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  • Writer's pictureRachel Ray

Ten Top Tips To Sleeping Better

“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake you know”

Ernest Hemmingway

Did You Know . . .

· A giraffe only needs 1.9 hours of sleep a day whereas a brown bat needs 19.9 hours a day

· Two thirds of a cat’s life is spent asleep

· Humans spend 1/3 of their life sleeping

· Humans are the only mammals that willingly delay sleep

According to the Sleep Council, 40% of people suffer with sleep issues and sleep deprivation costs the UK economy £40.2 billion annually. Worryingly 20% of road deaths are related to fatigue.

A good nights sleep is vitally important for health and wellbeing. Not getting enough sleep can affect you in many ways. Aside from the obvious tiredness and fatigue you may experience lack of energy, irritability, reduced work performance, difficulty concentrating and it may put a strain on your relationships.

There are many factors that can affect your quality of sleep but making some small adjustments could make all the difference.

Ten Top Tips To Improve Your Sleep

1. Keep to regular hours aiming to go to bed and get up at the same time each. Avoid or limit daytime naps as this can interfere with your night-time sleep pattern

2. Create a restful sleeping environment in your bedroom.

- Think about the colours in your room. Are they calm and restful or strong and stimulating?

- Consider a blackout blind to make your room as dark as possible or use an eye mask to reduce the amount of light that might keep you awake

- Reduce the clutter in your room keeping it tidy and clean

- Aim for a room temperature that is neither too hot or too cold. The recommended temperature is around 16-18 C

3. Leave technology at the bedroom door. Avoid having televisions and computers or phones in the bedroom. Enjoy using these in other rooms in the house but make your bedroom about sleeping

4. Is your bed or mattress and pillows affecting how you sleep? The Sleep Council recommends you change your mattress every 8 years. Visit a bed specialist for advice and to try out different options

5. Exercise. This can help to reduce stress and a regular practice can help you to improve your sleep

6. Get out in the fresh air. Studies show that people who get adequate natural daylight tend to sleep better at night

7. Cut down on stimulants such as caffeine especially in the evening as they will prevent you from falling asleep easily and affect your deep sleep

8. Be conscious of how much you are indulging with food and alcohol especially late at night. Nothing worse than trying to sleep on a full stomach. And whilst alcohol can make you feel sleepy it is likely to disrupt your sleep later in the night

9. Try to set a routine for going to bed to aid relaxation

- Consider a warm bath to relax you perhaps with some nice bubble bath or essential oils

- Aim to switch your screens/technology off an hour before bedtime and instead listen to some quiet music or read a book.

- Consider using a mindfulness app like CALM or Headspace to relax your mind. Many such apps have sleep stories which are a nice way to fall off to sleep

10. If you have a busy mind and struggle to switch off, try journaling before bed. Write down details about your day, capture your thoughts, make a list for the next day. Leave it on the paper instead of in your head.

This Is What I Do . . .

I went through period of sleeplessness, struggling both to fall asleep and to get a good long nights sleep.

These are the tweaks that I made to my routine and in general, my sleep is much better;

1. We have a television in our bedroom and would mindlessly watch stuff until falling asleep. Whilst the television hasn’t been removed yet, it doesn’t get switched on at bedtime. Even my husband commented on how much better he slept without it

2. I leave my phone downstairs. It’s too tempting just to look at message and social media and fill your head with stuff when you need to be relaxing. It’s all still there in the morning

3. I aim to get to bed around 10pm and really enjoy reading a book for half an hour which is something I rarely find time for in the day.

4. I don’t use an eye mask but I do use earplugs as I found the dawn chorus was waking me up!

5. I love a good proper coffee and didn’t think I drank too much. But I do! Now I have one real coffee around 11am and then switch to a really good decaf version. Currently I’m enjoying Millicano.

Sleep and Reflexology

A couple of comments from clients of mine following their reflexology treatments . . .

“Wow, did I sleep deep last night! I didn’t want to get up this morning at all which is very unlike me!” SW
“A big shout-out to Rachel for the foot reflexology last week. Slept so well for the first time in months! Can’t thank you enough!” SP

There have been several research studies using reflexology to aid sleep in a variety of different patient groups along with studies looking at the effect on pain, insomnia and fatigue. A meta-analysis (1) stated that ‘foot reflexology is a useful nursing intervention to relieve fatigue and promote sleep.

A research project (2) that looked into what reflexology does in improving sleep, showed that there are changes in the activity of brainwaves. The changes correspond with an increased level of sleepiness and of going into the deep level of non-rapid eye movement sleep.

If you're struggling with your sleep, why not give reflexology a try

N.B. Reflexologists do not diagnose, cure or treat specific conditions. Reflexology is not a substitute for medical treatment and if you have serious concerns about your sleep you should consult your GP

References Reflexions Magazine June 2018

Research References

(1) Effects of Reflexology on the Pain-Insomnia-Fatigue Disturbance Cluser of Breast Cancer Patients During Adjuvant Radiaton Therapy. Tarrasch R, Carmel-Neiderman NN, Ben-Ami S, Kaufman B, Pfeffer R, Ben-David M, Gamus D J Altern Complement Med. 2018 Jan;24(1):62-68

(2) Reflexology and polysomnography: Changes in cerebral wave activity induced by reflexology promote N1 and N2 sleep stages N. Esmel-Esmel, E. Thomás-Esmel, M. Tous-Andreu, A. Bové-Ribé, M. Jiménez-Herrera Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, Volume 28, August 2017, Pages 54-64

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