Do you remember as a child being told "you need a sleep!" when you got a bit grumpy and annoyed? (I remember it clearly, and it's funny, now I wish I could cash in on all the naps I negotiated my way out of!)
When we are exhausted, we don't function to our full potential, and it affects our enjoyment of life.
Many times we think we are tired because we are doing too much, but it's often not that.. it’s because we are not getting enough sleep!
Most of us need between 7-8 hours of sleep per night to allow our body and mind to rest, rejuvenate, replenish and heal. Not getting the full amount of sleep is like a plant not getting enough water.. our energy wilts and our health suffers.
There is much research that proves our responses to stressful events differ according to how much sleep we have had the previous night.
A good night's sleep lowers cortisol and rests the nervous system, making our outlook fresh the next day.
Here's a few of my tips for getting a good night's sleep:
1. Do the maths..
Know what time you need to be asleep by: I like to be awake by 5.30am and function best with 7.5-8 hours sleep. This means when I calculate back, I need to be asleep (note ASLEEP, not just "going to bed") by 9.30-10pm. Any later means I've had an inadequate number of hours.
Make a pattern of counting the hours so you are monitoring you are getting enough. Our cortisol levels naturally start to rise at 2am, so getting as many hours sleep as you can before then is a great gift to deep, restful sleep.
I am a huge advocate of early rising... it gives you so much more "time for you" that is generally spent in a healthier way than our late night patterns do.
2. Train yourself to create a pattern & bounce out of bed:
Creating a regular routine for sleeping and rising times gets your body into a good rhythm.
Hitting snooze in the morning not only impacts our freshness during the day, but also affects our not feeling sleepy that night, at the time we should be going to sleep. (The pattern then begins!)
I once read something that said that hitting the snooze button in the morning is like telling yourself you have nothing to look forward to for the day.
Every time I am tempted, I remind myself that I have ALOT to look forward to, and I make myself get straight up.
A splash of cold water on the face, and an invigorating dry body brush will get you going if you need a little motivation, but basically.. just.. get.. up!!!
I love exercising in the morning, so I choose what I will do and what I will wear the night before, and I always have a plan to start my day which really helps (and makes me tired at the same time when night comes around.)
3. Create a peaceful sleep sanctuary:
Every ritual starts with a space that serves the purpose and is prepared with intention.
Prepare your bedroom with freshly cleaned or misted sheets to make it feel like a luxury hotel when you slip into bed.
Light a candle or diffuse essential oils to create a calming atmosphere before you sleep, and mist your linen so the scent transports you out of your head and into the feeling of connecting with the comfort of your bed.
Candles can feel very symbolic as a sleep ritual.. lighting them sets the intention, and blowing out the candlelight signifies the end of the day.
And looking at the blue screens of our phones, computers and TV’s in the last hour or two before sleep will impact our ability to wind down, so it’s much better to read a book and switch off devices early.
4. Aromatherapy & Herbs:
Essential oils have a powerful effect on our body & mind responses. I like to add aromatherapy salts with Lavender & Geranium to my bath to relax my mind and help it switch off before bed, to start the cycle of rest.
You can also massage our De-Stress Body Oil or Sleepyhead Rollette over your neck, chest and shoulders to really allow the aromatherapy benefits to absorb into your skin.
Sipping on a restful blend of iKOU “Rest & Relax” tea will also help to soothe you into a sleepy state.
5. Trouble falling asleep?
Research shows that if you have trouble falling asleep, having a hot bath about two hours before bedtime can help.
The bath artificially raises the body temperature, which then drops rapidly after we get out, and it’s this rapid cooling of the body that releases the sleep hormone melatonin, helping us fall into a deep sleep.
Showers are not as effective, as the steeper the temperature drop, the deeper the sleep response. And of course, adding aromatherapy bath salts to your bath will enhance the effects even more!
NETFLIX DOESN’T HELP YOU SWITCH OFF AS MUCH AS YOU THINK:
If we are watching or reading something that raises your heart rate before you go to bed, this can impact sleep quality.
Often we think watching escapist television helps us de-stress because we forget our worries, but if the content is stressful or exciting, it makes us feel the same emotions we are watching!
Try and keep things calm in the hours you wind down. (Funny how we tune in to this feeling easily in the morning as we allow our bodies to quietly wake up, but often forget to do it in the reverse!)
The other thing watching television does is makes us ignore our sleepy feelings when our body is ready to sleep, because we force ourselves to stay awake to watch the end of the show.
6. Waking up in the night:
If you're like me and sometimes wake around 1 or 2 am, I highly recommend keep an iKOU SleepyHead Rollette next to the bed.
I find this is the time of the night my "monkey mind" starts chatting, filled with ideas and action plans (or worry!) I've tried many things for this before I found my perfect remedy, and the winning formula is what we now bottle into our iKOU SleepyHead Rollette.
We have had many fans of our Sleepyhead Aromatherapy Roll On for over 10 years now, even skeptics who don’t believe it will work find it works for them!
(Watch our video when you finish reading to see the tips for how to use it and why it works.)
Room temperature can also affect sleep. If we are too warm it can wake us up, so choose cool cottons and blankets that are right for the season. If you can, having a little fresh air in the room will help as well.
- Waking to go to the toilet:
If you are waking regularly to go to the toilet in the night, keep in mind this can be a pattern that can sometimes be broken.
I recall a study from the wonderful Dr Karl Kruszelnicki that talked about training your bladder. He said that when we go to the toilet “just in case” or “while you can” you teach your bladder to trigger the need to be empty before it is full.
Once you start this pattern it then can start waking you up regularly to go to the toilet. Of course I am not recommending hang on when you really need to go, but perhaps when you wake, actually think about the pattern you are creating and whether you really need to disturb your sleep and get up, or just go back to sleep.
It only takes a couple of times to create or break a pattern that is simply habit.
Incidentally, if you do need to get up in the night, Dr Karl also recommended keeping one eye closed. When both eyes see the light it starts to wake us up because our body thinks it is the morning sun! (It might look funny, but it works!)
- Anxiety about waking in the night:
The anxiety we bring to waking up in the night can impact our sleep hugely, and also cause a lot of stress and worry about going to bed.
“Remember your perceptions of sleep are unreliable. When you think you’ve slept badly, chances are you’ve still had a few decent hours. So don’t turn sleep into another job, something you are ‘succeeding’ or ‘failing’ at.”- Dr Graham Law- Sleep Expert.
“Many of us think if we have anything short of an eight-hour block of blissful, uninterrupted sleep, we’ve slept badly.”- Dr Michael Feld- Sleep Specialist.
In fact, did you know we ALL wake several times between our sleep stages? This is normal. Remind yourself of this, and feel relaxed about it.
Turn your focus to how grateful you are to be safe in your bed, notice how comfortable your mattress feels, gently adjust your pillows, perhaps place one under your knees and allow your hips to go heavy.. focus on how lucky you are to have a cosy, snuggly bed to sleep in.
Have a partner who snores?
I have two words for you my friends.. EAR PLUGS!
They will literally change your life.
The silicone variety moulds into the outer ear rather than fitting inside your ear, and they work wonders! (Not that I would know personally would I Paul?! LOL!!!)
Sleeping next to a partner who snores can really impact your ability to sleep, not just because of the sound, but also the cortisol hormone bursts you experience from the repeated shock of the noise. It can be very unsettling, so don't put up with it, get some earplugs.
There's a host of other research that can help…
meditation before sleep, limiting alcohol and caffeine, eating or avoiding certain foods.
I think amongst all of this though, what shines through, is that when we really want something and bring intention to getting it, this is where we can go seeking to find the solution that works for us personally.
So if you really want to feel energised, relaxed and happy, look at your sleep and appreciate the gift it is to our mind & body... see if you are getting enough, and enjoy the benefits!
WATCH OUR VIDEO TO SEE NAOMI’S FAVOURITE SLEEP RITUALS!
Create a soothing sleep sanctuary
The feeling of freshly misted, crisp white sheets..
Make your space restful by diffusing relaxing essential oils and winding down by candle light.
Naomi Whitfeld is the Founder & CEO of iKOU.
Her passion for inspiring others to live a life of Wellness & Joy shines through in everything she does.
As an intuitive Aromatherapist, Naomi incorporates Mind & Body benefits into all she creates, believing we respond best when we treat as a 'whole".
Winner of the Telstra Business Womens Award for "Entrepreneur of the Year", Naomi has a particular interest in supporting busy women to enjoy rituals of self-care on a daily basis.