Sleep! Do you get enough? Shockingly it was reported that insomnia rose from one in six, to one in four people during the lockdowns of the Covid pandemic. I have had insomnia, in fact I am an insomniac with a recurring sleep problem. I have to manage my sleep hygiene very carefully and the slightest change in my routine can set me off again. And menopause only exacerbates the problem! So I am here on World Sleep Day 2021 to share a few strategies and ideas with you on how to sleep better!
I learnt recently that those of us with various rituals and routines around our sleep are far more likely to suffer from insomnia, rather than making things better, the rituals we feel are essential can create more stress. And it is the stress and worry of 'not being able to sleep' that adds to the very problem we are trying to avoid. We are actually better not to try and sleep! Easier said than done!
From supplements, to podcasts, meditation, limiting blue light and the best bedroom environment, I am going to share below some of the latest research to help improve sleep and tell you which ones have worked for me.
Turn off your phone / iPad etc
Don't watch TV in bed, don't check emails before going to bed, turn off your phone at least an hour before you settle down. Set yourself a 'phone off' time, then set yourself a 'regular bedtime' and stick to it. You don't need the regular reminders of what you should be doing tomorrow or what is the latest gossip on social media, this just fuels stress and more stress affects the quality of our sleep. And the blue light that is emitted from phones and technology disturbs our natural circadian rhythm and suppresses the production of the sleep inducing hormone, melatonin. We all know this but doing it in practice is more of a challenge, however it really does make a difference to the quality of our sleep.
Take a supplement
In order to fall asleep our body and brain needs to relax. Magnesium is known as 'natures tranquilliser' as it helps us to relax. I take Magnesium+ from FutureYou Cambridge, their formulation is gentle on the stomach and helps reduce tiredness, supports bone health and contributes to normal muscle function.
I also love the range of supplements from Lumity. I was sent their Morning and Night Anti-Ageing supplements a while ago and was very impressed with the night supplement, I felt it really did work. And Lumity have now launched a new booster range of supplements, the Restful Nights Booster and the Power On Booster. I was sent the Restful Nights Booster to try. Lumity explain, stress disrupts sleep, and this innovative vegan booster counteracts that with the potent adaptogen holy basil, pumpkin seed oil, magnesium, turmeric and vitamin D3. This supplement supports the nervous system, allowing you to wake after a good night's sleep feeling restored and ready for the day ahead. Another excellent supplement and I definitely found a benefit in adding this to my routine. You can find all the details on the Lumity website here.
Listen to a sleep story
I really love listening to a relaxing sleep story or calm meditation at bedtime, yes it has become part of my sleep ritual but I do think it makes a big difference. I put one EarPod in, and tune into a Podcast, my favourite is Get Sleepy, I use the free podcast but you can sign up to the premium version. I also love Nothing Much Happens, bedtime stories for grown-ups. I use Apple Podcasts and find it really easy to navigate and find what I want.
Take a sleep course
CBT-I (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Insomnia) focuses on the connection between what we think, what we do and how we sleep. CBT-I will explore and identify thoughts, feelings and behaviours that are contributing to your insomnia. You will then be taught how to reframe your misconceptions and challenges in a way that is more conductive to a good nights sleep.
There are various options available, speak to your GP who may be able to refer you for a free NHS provided online course. Or look up The Insomnia Clinic they have some excellent options. I am currently part of a trial for a new app called Stella that aims to educate women about menopause and one of their offerings will be a sleep course based on CBT-I principles and education around sleep hygiene. If you'd like more details or to go on their waiting list for the final release date - then you can go to their website here.
Diet and fresh air
Eat carbohydrates at bedtime! A slow-releasing carbohydrate like oats will keep your body topped up with energy through the night, stop your blood sugar from falling too low and keep you asleep! And carbs also help the amino acid tryptophan to make the hormone melatonin that is essential for good sleep. Other good options for bedtime include a banana, almonds, walnuts, chamomile tea, oatmeal and a milky drink!
Try and get out in the fresh air every day, even a short walk at lunchtime, can really lift our mood and add to feelings of relaxation, lower stress and in turn help us nod off later!
Your sleep environment
Keep your bedroom cool, don't work in your bedroom, banish paperwork and desks, your bedroom should be reserved for sleep and sex. Try to keep your room dark, I have blackout blinds as well as curtains but if we are away then I will use a sleep mask (try the relaxing self-heating masks from Health & Her). And if you suffer from night sweats then consider changing to a wool duvet. I have written about the benefits of wool bedding on my post here and Baavet offer a 20% discount off their wool duvets for readers of my blog.
Anything else I have missed? I try not to get too caught up in rituals and relax about sleep, it really is best not to try too hard but that is easier said than done, the more sleepless nights we have, the more frustrating it gets and the more we get angry with ourselves for not being able to sleep! It is a vicious cycle. You can find more tips for sleep on the World Sleep Day website here.
For me, I keep to a regular bed time and wake up time, I love my wool duvet, I take magnesium and an additional sleep supplement like Lumity and I listen to a sleep story. Mostly it works!
Happy sleep day!
Disclaimer: Lumity gifted me a pack of their Restful Nights Booster and I agreed to share a review on my blog. This blog post uses an affiliate link which means if you follow the link and purchase something from Lumity, I will receive a very small commission which goes towards the cost of running my blog.
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Hi, I’m Michelle and my blog Fifty & Fab is all about my journey into and through my fifties. I share style tips, health and fitness inspiration, I talk about my holidays and days out and I tell you about my beauty regime and my lifestyle. I hope you might pick up a tip or two and get some inspiration!
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