Saturday, 19 July 2014

5 ways to clean up your sleep hygiene



Sleep. So many of us just don't get enough of it. Every day we are confronted with health warnings and depressing statistics linked to lack of Zs, and it's definitely time to change that!

At one point or another we have all been guilty of depriving our bodies of much needed recovery time, and it's harder than ever to truly switch off in the digital age. 'Sleep hygiene' is the practise of a properly structured routine that helps you wind down and maximise shut-eye. It isn't always easy, especially for those of us that work full time and blog on the side, but we do ourselves a massive disservice by not putting sleep first on our list of priorities. Here are my top tips for settling down for a good night's sleep:

1. The cut-off point
Whatever you do for a living, whether you work from home or spend 9-5 in the office, you need to be able to acknowledge when enough is enough.Maybe you can set an alarm to tell yourself it's time to stop working now, or change into your trackies when you get home to bring yourself back into the comfort zone. However you do it, let your body know at a regular point each day that it's time to step out of work mode.

2. Ditch the screens
Electronic screens give out blue light that mimics the dawn sends signals of wakefulness to the brain. Avoid trouble sleeping by putting down your phone and switching off the TV an hour before bed. Instead, try reading a book under warm light, meditating or some gentle yoga. It might be hard to break the habit at first but eventually you'll come to love this time. We're connected 24 hours a day these days so allowing yourself to just 'be' and forget the rest of the world can be extremely beneficial.

3. Drink some sleepy tea
Caffeine is an absolute no-no in the evenings as it can take up to 8 hours for it to work its way out of your system. Instead try a relaxing herbal tea such as camomile or a cinnamon blend. There are loads available but my current favourite is Clipper Sleep Easy Infusion, which also contains Valerian, a great herbal sleep aid. Not keen? Try some warm milk.

4. Take a bath
Not only will it have you feeling squeaky clean and relaxed, but when you climb out of the tub it mimics the natural drop in temperature that happens to our bodies when we fall into sleep. It should leave you feeling ready to snooze!

5. Candles
I've mentioned ditching the screens and bright lights already, but a scented candle (think warm, sweet tones or lavender fragrances) can enhance the room and create a sense of calm. Just remember to blow them out before actually going to sleep!

What do you do to switch off before bed?

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