5 Tips to a good night’s sleep

September 16, 2017
Lyndall McAlpine

I sometimes find myself up at all hours, mostly from a busy mind and sometimes I think even from having a cup of tea after dinner (I’m that sensitive to caffeine).

That’s all good if you are able to sleep in but if not it’s hard to function the next day (reminds me of those zombie motherhood days!!!).  If this is a continual occurrence for you, you may be feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day and actually affecting your overall health in serious ways.

Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind.  People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation.  And don’t forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills!

Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? (Gasp!)

OMG – What aspect of health does sleep not affect??? Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we’re just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of the factors that can affect it.

The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing

Knowing this it’s easy to see the three main purposes of sleep:

  1. To restore our body and mind. Our bodies repair, grow and even “detoxify” our brains while we sleep.
  2. To improve our brain’s ability to learn and remember things, technically known as “synaptic plasticity”.
  3. To conserve some energy so we’re not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day, every day.

Do you know how much sleep adults need?  It’s less than your growing kids need but you may be surprised that it’s recommended that all adults get 7 – 9 hours a night. Try not to skimp!

Here are some tips for better sleep
  • The biggest tip is definitely to try to get yourself into a consistent sleep schedule. Make it a priority and you’re more likely to achieve it. Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour before your “lights out” time (that is 8 – 10 hours before your alarm is set to go off). This would include dimming your artificial lights, no screen time and perhaps reading an (actual, not “e”) book or having a bath. I know weekends can easily throw this off but by making sleep a priority for a few weeks your body and mind will adjust and thank you for it.
  • Balance your blood sugar throughout the day. You know, eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fibre).  Choose the whole orange instead of the juice.  Make sure you’re getting some protein every time you eat.
  • Get some sunshine and exercise during the day . These things tell your body it’s daytime; time for being productive, active and alert. By doing this during the day it will help you wind down more easily in the evening.
  • Cut off your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12pm. Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine, it’s the “added” sugar we’re minimising.  Yes, this includes your beloved chai latte.  Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to be come evening. (I have a great caffeine-free chai latte recipe for you below!).
  • Grab a notebook and write down everything you are thinking about before you go to bed. Keep it handy because if you are like me you will think of the most important things as you are trying to drift off. Once it is out of your head and on paper you can let go and relax.

I hope these tips help you, I would love to know your tips for a good nights sleep (not including alcohol haha!!)

Here’s a caffeine-free latte for your afternoon “coffee break”