6 HACKS FOR THE BEST SLEEP OF YOUR LIFE
This morning you woke up like you’d been hit by a train, vowing you would have an early night tonight. But once you finally left the office, got to that Pilates class, cooked dinner and watched just one episode of your new Netflix addiction, you realise it’s way past your bedtime… yet again.
Sleep is so important for physical and mental health, but it’s so much more than just the usual fogginess we feel throughout the following day. When we don’t get enough sleep, it affects our productivity levels (bad news for our workload and growing to-do list). It puts our emotional balance out of whack, resulting in a low mood and a tantrum when the barista uses full cream milk instead of skim. What’s more, it wreaks havoc on our exercise regime and diet. One night of bad sleep and boom – we suddenly don’t have enough energy to hit the gym all week, and we’re ordering sugary snacks just to get us through the afternoon.
Never fear; these sleep-related horrors can be avoided with a strict bedtime routine and these six simple hacks.
Essential oils are… yep, essential.
Lavender, vetiver, sandalwood, chamomile, clary sage and bergamot oils are very skilled at putting you in a calm, ready-for-bed state of mind. Add a couple of drops to a diffuser when you’re relaxing at home, then roll some lavender onto your pulse points right before bed. Bonus points if you have a bath; a few drops in the hot, muscle-soothing water will be just what you need. Oils not your thing? We’re also loving sleep mists and sprays which are perfect to keep by your bedside.
Stay off your phone – unless it’s one of these apps
We all know that using your phone keeps the brain active – making it a big no-no before bed – but there is countless phone apps that promise a restful sleep. Our favourites? Calm, which features soothing Sleep Stories read by well-known voices; Rain, Rain, an easy-to-use app full of rain sounds; Sleep Cycle, which cleverly monitors your movements and wakes you up at the optimum time; and f.lux, which adjusts the screen to mimic the time of day outside, while reducing the blue light.
Watch what you eat (and drink!)
It may seem obvious, but this is one of the easiest adjustments you can make for a better sleep – yet one that is rarely followed! Avoid alcohol at night, which can interfere with sleep patterns (even if you think a night cap relaxes you). Our good friend coffee is not much better, causing problems up to 12 hours after we drink it. Sugary foods and refined carbs should also be avoided as they disturb the important deep stages of sleep, so consider swapping the after-dinner choc mint biscuit for a cup of peppermint tea.
Meditation is everything
A racing mind is the devil when it comes to a good night’s sleep. If you lie in bed for hours on end, going over your day with a fine-tooth comb and thinking about everything you have to do tomorrow, it’s time to try meditation. Don’t worry if you can’t stop thinking long enough to meditate; mindfulness meditation is a style that asks that you pay attention to thoughts as they pass through the mind, so you can process them and then eliminate them. Try the Insight Timer or 1 Giant Mind apps to get started.
Make stretching part of your routine
Research shows you only need a few minutes to reap the benefits of before-bed stretching. Not only will it improve your strength and flexibility, but it will relax you from head-to-toe, preparing you for a dreamy sleep. Lightly stretch with yoga-inspired positions – we love the standing forward fold, the lizard pose and the happy baby – or better yet, sign up to a Recover + Restore class at your CORE+ studio.
Check your workout schedule
If you’re constantly tired, try assessing your workout schedule. If you usually exercise in the morning, switch it up with night time workouts, and vice versa. For some people, morning workouts provide energy for the day, but it can also mean you might drink more coffee than you need, end up working late and find it hard to resist that (second) bowl of pasta. For others, exercising at night means you won’t be tempted by hearty dinners, and you’ll feel more tired and ready for bed. Try mixing it up, or add in some light walks to wind down your body and clear your mind.
Do you have a secret tip for switching off? We need to know! Drop by the CORE+ Facebook page and join the conversation.