Sleep is a massive part of our lives, in fact we spend almost a third of our lives in bed, so if we live to 75 years old, we have slept for 25 years! We have all had times in our lives where we have been stressed and can’t sleep; looking at the clock counting how many hours sleep we will or won’t get, and quite simply – it’s torture. Women have many points in their life where sleep is an issue – having a new baby, or the imbalance of hormones at certain times of the month can cause a restless night sleep, and then the peri menopause and the menopause bring things like nights sweats and anxiety which means – very little sleep again. Living through all these things myself, made me realise how important a good night sleep is, and if like me you’d rather find a natural cure, then you might like my Top Tips.
1.Himalayan Salt Lamps
Himalayan Salt Lamps give off a warm orange glow, similar to the ones found in a campfire or candlelight. For this reason, they make a great night light without negatively affecting our sleep. They also produce negative ions which helps with;
- Neutralising the effects of electronics, like phones, tablets and wifi.
- Boosts mood and energy levels and may help with SAD disorder.
- Soothing for Allergies; Salt lamps have the ability to remove pollen, dust and smoke from the room.
- Reduce stress, and help re-energize and revitalize the body.
2. Black Out Blinds
My Dad moved to spain 15 years ago so I have spent a lot of time in Europe. Europeans use shutters instead of curtains and blinds – probably because they keep the room cool, but what I noticed is you get a great night’s sleep in the pitch black. It’s very disconcerting at first, a bit scary even, as you can’t see a thing, but what I noticed is I got a great nights sleep. Many of us don’t have shutters here in the U.K. but a great alternative is black out blinds. Our bodies are programmed to sleep when it’s dark, so using black out blinds will encourage this rhythm by easing your body into night time, even when evenings or mornings are lighter at different points of the year. A quicker fix to try is a blackout eye mask, these are also great for travel and aeroplanes, when sleep is more difficult.
According to the Sleep Council the ideal temperature for sleep is between 16 -18 degrees. It can be tempting to make your bedroom really cosy and warm, but this can be detrimental to our sleep. A room thats too cold can also make it difficult to fall asleep, so I found that 18 degrees was the correct temperature for me. I try and keep a window slightly open to help the air circulate, and keep the bedroom fairly cool, then I have a comfortable duvet and blanket for warmth, rather than a hot bedroom.
4. Bedtime Snack/Tumeric Latte
Women tend to put weight on fairly easily in middle age, and it can be difficult to shift again. I’ve been trying eat dinner early, but sometimes if there is too big a space between meals, our blood sugar drops, which can lead to hot flushes in the night time. A snack before bedtime can help this; I have a small bowl of gluten free oats, pumpkin seeds, a few almonds and almond milk. As oats are a complex carbohydrate, they release energy slowly, they also contain melatonin and help produce serotonin which in turn helps us sleep. Seeds and almonds also contain serotonin, or this is research kiwi fruit helps with sleep, so you could try adding a small amount of these too. If you have eaten later and don’t need a snack, you could try a turmeric latte.
Turmeric reduces inflammation, lowers blood sugar levels, helps your liver to detoxify, boosts your immune system, and eases your digestive system – all of which help you to get to sleep faster, better, and help you wake up feeling refreshed. You can find a recipe for turmeric latte here.
5. Legs Up the Wall
Working as a hairdresser I stand all day often in the same position, my Grandma Tillie advised me to put my legs up the wall every night to stop me getting varicose veins, but I noticed this made me feel really relaxed and when I looked into it more, I discovered it’s also a Yoga Pose. Viparita Karani is a calming, relaxing pose, and is recommended to do before bed in order to fall asleep smoothly. I asked Yoga teacher Yasemin Sen a bit more about it;
“Legs up the wall pose or Viparata Karani is a calming, nourishing, relaxing pose,” says Yasemin, “and highly recommended to do before bed to fall asleep smoothly. All you need is a wall. Most likely if you are a little stiffer, or taller, your sitting bones will be further away from the wall, and if you are more flexible and shorter, you will be able to place your buttocks very close to the wall. Just experiment with the distance until you find your perfect placement. It is important to feel comfortable while you have your legs up against the wall.”
How does it Help?
Often we have problems sleeping because we feel nervous, anxious or stressed; we have a gazillion things to handle in life sometimes, and this agitates our nervous system, and often leads to digestive problems, foggy thoughts, and of course affects our sleeping pattern negatively, as we are constantly in flight or fight response.
Viparata karani or legs up the wall pose calms the nervous system ;
- The inversion reduces the heavy work for our nervous system to keep the blood-flow steady into our brain. Our system during the pose goes into resting mode, as blood flows without pressure from our feet to our brain.
- Combined with slow and steady breathing giving us a boost of oxygen, which in turn calms you down simply by having your legs upside down.
- You may find yourself floating off into a meditative state and then falling asleep will become much easier.
The more often you practise this routine, the more you will feel the benefits of a calm, nervous system, resulting in a better nights sleep, clearer thoughts and improved digestion.
6. No Blue Lights
This can be detrimental to our sleep as it is believed blue light can cause our body to produce less melatonin. Our bodies are more sensitive to this type of light, and studies have shown that blue light may suppress delta brainwaves, which induce sleep, and boost alpha wavelengths, which create alertness. If you need to be on your laptop or phone in the evenings before bed, try the nightshift setting on your phone or tablet to reduce blue light. If you haven’t got this setting there are apps you can download, or I love these anti glare glasses which block blue light.
It only takes around 6 minutes of reading for our brains and body to wind down, so it’s a great thing to incorporate into your bedtime routine. Probably best to leave the thrillers and crime books for daytime and holiday reads, otherwise your brain could start racing again, so I love to read Spiritual books before bed, something that is uplifting and calming, I love this Louise Hay book – Gratitude. I find if I’m not careful I am always wanting something, a new phone, a better car, a holiday, but by practising gratitude, I am remembering all what I already have, and even in moments where I really feel I have nothing, this exercise brings me back to reality, and helps me realise just how much I do have and helps me feel better.
8. Lavender Oil on the Soles of your Feet
Lavender oil is both calming and mildly sedative, so it’s the perfect oil to ensure a good nights sleep. Rubbing it into the soles of your feet before bed-time is a good way The soles of your feet don’t contain sebaceous glands and have much larger pores than the rest of our body, which means the essential oil molecules enter your blood stream faster; possibly as quickly as 20 minutes, so the lavender oil can get to work helping you feel calmer and more relaxed. The soles of your feet are also less sensitive than the skin on the rest of your body, which means you can often apply essential oils undiluted here, whereas you would normally always use a carrier oil. I use fractionated coconut oil as a carrier oil and still use it even on the soles of my feet, but it’s reassuring to know I don’t have to.
9. Feng Shui
According to Feng Shui, our bedroom reflects our inner world; so that meant mine needed a serious declutter. Clothes worn once not ready for the laundry, but not clean enough for my wardrobe seem to find themselves strategically placed around my bedroom and workout equipment ends up under the bed. I asked Karen Kelly from Home of Abundance how to create a calming, peaceful energy in my bedroom.
I have found meditation to be one of the best ways to fall asleep. Sometimes when we have a lot going on in our lives, our brains are so active we can’t wind down and fall asleep, meditation is a way of calming down the brain, and stopping the steam train of thoughts that are charging through our heads. Starting a meditation can de difficult, so start slowly, try simply counting your breath for 60 seconds, and repeat a few times. This exercise should start to calm your brain and thoughts down, and help you to feel calmer to fall asleep. another way is guided meditation; I love this app by Shazzie, it’s free and I find her voice really relaxing to listen to, and always fall asleep before it’s finished. Make sure you set you tablet or phone to aeroplane mode so you won’t be disturbed, or you will find yourself being woken by annoying emails, plus we know they can play havoc with your sleep.
Hope you enjoyed the video, and all these tips help you have a better nights sleep – Let me know in the comments below if they help!