Updated: Oct 24, 2018
Here's 5 of my top tips for better sleep!
Tip 1: Establish a routine
I know it sounds boring and too simplistic, however we really are creatures of habit. If we aim to be in bed ideally around 10 pm and asleep by 10.30 pm, that sets us up for ideally seven to nine hours of sleep, depending on you and your schedule. Another part of a night time routine, is starting to dim lighting in your home at least an hour before bedtime, to allow the release of melatonin, the sleep promoting hormone. Some find a warm bath may assist and I find a relaxing yoga session (i.e not Hot Yoga!) for a few minutes, such as child's pose, can really start relaxing the central nervous system. Alternatively, try lying on your back with your feet up a wall to switch into the calming rest and digest mode of the parasympathetic nervous system.
Tip 2: Cut all caffeine
It's not just coffee that gets us energised and wired, caffeine comes in many forms including black tea, green tea, some herbal teas, energy drinks, chocolate and even some supplements (especially of the fat burning kind!).
Caffeine has a 6 hour half life, meaning, you have a coffee at 6 pm when you get home from work, it will be in your system until midnight plus! Aim to ideally have your last caffeinated beverage/food/supplement early afternoon, so 2 pm at the latest! If your sleep is really an issue I would suggest cutting out all caffeine - its very taxing on already depleted adrenals! If you enjoy a cappuccino with friends, no problem just switch to decaf so you don't feel as if you are depriving yourself and you are still feeling as if you .
Tip 3: Magnesium for night and Bs for day
We've all heard about the merits of magnesium - eg. relaxing, alkalising, assisting with cramps and muscle tightness and guess what? Many are deficient in this miconutrient, especially given our mineral depleted soil and often green leafy vegetable low diets! Plus, magnesium is needed for many important body processes such as hormonal balance, blood sugar regulation, muscle relaxation and bone density. So, up the magnesium rich foods: cashews, almonds, green leafy veggies, seeds (eg. pumpkin), brown rice and avocado. Also consider supplementation. I like a magnesium citrate, taurate or glycinate form and powdered supplements will generally offer high dosing per scoop, as opposed to 3-5+ tablets for the same 300mg therapeutic dosage. I also keep a magnesium chloride spray strategically by my bed, to spray on my stomach and ball of my feet, before retiring for the night and for the promotion of deep sleep.
If you are taking B vitamins, firstly aim for a B complex as these water soluble vitamins work in synergy. There are times where additional B vitamins may be required such as B2 for headaches, B12 for vegans or known B12 deficiency states, B6 for hormonal imbalances such as PMS and folate (B9) for pregnancy and various medical conditions. However, B vitamins can be VERY stimulating and best kept for breakfast time ideally.
Tip 4: Get familiar with 4 different herbs - Passionflower, chamomile, valerian and kava.
You can trial different herbs in either tea, capsule or extract format and all 4, have been shown to be effective for help in inducing sleep. Trial one for at least 2 weeks, as different people respond differently to herbs and for a small minority. A great example of this is with valerian (yes its a smelly socks kind of herb!), as it can be stimulating for maybe 10% of people and hence Mexican valerian may be more suitable in this situation. Pick one up from your local health food store or chemist but speak to your Doctor, pharmacist or Healthcare professional first, especially if you have existing health conditions or on medications, to ensure its appropriate for you and your situation. Herbs can be very powerful and hence monitoring and checking in with your healthcare professional is recommended.
Tip 5: Meditate!
I appreciate not everyone likes meditating initally BUT I can assure you, give it time - it gets easier and the benefits are endless: stress reduction, sleep promotion, increased intuition and anti-ageing!!!
Start with just 10 minutes, ideally at the same time each day. You can then aim to move to 10 minutes twice a day - ideally 10 minutes before bed and 10 minutes in the afternoon. Some avid and experienced meditators say not to meditate before bed, as some find it stimulating, but for me and my past sleep issues, it was only ever beneficial. I could feel the tension melting away, my heart rate and breathing slowing and an easier sleep transition.