The clocks are changing this weekend and the shift in light levels can do strange things to our sleep patterns.
If you need a little extra help to regulate your sleeping habits, here are some things worth trying:
KEEP IN RHYTHM
Now this can be a bit tricky at this time of year, especially with the hour shift, but syncing up with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, will do wonders for your sleep.
- try to go to sleep & wake around the same time each day (yes, even weekends if possible)
- if it’s getting off to sleep you struggle with then try steering clear of those luxurious day time naps
Yup, you guessed it! This time of year is more important than any to kick off your slippers and don your trainers. I know it can sometimes feel like fighting our natural instincts to hibernate but exercise is not only a super simple and effective treatment for sleep disorders, it also makes you feel pretty awesome.
- as exercise speeds up your metabolism and stimulates hormones like cortisol, it’s best to give yourself around 3hrs to wind down post exercise before bedtime.
- combining gentle exercise with relaxation is perfect to encourage healthy sleep patterns - evening Yin style yoga is blissful (try this video for inspiration)
HIT THE DIMMER SWITCH
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Your brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dark—making you sleepy—and less when it’s light—making you more alert. Modern life has a habit of interfering with this natural pattern so it’s a good idea to:
- try and absorb as much light as possible in the morning to help the body wake up
- avoid bright screens for 1-2 hours before bed – blue light from phones, tablets, computers and TV’s are especially disruptive. Most devises have an option to adjust the brightness which is worth doing in the evening
- invest in a light therapy box to support your natural rhythm
I love using the Lumie Bodyclock Iris 500 because it adds aromatherapy in the mix (two chambers - morning and evening). An alternative alarm clock, it recreates sunset and sunrise to help you drift off naturally and wake up gently whilst enjoying your chosen essential oils.
RETHINK YOUR FOOD & DRINK
Unsurprisingly, what you eat or drink can have a big impact on how well you sleep.
- limit caffeine / nicotine before bed and try sipping on herbal tea like chamomile instead
- no more nightcaps! Alcohol can often feel like a good idea to help you relax but it’s all an illusion when it comes to sleep. It actually just interferes with your sleep cycling making you feel super tired the next morning
- eating big meals earlier (at least 2 hours before bed) is a good idea
One of the main things affecting our sleep is busy mindedness and however much we may love our smartphones and tablets, they have a considerable part to play. This habitual distractibility combined with stress of some kind or other makes it increasingly challenging to let go and be content. Don’t feel too glum about it though as there are lots of options to help you out, it is just about experimenting and finding the right one for you:
meditation // yoga // aromatherapy // talking therapy // digital detox (at home or holiday) // mindfulness