This post was written by Cyndi O’Meara, nutritionist, author and founder of healthy lifestyle business changinghabits.com.au
Sleep, glorious sleep! It’s a magic elixr, but many of us don’t get enough of it. Sometimes this is due to reasons beyond our control (small kids and bogeymen), but for many of us there are a number of techniques we can use to promote a good night’s sleep.
7 steps to a good night’s sleep
1. Try not to eat a big meal just before going to bed. Get into a routine of eating earlier than later and make sure your food choices are simple; a small piece of fish, meat or chicken with salad and vegetables around 6pm allows you plenty of time to digest the food before heading into slumber three to four hours later.
2. Prepare your house. After you’ve eaten dinner and cleaned up the kitchen, turn all the bright lights off (or dim them if you have dimmer switches), especially lights that have a blue hue to them. This signals to the brain that night has fallen and a change in biochemistry occurs. The serotonin begins to decrease while melatonin (the healing sleeping hormone) increases.
3. Either stop using screens (tablets, computers and smartphones) two hours before bed or put an orange light app on your screens that works with night and day cycles (there are several available) The aim is to get rid of the blue light on the screen. If you watch TV then keep the screen at a distance.
4. A calming tea without caffeine is a great habit about an hour before bed.
5. Shower or bathe before bed using calming essential oils like lavender, mandarin, orange, chamomile and neroli.
6. Prepare your bedroom. Make sure there is no light coming into your room (black out curtains are the best). Temperature should be on the cool side rather than hot and you can also have a tissue with a drop of lavender near your pillow to help calm you.
7. Crawl into bed 30 minutes before you want to actually fall asleep. If you want to read make sure the light is a back light as opposed to a front light. A wonderful alternative to reading is meditation, but make sure any audio you use can automatically turn off without repeating or you needing to wake in order to turn it off.
The idea is to create a ritual and a habit around going to bed. The body will get used to this and you will be surprised how easily you will fall asleep. If you currently go to sleep late but want to increase the quantity and quality of sleep you get, then start setting your alarm early in the morning and change yourself an hour a week.