When it comes to getting a good night’s rest, we are often told about all the things we shouldn’t do… No caffeine, no electronic devices, no this, no that… But what about the things we SHOULD do!? Let’s rather be positive and implement these 5 healthy sleep habits before bedtime.
1. Eat… The right things that is!
About 30mins before bedtime, have a small snack made up of a healthy fat (F) and a good carb (C). An FC snack helps stabilise blood sugar levels and supports metabolism; helping you fall and stay asleep, heal, and even burn fat. Protein can interfere with sleep, so rather eat your last protein meal earlier in the evening (about 3 hours prior to bedtime). Examples of sleep-friendly FC snacks are;
- a bowl of berries and heavy cream/double cream yoghurt
- carrots and guacamole
- apple slices and almond butter
- mashed avocado, cacao and banana pudding
- sweet potato with coconut oil and cinnamon
As a rule, stick to a couple tablespoons (or half an avocado) for fat, and a half cup (or half banana/half sweet potato) for carb.
2. Supplement…When you’re needing extra support!
- Magnesium – effective for relaxing muscle tension and tightness, soothing nervous tension and stress, and assisting in supporting sleep.
- 5HTP – provides the precursor to melatonin, the body’s natural sleep inducer.
- Herbs – such as passionflower, chamomile, californian poppy and valerian help support the nervous system and aid normal sleep patterns.
- Panatonin (Panax notoginseng) – assists in the management of stress and supports healthy sleep patterns including falling asleep, staying asleep and quality sleep.
- Glycine – an amino acid that improves sleep quality when taken before bedtime.
- Morello cherry – a rich source of phytochemicals that benefit the brain and nervous system. Cherries are also a natural source of the sleep hormone melatonin.
3. Write… To declutter your mind
Keep a journal beside your bed. When you feel your mind racing, simply jot down all your thoughts, ‘to do’ lists and worries, as well as any action steps or problem-solving strategies related to these. Then close the journal, put it on your nightstand and turn off the light! You can deal with everything in the morning.
4. Stretch… For just a few minutes.
Besides increasing your muscles’ strength and flexibility, specific stretches promote relaxation, release muscular tension and help you have quality sleep. Yoga poses in particular, settle both mind and body. Begin with gentle twists, forward folds and hip openers (e.g. happy baby) then end with corpse pose (savasana).
Useful tip: When you come in to corpse pose make sure you are on or very near to your bed! You’ll very soon want to roll over and go to sleep.
5. Breathe… Intentionally.
While you are lying in savasana begin to practise Vital Breathing. This deep breathing technique involves inhaling for 1 count, holding the breath for 4 counts, then exhaling for 2 counts. What’s important is the ratio (1:4:2), not the actual number of counts. For example: If you inhale for 4 seconds, you would hold your breath for 16 seconds and then exhale for 8 seconds. Do 10 repetitions of this breathing exercise before you go to sleep. It even helps you fall back asleep if you wake during the night. Vital breathing is a powerful way to slow your heart rate, calm the central nervous system and increase oxygen in your bloodstream. Best of all, the effects are often instant, helping you fall asleep quickly and easily.
Creating a nightly routine out of these 5 simple steps will help let your body know it’s time to slow down and get you in the right mindset for sleep. Soon you will be sure to notice a change in both your health and happiness!