We’ve asked the experts to reveal their ideal tips on how to avoid daytime mistakes, which could be sabotaging our sleep.
Counting ‘sheep’ until the early hours, tossing and turning, ring any bells? As a nation we are sleep deprived, which is costing the economy around £40bn. The research also suggests that people who sleep less than six hours a night, have a 13% higher mortality rate than those sleeping seven hours. But, did you know that our daytime habits could have a significant impact on our sleep?
Don’t spend too much time on your smartphone
New research suggests that those who are practically ‘joined at the hip’ by smartphones and tablets are worsening the quality of their sleep. The research also stated that not only should the likes of smartphones be avoided before bed, but that too much use throughout the day can also have a negative impact on sleep.
It is important to try to avoid using the likes of your smartphone, especially just before bedtime, as the blue light the devices give off can disrupt your body’s natural nightly production of melatonin, the hormone that makes you feel sleepy. Tip from: Nutritionist, Cassandra Barns
Concerns about keeping life’s spinning plates from dropping (metaphorically) can leave us feeling anxious during the day as well as into bedtime. Many will say they try to get to sleep but they are distracted by worries, which get in the way of feeling relaxed and naturally falling asleep. As well as using vitamin B5 in the day time to support the nervous system, I’d also recommend using the traditional herbal medicine – passionflower. Passionflower is for feelings of mild anxiety (so can be used in the daytime) as well as a sleep aid for night time Tip from: Shona Wilkinson, nutritionist at SuperfoodUK.com
Eat little and often
Ensure you are eating little and often during the day to keep your blood sugar steady. This will ensure that the hormone cortisol will start to wind down when you go to bed, as it is supposed to do. Tip from: Dr. Marilyn Glenville, author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar, www.marilynglenville.
Avoid hitting snooze
Hitting snooze on your alarm, prolonging waking yourself up, can disrupt your morning, as you are starting a new sleep cycle, which you won’t be able to finish before your alarm goes off again. This sleeping habit can make you feel groggier in the day, and can even disrupt sleep the next night too. Tip from: Nutritionist, Cassandra Barns
Hands off the caffeine
Stimulants such as tea and coffee should be avoided. Caffeine can stay in the body for up to 12 hours; so if you do have sleep problems, avoid tea or coffee from about 12 noon onwards. Also, strong dark chocolate may be better for us than milk chocolate but also contains other stimulants similar to caffeine so is best avoided before bed. Tip from: Shona Wilkinson, nutritionist at SuperfoodUK.com
Research suggests that those who exercise sleep better than those who classify themselves as ‘non-exercisers. The study found that even just by sitting down less a day could help improve the quality of sleep, so you don’t even have to be a ‘gym bunny’ to feel the benefits of exercise. Working out can also be a great stress reliever, helping your to feel more relaxed and ready for a good snooze, by the evening. Working out can play a major role in managing stress levels. There are two main factors affecting this, firstly, any physical activity boosts the production of the ‘happy hormone’ endorphin, also commonly known as the ‘runner’s high’. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body, which reduces the feeling of pain and helps you to relax. Tip from: Chris Sweeney, COO and co-founder of Fitssi, the new social fitness app.
Keep a regular sleep routine
Bedtime routines are helpful for good sleep. Keep routines on your normal schedule. Many women I see are actually falling asleep around 9pm and then find they are waking too early in the morning. You want to try to go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time every day. A cup of herbal tea, like camomile, an hour before bed can begin the routine. Getting up at the same time is most important. Tip from: Dr. Marilyn Glenville, author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar, www.marilynglenville.
Keep your bedroom as a place to sleep
It’s important to keep work out of the bedroom, so move studying and getting through your emails to another room. This helps you to associate your bedroom as a place of rest. Establish the mood of the room, making it a calm and relaxing environment, this includes the colour of the walls, bed linen and décor, avoiding very bright, stimulating colours,. Tip from: Shona Wilkinson, nutritionist at SuperfoodUK.com
Move over insomnia with magnesium
Magnesium is known as ‘nature’s tranquilliser’ and has a calming relaxing effect on the body. It is particularly helpful if your sleep is being disturbed by cramps, as it is a muscle relaxant. Try to include magnesium rich foods into your diet, such as leafy greens. Tip from: Natures Plus KalmAssure Magnesium Capsules (£11.75, www.naturesplus.co.uk
Avoid alcoholic beverages
Not only does alcohol affect blood sugar levels causing adrenaline and cortisol to be released, but it also blocks the transport of tryptophan into the brain. Tryptophan is important because it is converted into serotonin, the calming and relaxing neurotransmitter. Tip from: Tip from: Dr. Marilyn Glenville, author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar, www.marilynglenville.