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Sleep Secrets of the Well-Rested

Sleep secrets of the well-rested
Tips to help you drift happily off into the land of nod.

Welcome to September - we have Organic September and World Reflexology Week to celebrate later in the month, plus I have my holiday to look forward to, so it's going to be a busy one, and I'm looking forward to it all.

To cope with a busy and joyful life, we need quality sleep.

There's nothing like a good night's sleep to leave you feeling calm, energised and ready to face the world. Now I'm super lucky, I rarely have trouble drifting off, but for many of my clients, it's not always as easy as climbing into bed and turning the lights out. Stress, diet, artificial light, children and noise pollution are just some factors that can stand between you and a blissful night's sleep.

The average person needs between seven to nine hours of sleep, and a night or two of poor sleep won't harm you. However, long-term sleep deprivation can affect your health and make you moody, irritable, lack concentration, gain weight, and struggle with decisions.

So to help, here are some tips to help you drift off into the land of nod.

Wake up at the same time.

For years now, I wake up early in the week to go to the gym, and I still wake up at roughly the same time on weekends too! (I do sneak in an hour's lie-in). Haphazard sleep-wake patterns and weekend lie-ins confuse the body clock and delay melatonin production, leading to lighter sleep.

Setting the alarm to wake up at the same time every day, even at weekends, could improve your sleep. If you get up at similar times every day, your body responds with the regular release of melatonin before you get into bed, which aids restful sleep.

Keep it cool.

Have you ever noticed that you feel sleepy afterwards when you have a warm bath before bedtime? A human's core body temperature naturally cools in the hours before bedtime. In contrast, skin temperatures of the hands and feet increase. Scientists hypothesise that immersing the body in warm water aids this natural temperature regulation process, improving sleep. Researchers have dubbed this phenomenon the "warm bath effect."

In the same way, a warm bedroom might seem cosy, but in order to initiate sleep, our bodies experience a drop in temperature, meaning a cooler bedroom is essential to aid the sleep process.

Love your hands.

Our hands are a maze of reflexology pressure points. Adjusting our bedtime routine to include some hand massage can help release tension from your body. Massage also eases away tiredness and aches and pains. It allows circulation to assist our lymph system (which removes toxins built up over the day).

Try it for yourself - the ends of our fingers represent the head area in reflexology. Apply pressure in small circular motions to each fingertip, in turn, to help release any tension you are holding from the neck upwards and calm down your mind.

Aromatherapy as a sleep aid.

Essential oils help people to relax their bodies and minds, which leads to deeper sleep and reduced fatigue. Many people prefer essential oils to sleep pills because they are natural and don't cause drowsiness or other side effects typically associated with sleep medication.

Lavender essential oil is one of the most popular essential oil because it soothes the body, mind, and soul. And it is the perfect sleeping aid as well; just a few drops of lavender essential oil can take you to dreamland.

Lavender and Sweet Marjoram in an essential oil blend help reduce the mental tension that keeps you awake at night.

Pop a few drops in a diffuser and switch it on an hour before bedtime, mix with a lotion and massage into your skin, or add a tablespoon of milk and stir into your bedtime bath.

Choose sleepy colours.

Every room in our home has a specific purpose. As we walk in, we begin to associate the space with the activities it's meant for. So, for this reason, we should promote an environment in the bedroom that signals sleep and rest. Research has found that reds and yellows increase anxiety compared to blues and greens. In general, softer muted colours like greys, pinks and purples are neutral and promote tranquillity.

See, there's a reason why the therapy room is pale green with purple accents!

Breathe yourself to sleep.

Stuart Sanderman, the founder of Breathpod, recommends a tranquillising breath technique to help you get to sleep with ease. His advice is to inhale through your nose for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of six, exhale through pursed lips for a count of eight and then repeat for four rounds. The aim is to maximise the rest and digest (parasympathetic response) and slow the mind and the system. In this state, we feel relaxed and calm and can sleep easily.

"Go to bed and you’ll feel better tomorrow" is the human version of “Did you try turning it off and on again?”.

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