World Sleep Day is upon us once more (19 March), and while we’re all pretty excited about treating ourselves to a little sleep in, we’re also sharing our favourite ways you can make quality sleep your number one priority.
Believe it or not, our relationship with sleep can do so much to change our lives; from giving us more energy to helping us to de-stress. In fact, studies have shown that our sleep patterns can even have a physical effect on our brains, changing the way we think. So be inspired to get enough sleep and start welcoming more creativity, productivity, and happiness into your life with these simple, tried and tested tips for catching better zzzzs. Happy napping!
Sleep tip #1: FIND YOUR SLEEP SWEET SPOT
How much sleep we should be getting depends on the needs of our individual bodies and we are all wonderfully different. On average, adults need 7–9 hours of quality sleep each night to recharge, restore and re-energise. The first step to your sleep journey is to find out how much works for you. Experiment with getting 8 full hours (if possible) and then try changing this amount in half-hour increments to see how you feel each day. You’ll soon be able to find the perfect amount that leaves you feeling energised and refreshed so you can work this time into your daily routine.
Sleep tip #2: REDUCE ARTIFICIAL LIGHT BEFORE BED
Lights from our phones, TVs and even electric lights in our homes trick our body clocks so we stay awake later than we should. Make the hour before bed your wind-down time; staying away from all electronic devices and reading a book or taking a soothing bath instead. Switch off main lights and use lamps and candles to create softer lighting that will help your body wind down for bed. Not using your devices also has the added benefit of clearing your mind so you don’t think about work or study when you’re trying to get to sleep.
Some phones can also switch their light from a blue light to an amber light. Studies have shown that blue light hinders the production of melatonin – the hormone that helps us fall asleep. To avoid this, set your phone to switch over to amber light between 8pm and 8am (or see if there is another setting that your phone may have to reduce blue light).
Sleep tip #3: MOVE YOUR BODY
Research has shown that regular exercise can help you sleep better, as well as helping you stay more alert and focused during the day, among many other benefits. So get moving during the day so you can rest well at night.
Sleep tip #4: SOAK UP THE SUNSHINE (SAFELY)
Researchers have found a link between sleep quality and an individual’s levels of vitamin D, specifically vitamin D3, which is produced through your skin from sun exposure. To avoid vitamin D deficiency, make sure you’re getting outside every day. Not only is the fresh air good for you, but the natural light helps improve focus and productivity, and you can boost vitamin D through small doses of sunshine. Always remember to be sun smart while you do this though.
Sleep tip #5: EMBRACE MEDITATION
Meditation helps to calm the mind and body, combat stress and improve your sleep. If you’re new to meditation, start small but, most importantly, just start.
Sleep tip #6: START YOUR DAY SLOWLY
Instead of turning to your phone or emails as soon as you wake up, practise deep breathing for a few minutes. By doing so, you allow yourself to gently welcome the day instead of rushing into it. This can help with managing stress, allowing you to fall asleep easier at night.
Sleep tip #7: MAKE SURE YOUR BED IS RIGHT FOR YOU
Invest in a great mattress, comfortable pillow and soft bedding. These are an essential foundation for sleeping well. We all need different things out of our bed – some like firm, others soft – so spend time finding the right mattress and bed for you. And remember, you spend much of your life there so it’s worth the investment.
Sleep tip #8: REDUCE SLEEP ANXIETY
If you find you get into bed and are having trouble falling asleep for at least 15 minutes, stop trying to fall asleep and instead do something relaxing like meditation or reading a book. Often, it’s the trying to fall asleep that can wreak havoc with our minds and cause anxious thoughts when we aren’t able to fall asleep straight away, which keeps us up for longer.
Sleep tip #9: INCLUDE FOODS RICH IN MAGNESIUM IN YOUR DIET
Magnesium is a mineral that’s been found to offer many benefits including improved sleep. Magnesium helps our body and brain relax, which can help us fall asleep quicker and enjoy a deeper sleep. Add magnesium-rich whole foods to your diet, such as leafy green vegetables including spinach and Swiss chard, nuts and seeds (especially almonds), bananas, lentils, beans and whole grains.
Sleep tip #10: KEEP YOUR WORK OUT OF YOUR BEDROOM
Keep the bedroom for bedroom activities and make sure work stays out of this room. This way your body associates your bedroom with calm and relaxing thoughts. And if you check emails, work on your laptop or watch TV in your bedroom, it’s time to stop. Your bedroom should be a sleep oasis. Limiting time spent doing other tasks there means that when you settle down for the night, it signals to your brain that it’s time to sleep, not check emails.
Sleep tip #11: BE CAREFUL OF CAFFEINE
Know your caffeine limits. Some people are very sensitive to caffeine, without even realising it. Reflect on how much caffeine you consume each day and stick to one cup of coffee, earlier in the day, or green or herbal teas.
Sleep tip #12: STICK TO A ROUTINE
Having a set time that you wake up each day, which does not differ on weekends, will help your body work with its natural rhythms ensuring you get the most from your sleep and are alert when you wake up. Focusing on calming, relaxing activities in the evenings will help bring a sense of peace that is essential to a good night’s sleep. Try reading a book for 15 minutes or having a bath all act as indicators to stimulate sleep. If you love to exercise in the evenings, why not switch to doing this in the morning instead? The endorphins will help energise you for the day and you can use your evenings to do calming meditation or yin yoga instead.
Sleep tip #13: START JOURNALING
Download your day each evening. To avoid waking up to thoughts about the day that’s been or what’s to come, put pen to paper each evening and write it down in a journal. Jot down any thoughts on your mind and reflect on the day just passed.
Some of our best ideas happen when we’re relaxing before bed, or even while we’re sleeping. Did you know that the inspiration for kikki.K started with a list of ideas, thoughts and dreams scribbled down at 3 in the morning? That’s why we love our beautiful 3am Journal, perfect for capturing any thoughts or ideas that may arise, at any moment!
Sleep tip #14: MORE MORNING LIGHT
Let the light in as soon as you wake up. Natural light helps to wake us up and stops the production of melatonin. Upon waking, open the curtains and let the light in or, even better, step outside for a moment and let the fresh air help you start the day right.
Sleep tip #15: SWTICH OFF
Spending just 30 minutes a day switching off from the world can improve your overall sleep. Take regular breaks and make sure you get offline for at least 30 minutes every day.
Sleep tip #16: TAKE A NAP
Napping is a great way to get more sleep into your life. Our bodies naturally dip in energy in the afternoon, typically between 1pm and 3pm. If you can, have a nap for 30 minutes during this time. If you can’t, then at least do something restorative and get offline.
Sleep tip #17: REDUCE AFTERNOON SUGAR
It might be tempting to reach for dessert or a cup of sweetened tea after dinner but any sugar or caffeine in the evenings is going to give you energy, rather than help you unwind. Instead, switch to a calming herbal tea to help you switch off. Serve it in your favourite teapot and teacup and love incorporating this beautiful routine into your evenings.
Sleep tip #18: WRITE A PLAN FOR YOU DAY, THE NIGHT BEFORE
For many of us, when life gets busy, it’s difficult to banish stress and anxiety from our minds at night. Rather than fighting this feeling, turn it into something positive by writing down any minders in a notebook or writing a to do list for the next day, You’ll love the calm and in control feeling that comes from knowing you have a plan in place to action everything in the morning.
Sleep tip #19: CREATE A SLEEP OASIS
Your bedroom should feel comforting and welcoming so that you can’t wait to get to bed each night. Keeping your room organised and tidy and adding beautiful features like plants, throw pillows, blankets and a gorgeous bedside candle will help you love your sleep space.
Sleep tip #20: LOG YOUR SLEEP
Last tip – but certainly not the least! Just as you might track or log your food and exercise, another really great way to understand and improve your sleep patterns is to log them. By doing this you can begin to create new routines and try out new ideas to help you sleep better and make the most of every day. Our Food, Exercise, Sleep Journal is a great tool to begin logging and understanding your sleep.
When it comes to looking after yourself, remember that sleep is one of the most important elements in living a happy and healthy life. We hope these ideas help you embrace more (and better quality!) sleep each night and hope you can add the to your own recipe for Living Well each day.