I don’t know about you but I definitely don’t prioritise my sleep enough. There’s always that last minute load of laundry to do or the classic ‘ just one more episode’ to watch. This refusal to prioritise this basic need causes us all sorts of health problems long term. My sleep gets sidelined – I always tell myself I’ll ‘catch up later’. Except that literally never happens…
Did you know that you only sleep deeply for half your sleep cycle each night? No wonder 1 in 3 of us feel sleep deprived! We actually don’t even enter full REM sleep until about 90mins after loosing consciousness. I would use that as an excuse to snooze the alarm for another 90mins each morning, if I didn’t have to drag myself to work that is. Sometimes it takes me 2 hours just to get to sleep let alone into full blown REM sleep.
So how much is enough?
According to The Sleep Foundation UK, 7 to 9 hours sleep per night is optimum amount for you health and well-being. No matter how many double-shot pumpkin spiced lattes and B12 Vitamins tablets you consume, it won’t make up for the lack of mental clarity and natural energy you get from a full 8 hours sleep. I’ve recently downloaded the Sleep Cycle app which wakes you at up at the perfect time within a 30min alarm slot. It uses your phones microphone to monitor your breathing and movements throughout the night. Weirdly, it’s quite enlightening to see how many hours of sleep you really get and how your quality of sleep varies through the night. For those of us who are sleep deprived, getting to grips with keeping a regular sleep pattern with this app, it can really help you feel much more refreshed each morning! How this app manages to awaken you at the point you’re most awake within a specific time slot, I have no idea… but it works!
Over the last year or so, I’ve noticed that just as I’m about to drift off I get those odd hypnic jerks or ‘sleep starts’ that jolt me awake. For the most part, I get these after I haven’t wound down after a full-on day, and my muscles haven’t relaxed properly. The other reason I get ‘sleep starts’ is purely due to having too much coffee in the evenings *shock* Miss Latte Addict over here should have realised this much sooner! Plugging the problem with caffeine and sugar will only exacerbate the problem, making it even harder to get the rest we need. I’d highly recommend laying off the caffeine for you night owls, to something more herbal if you suffer from ‘sleep starts’ at night. My favourites are the Night Time Tea and Turmeric Gold by Pukka with a generous dollop of Agave Nectar (or honey).
Intuitively, many of you would have realised much sooner, not to you drink coffee in the evening as I do. Most of the time my insomnia comes down to stress. According to Fourth UK about 37% of Brits experience high levels of stress each week. So its unsurprising really, that so many of us struggle with getting a full night of uninterrupted sleep. If you haven’t already, I would highly highly recommend you download either the Calm app or Headspace app – better yet, download both! Either of these apps include easy-to-use, convenient and accessible ways to reduce stress. Regardless of whether your struggling to get to sleep or sat on the train commute to work, you can pop open the apps for a quick Bodyscan or 10min meditation session.
Sleep Saviour Scents
I have been a huge lover of Lush Cosmetics for as long as I can remember. Last year they released the game-changing Sleepy cream pot, I was a little sceptical to begin with but I have been recommended it more times than I’ve dyed my hair *shock*. The body cream contains the essential dreamy ingredients: lavender, oat milk, chamomile and tonka extract to blanket your body in. I apply this mainly to my chest for a quick fix for insomnia… simply amazing stuff! Lush have recently released a shower gel version as part of there festive releases this year, which personally tops the original product for me. I have always preferred to have evening showers and the scent of the Sleepy shower gel combined with a steamy shower releases a drowsy effect on the body.
My colleagues at work bought me the Lush little Bottle of Calm as a birthday gift and now on my third bottle… I absolutely love it! I’m an avid bath-lover anyway, but evening baths with this miniature bath bomb dropped in, help to relax your muscles which will also help curb those ‘sleep starts’ I mentioned earlier.
Creating a sleep-friendly space
-This is something room2 Hometels (pictured) do very well! They very kindly allowed me to shoot in their Southampton Hometel. They have used simple spherical shapes, calming colour palettes and soft textures in all of there Bedrooms, to give you the best nights sleep money can buy away from home.
-In my own bedroom, I have used flashes of blue accents – I have painted a few pieces of furniture a denim blue and hung wall art and curtains in various azure shades to create a calmer scenery for sleep. Ross and I have invested in some blackout curtains too and I’m lucky enough that he doesn’t snore unless he’s ill; earplugs are essential when man flu hits!
-Something that has helped me massively, is keeping a notepad on my bedside table. It helps to avoid lying awake worried you’ll forget something by the morning. Write it down and allow the thought to pass and for you to get some much needed shut-eye.
-One thing I am guilty of is working in bed. Making sure you keep your work and laptops out of the bedroom will help you get to sleep quicker; hide those papers and files in another room. Out of sight out of mind, so they say!
-You’ll notice as you rest, your body temperature increases by the time you wake. Keeping your bedroom temperature between 16-24 degrees (centigrade) is proven by the Sleep Council UK to help you sleep for longer, uninterrupted. Trying not to layer up on the fluffy socks and sweatshirts as we come into the winter months; this season will naturally lower your body temp whilst you slumber anyway.
Please let me know of any other hints and tips you may have too!