A couple of thousand years ago, it was Acharya Charaka who wrote in Ayurvedic literature about sleep and our dependency on it for true strength, vitality intellect and happiness. He wasn’t wrong. Scientists today know how essential proper sleep can be, impacting on our mental health, emotional wellbeing, work life, relationships and motivation. Even our appearance is affected when we aren’t sleeping properly with swollen puffy skin, sunken skin and grey eye bags.
Most people will suffer with insomnia or lack of sleep at many times during their lives and because sleep deprivation is so common, a lot of us are happy to dismiss it simply as ‘I’m not sleeping that well’ meaning we never really try to get to the bottom of the problem or make changes in order to improve sleep quality.
We’ve come up with some natural easy techniques to help you settle down into a better sleep routine and enjoying better quality sleep too, improving the rest of your life in abundance.
Cut the caffeine
In the age where coffee houses are on the rise and grabbing a latte to go has never been more common, it’s no wonder it’s beginning to interfere with our sleep patterns. If you’re English, you’ll likely have a pretty obsessive relationship with tea as well! Interestingly, caffeine can last anywhere up to 14 hours, so it doesn’t take a genius to work out that our bodies are still wired from that coffee we had at 6pm when we’re climbing into our beds. Giving yourself a clear boundary about your last cup of caffeine could be the secret to a deeper more restful nights sleep, perhaps gradually bringing your cup back by an hour each day until your last cup is before 4pm.
As an alternative, there are some wonderful herbal teas to try out there, which not only have natural benefits such as hydration and cleansing, but also calming which is perfect for later into the evening! Avedas Calming herbal tea is made with liquorice and peppermint – genuinely delicious and based on an ancient Ayurvedic recipe guaranteed to chill you out.
Step away from the Screen
It’s time to break up with your phone. Research suggests a myriad of problems from eye strain to headaches and posture to RSI being part of a phone addiction. Mobile phones are designed to be moreish with their apps for every taste, bright colours and constant stimulation they are extremely hard to put down. Experts agree that the same chemicals in the brain are experienced from using your phone as a gambling addict might get sucked in by fruit machines. Not least of all phones are disruptive to our sleep patterns, the brain being tricked by the unnatural light from the screen into thinking its still day time and stops melatonin the sleep hormone from being properly released. Even when we desperately need sleep, the lack of melatonin makes us think we’re still wide awake.
Trying to wean yourself off will take discipline so start small and refuse to use your phone at all for 1 hour before bed. Sometimes it can be useful to choose that end time, and then put the phone in a different room. If you need it for an alarm, then set that and leave it away from arms reach to stop you from habitually reaching to check it that last time before bed.
Try a good old fashioned paper book to read and of course lavender is a wonderful natural relaxant. Aveda offer lavender essential oil which can be rubbed gently into your pulse points, dropped on to your pillow or eye pillow for soothing relaxation.
Melt your mind with movement
It is without doubt that exercise even in small amounts improves sleep patterns. If you’re not a fan of exercise, think small – a 10 minute brisk walk, 15 minutes of yoga poses (so many books and online sources to try), or 20 minute swim. Little and often works so much better than one huge session every now and again and working at progress rather than perfection is the best mental attitude to getting towards a health goal.
At Mary Ann Weeks Aveda Guildford we have a small but perfectly formed well being studio above the salon and spa, where you have full access to a timetable of classes to suit all needs. From Gentle and Yin through to power yoga and our signature ‘Calm Strong & Balanced’ classes, there is a class to suit everyone. Class prices start from just £10 introductory as a part of our introductory deal The Namaste.
If you don’t eat properly, your body doesn’t function as well. Fact.
A balanced diet includes all the minerals, vitamins, grains and a lack of these can easily disturb sleep. Diets that are high in sugar or saturated fats are linked to poor quality light sleep, with sugar playing around with core body temperatures. The secretion of sleep hormone melatonin is greatly reduced, which makes your brain think it’s time to wake up rather than transitioning into deep sleep.
Making sure to consume a lot of fibre rich food connects with deeper restorative healing sleep, because those types of foods aid the body’s melatonin secretion and even out the ‘bad’ foods.
If you have issues falling asleep or staying asleep, try serotonin boosting foods an hour or two before bed, like Kiwis, bananas and walnuts – all containing natural serotonin levels. Cherry juice is also suggested as a good option for increasing melatonin levels. Foods high in glycaemic acids like melon, jasmine or basmati rice are good for improving levels of tryptophan (essential amino acid that acts as a precursor to serotonin and melatonin).
Finally, consider how much you are eating and when! Diets that leave us hungry all the time can not only deplete energy levels but stop fulfilling sleep thanks to hunger pangs waking us up. Equally, spicy heavy rich foods can cause acid reflux or generally problems in relaxing when your body is busy trying to digest a heavy meal. Make lunch your biggest meal of the day and keep dinner light with easy to digest food.
If you’re still struggling – consider a deep stress relieving massage – we can certainly help you out with that one too! Mary Ann Weeks Aveda Spas in Guildford and Walton offer a whole range of massages to help alleviate stress and get you deeply relaxed and ready for a great nights sleep. Phone 01483 306655 or 10932 240856 to book.
Sleep well and sweet dreams!