Sleep can be very elusive for some, and getting a consistently good night’s sleep is often challenging. A lack of quality sleep can create real problems for us though, leading to issues with mental health, energy, body composition, digestion and fitness.
Sleep is the force multiplier, as without sleep it’s very difficult to focus on any other aspect of your health. Interestingly, we don’t really know why we need to sleep, but the main theories are that it helps us make memories and defrag the brain, and helps us to restore and rejuvenate, grow muscle, repair tissues and synthesise hormones.
The quality of your sleep at night can be influenced by how you start your day, in the same way that your day is influenced by the quality of your sleep at night. There is much you can do to set yourself up for a night full of the restorative deep sleep, and REM sleep, which is good for learning and memory consolidation. It’s all about having a routine that you follow every night, that brings you closer to a sleepy state. Here are my five habits that make up part of my nightly routine.
I put on blue light blocking glasses after 7pm
Televisions, tablets, smartphones, MACs, PCs and light bulbs all emit a blue light (a frequency of light not a colour). This blue light has the effect of suppressing a hormone called melatonin, which signals the body to start preparing for sleep. This is causing a big problem for our sleep as so many of us sit under harsh white lighting and spend most of our day (and evenings) looking at our devices. I believe this is one of the biggest causes of sleep disorders today. I wear a pair of blue light blocking glasses from about 7pm onwards every evening to protect my eyes from the blue light. I think this has made a big difference to the quality of my sleep.
I enable the Do Not Disturb feature on my iPhone from 9pm
This is a handy little feature which means I am not disturbed by any messages, calls or emails coming in. The messages will still come through if I click on my phone, but I won’t be alerted to them. Calls will go straight to voicemail, although if someone rings twice in a minute the call will come through (and favourite contacts can still get through if you want). I find it easy to forget about my phone if it’s in this mode, and my time isn’t punctuated with the bing or buzz of my phone.
My bedroom is completely blacked out
I’ve bought blackout blinds for the bedroom, and any little light or LED is taped over or removed from the room. It’s important to eliminate light from the bedroom. If you can’t block it all out, invest in an eye mask and cover your body will the duvet or a t-shirt. Light can be absorbed through the skin, not just the eyes, so a totally dark environment is going to help. I use an eye mask and cover any light with tape or blankets when staying away from home.
I sprinkle lavender oil on my pillow
Every night I’ll sprinkle a few drops of essential, organic lavender oil onto my pillow. Lavender oil is known to help with sleep, and to create feelings of calm. I often diffuse lavender oil into the living room when I’m watching TV too (wearing the blue light blockers of course). This is another part of my routine that I can transport to wherever I’m staying as well, so doesn’t rely on your being at home.
I use topical magnesium on major muscle groups
I use a spray called Ease Magnesium which is great for enhancing sleep and boosting feelings of calm. It’s also a very important mineral that’s involved in over 325 biochemical processes in the body. I’ll spray this onto the major muscle groups of the body every evening – typically, the hamstrings, quads and calves and sometimes shoulders and chest. It’s effective for muscle repair too so if you have any muscle soreness, try Ease Magnesium.
If you have any questions on the above, I’d love to hear from you. Send me an email to [email protected] and I’ll come back to you.
What’s your Health IQ?
If you’re reading this, you’re are probably in a reasonably senior position, running your own business or have a busy life running the home and juggling other responsibilities. Either way, you’re busy. The convergent pressures of work and family life have probably meant that the time you did have to spend on health and fitness has disappeared. Why not talk to us and see how we can help.
Leanne Spencer is an entrepreneur, coach, TEDx Speaker, author of Remove the Guesswork, and founder of Bodyshot Performance Limited. Bodyshot is a health and fitness consultancy that helps busy professionals get more energy by removing the guesswork around their health, fitness and nutrition. Visit www.bodyshotperformance.com or email [email protected] to register your interest in our services and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.