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SLEEP HYGIENE TIPS

Poor sleep quality and quantity can be traced back to bad habits in a lot of cases. The team at Zest Pharmacy would like to share some of our tips for improving your sleep and creating good habits - ie. improving sleep hygiene.


The benefits of a good night's sleep are endless and include: improved mood, reduced stress, decreased inflammation in the body and a stronger immune system.


Introduce good habits that will eventually overtake and eliminate bad sleep habits.


1. Bathing Before Bed:

Why not start taking a bath or shower before bedtime as part of a regular routine. There is good evidence that this can help sleep onset and sleep efficiency. Add some bath salts containing essential oils to really help relax the mind and get yourself into a state of relaxation.


2. Light Stretching Before Bedtime:

You should start introducing light stretching before bedtime. This will help the body to relax leading to a quicker sleep onset. Make sure to keep it light and avoid any strenuous stretching. Focus on your breathing also - take slow deep breaths. This will activate your parasympathetic nervous system - "rest & digest".


3. Eliminate Technology:

Lost the phone from the bedroom. Checking Instagram, catching up on Facebook, seeing what's trending on Twitter, WhatsApp'ing your fiends with all the gossip from social media leaves you with a million things on your mind before you go to bed. Human Nature means we will compare our lives to those we see on social media - which can leave people overwhelmed, stressed and anxious.


4. Remove Caffeine:

Caffeine is a stimulant that will increase alertness, it's found in many of our favourite drinks such as coffee & tea. The effects of caffeine can range from 2-9 hours, depending on the person, but on average the effects last for 5-6 hours. This means you should be avoiding caffeine intake from the evening time onwards. Excessive caffeine consumption can lead to a rapid heartbeat, excessive urination and anxiety/nervousness as too much adrenaline is released. Look at the caffeine content of the energy drink before consumption.


5. Introduce Meditation:

Sleep Meditation focuses on an anchor - usually the breath. By focusing on your breathing, you shift your attention away from over thinking & it helps relax the mind. Typically sleep stories, available on Apps/Youtube/CD's describe scenes in nature in vivid detail, from colour to smells. This allows the listener to focus on the present image in their mind - not allowing the mind to drift into the past or wander into the future. Sleep Meditation can take as little as 5 minutes and it is very much worthwhile. If you haven't tried this method - then what have you to lose. Our advice is to embrace it.


6. Our Circadian System:

This is also known as the "sleep-wake cycle". External factors have a bearing on our circadian cycle. Darkness at night tells the brain that it is time to be tired, while light in the morning can "wake" the body up, allowing people to feel more alert. See out natural light from the early morning, make sure you seek the outdoors where possible (skip strolling through your phone and take a stroll during your lunch hour). Conversely at night, dim the lights and avoid staring at screens (these emit blue light which is not good for you). Give this a go and watch the difference.


7. Magnesium - the Relaxation Mineral:

Magnesium is an important mineral to include in your diet as it is not made naturally in the body. Sources include green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruits such as bananas and raspberries. Magnesium plays a big role in a number of cellular reactions in your body - but one of its major benefits is its ability to help the body and mind relax. It works to relax muscles (Magnesium is lost by profuse sweating hence cramping after a big workout) as well as the mind (through the GABA channels).


8. Power of Positive Thinking:

Often times people go to bed with negative thoughts on their mind. They may be worried about a meeting in work, an appraisal with their boss, their physical appearance etc. These thoughts can multiply and grow legs keeping you awake at night - 99% of the time these thoughts are not even based on reality. Change your mindset - select positive thoughts and repeat them over and over. You CANNOT change certain events (ie. the impending presentation) but you CAN choose the way you look at these events (I am prepared, I know this subject, people are rooting for me). You will feel better within yourself and the nights spent mulling things over will be replaced with a healthy nights sleep.


So with all of the above, it is time to take your sleep hygiene properly. A good nights sleep can change your life so let's do everything possible to make that happen.


For more information come in and ask our expert team for help!


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