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8 Tips for Better Sleep

Following on from a poll I carried out in my Facebook Members Community this week about sleep issues, it seems that the majority of people managed to get to sleep, but got woken in the night. The second biggest struggle was to get the 7-8 hours sleep we need, with many people citing 'kids' as the cause for this.

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Good sleep can help you eat less, exercise better and be healthier. I'm afraid I can't make your kids sleep better, or offer to do the night shift for you, but hopefully a few of these tips will help. I've purposely left out a some of the more obvious ones that you'll already know (like getting a comfy bed and sticking to a regular routine before bed).

1) My biggest tip is to try to get a bit more sunlight and fresh air in the day. Our sleep is directly affected by our exposure to sun thanks to its effect on our hormones. Bright light during the day helps keep our circadian rhythm healthy. This means more daytime energy as well as better quality and duration of our sleep. (In babies a number of studies found that if babies got some daylight between 4-6 pm then they would sleep better at night - might be worth a try!)

2) Reduce blue light at night. You know this, but it's worth repeating. Blue light (from computers, phones and other screens) inhibits our melatonin production. Naturally our melatonin levels rise around 9 pm making sleep more inviting. They remain high for 12 hours. If you're on your screen during this time then it will inhibit this natural process and therefore affect your sleep. If you HAVE to be on your computer then, like I do sometimes, then try installing an app that removes the blue light. I use f.lux.

3) Last coffee at 12 pm. Caffeine stays in your system for up to 9 hours, therefore aim to steer clear of it after 12 pm. (Yep easier said than done when you hit the 3 pm slump). Instead of a coffee, head outside into the bright light and take 20 deep breaths or do 20 squats. It should wake you up a bit thanks to the endorphin/adrenaline affect of exercise on our bodies.

4) Try some sleep-inducing herbs...no I don't mean that! I'm talking things like lavender in your room. I used to put a few drops of lavender oil into a jar of bicarb of soda with some holes in the top as a home-made, toxin-free air freshener for the girls' rooms to help them sleep.

5) Check your room for 'standby' lights. The goal is to have your room as dark as possible and minimize artificial lights. Switch things off at the mains so that there's no red stand-by lights on.

6) Bedroom temp - the optimal sleep environment is 20 degrees. If you have any kind of control over that in your bedroom, use it. You need to be in a cool room to sleep, but not cold. At the moment though in our house we've the opposite issue...too hot!

7) Avoid overeating in the evening. Eating a large meal or one that's hard to digest late at night can affect your hormones responsible for sleep.

8) Clear your mind. If you're one of those who can't switch off before bed (that's me!) then a gentle stretch, reading a book, having a shower or meditating might help. Anything that clears, calms, relaxes and settles your mind is what you're after. If you're thinking meditation might help, check out my post Mindfulness App Review about guided apps that I've tested.

Let me know which of these you've tried and have helped!

 

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