself to bright lights like this during the night has a negative affect however, due to its impact on your circadian rhythm. This is tricking your brain into thinking it is still daytime and reduces hormones like melatonin, which help you relax and get deep sleep

Blue light — which electronic devices like smartphones and computers emit in large amounts — is the worst in this regard.[4] Maybe cut out down on Netflix before bed. You can also download an app such as f.lux to block blue light on your laptop or computer

 

  1. Supplements

Several supplements can induce relaxation and help you sleep, including:

  • Ginkgo biloba: A natural herb with many benefits, it may aid in sleep, relaxation and stress reduction, but the evidence is limited. Take 250 mg 30–60 minutes before bed.[5]
  • Valerian root: Several studies suggest that valerian can help you fall asleep and improve sleep quality. Take 500 mg before bed.[6]
  • Magnesium: Responsible for over 600 reactions within your body, magnesium can improve relaxation and enhance sleep quality[7]
  • Lavender: A powerful herb with many health benefits, lavender can induce a calming and sedentary effect to improve sleep. Take 80–160 mg containing 25–46% linalool. For women and those with mild insomnia the affect was even greater. [8]
  • Melatonin: In one study, 2 mg of melatonin before bed improved sleep quality and energy the next day and helped people fall asleep faster. In another study, half of the group fell asleep faster and had a 15% improvement in sleep quality.[9] Plus , no withdrawal symptoms. Melatonin is particularly good for those suffering from jet lag.

Make sure to only try these supplements one at a time.

     3. Drinking habits

Ever realised you were thirsty just before doing to sleep and been up and down all night as a result? Nocturia is the medical term for excessive urination during the night. It affects sleep quality and daytime energy, drinking large amounts of liquids before bed can lead to similar symptoms. Though some people are more sensitive than others.

Although staying hydrated is one of the most important things for your health is, you should reduce your fluid intake in the 1-2 hours before you sleep.

Coffee isn’t good, for obvious reasons: the caffeine will keep you awake. Caffeine can stay elevated in your blood for 6–8 hours! So even after the caffeine rush, you'll find it hard to fully relax. 

But neither is alcohol good, it increases the risk of sleep apnea and snoring, as well as reducing your melatonin, which as previous discussed controls your cicadian rythmns. [10] Plus Another study found that alcohol consumption at night decreased the natural nighttime elevations in human growth hormone (HGH), which plays a role in your circadian rhythm and has many other key functions. [11]

  1. Temperature

Interestingly, the temperature of your bedroom can greatly affect your sleeping pattern- I’m sure everyone has tossed and turned during the summer months, unable to get a wink. One study found that bedroom temperature affected sleep quality more than external noise!

Other studies reveal that increased body and bedroom temperature can decrease sleep quality and increase wakefulness.

Around 70°F (20°C) seems to be a comfortable temperature for most people, although it depends on your preferences and habits.[12]

 

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4302758/

[2] https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh25-2/85-93.htm

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8340561

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16120101

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11302564

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21399726

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25540137

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16131287

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18036082

[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8345809

[11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8675588

[12] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15578234