How to sleep better

I luuuuurve sleep. But if I'm stressed it's the first thing to go.  I just can't turn my brain off when I turn out the light even if I feel tired and there's few things worse than 'the fear' when you realise that you're wide away but have loads to do the next day. Hate it! 

The thing is, we all need sleep. Without it we would literally stop functioning but despite that, it is so often neglected and pushed down the priority list. And I get it, there's loads of awesome things to be done in the nighttime and being sucked into a Netflix series does often result in time at night being sucked away. And it's understandable that when we're at work every day we want to have fun when we can! Burning the candle at both ends is something that I'm very good at doing if I'm not careful.  For many of us, even when we’re really tired the reality is that we just don’t want to go to bed early when we get so little time at home after work to be with our house mates or partners.

And we live in an over-stimulated, hyped up world where many of us run around totally sleep deprived - literally ‘rest-less.’ We don't feel the natural call to sleep like we used to. How many of us say we're going to bed and then scroll through social media feeds for another 30 minutes? *Puts hand up*

But why should we care? Is sleep really that important?! YES! Sleep is ESSENTIAL for our wellbeing.

Here are 5 reasons to get more shut eye:

1. IMMUNITY. Want to fight off those winter germs? Sleep is the main time that your immune system gets a boost so you're more likely to get sick without it. Research also links higher rates of infection, diabetes and even cancers!

2. BETTER MEMORY. Sleep is when we consolidate memories especially through dreams at the end of your sleep cycle. Good sleep will also help you think sharper.

3. DIET. When we're sleep deprived we're found to be hungrier the next day with less signals to the brain to tell us we're full. I definitely find this! We often grab high sugar snacks searching for energy. When we're not tired we're more likely to reach for healthier choices. 

4. IMPROVED CREATIVITY. Most of us have been in those meetings when we're tired and expected to come up with a brilliant idea - well it's much harder to do when we're tired. Sleep strengthens the emotional part of the brain which can spur creative process!

5. HAPPINESS. Lack of sleep can really impact your general sense of wellbeing, it's closely linked to depression so speak to your doctor if you're not sleeping and feeling more than just down in the dumps. 

Instead of just suffering from insomnia like I used to do I thought I'd research the easiest tips for better sleep and share them with you. 

Tips for better sleep: 

1. Get into a sleep schedule. Make sure you're decreasing screen time before getting into bed. Blue light disrupts our natural sleep rhythms. Avoid stimulants like caffeine and alcohol. Try and aim to go to bed and wake up around the same time to put in a good routine - yup, they say even at weekends!

2. Exercise daily. Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity. Exercise at any time of day, but not at the expense of your sleep.

3. Assess your room. The experts say we should be keeping our bedroom confined to two things, sex and sleep. So take your TVs, ipads, phones etc etc etc out of this space to set the tone right for hitting the hay. Make sure your bedroom isn’t too hot or cold, and try make it free from noise if possible (in London that’s always a bit hard). that can disturb your sleep. Also, block out the light. Make your room as dark as possible - I wear an eye mask because my room is never really dark.

4. Think about temperature: If you’re like me and wake up in the night feeling cold it’s not because the temperature outside has dropped, it’s your temperature inside! Your core temperature drops just like a car engine after a long journey. Keeping your room around 18 degrees will cool the body down quicker and bring on a sense of drowsiness; and bizarrely putting a hot water bottle at your feet will redistribute heat from your core to your extremities. Cold feet are also proven to keep you awake longer!

5. Empty your brain. If you're anxious try a guided meditation or journaling your thoughts before you turn out the lights. It stops your brain from whirring on constant when you turn off the light. It also stops you worrying that you’re going to forget something in the morning. I like these guys

5. Do the 4-7-8. This technique developed by Dr. Andrew Weil is MAGICAL.  I use it during any stressful times because it kicks the body into the ‘parasympathetic nervous system’ which is the relation side. Switching off adrenaline and cortisol.

All you have to do is lightly touch the ridge of tissue behind your top front teeth with your tongue, exhale completely, and then start breathing the following:

- Breathe in through your nose quietly for a count of 4

- Hold your breath for a count of seven

- Blow air out through your mouth for a count of 8

- Repeat

6. Trick yourself with reverse psychology: Researchers at Glasgow university found that reverse psychology can genuinely help people fall asleep. While one study group was left to their own devices, the other was told to stay awake for as long as possible but banned from moving around or watching TV. Yup, the ones who tried to stay awake nodded off first!

So there we go, some simply ways to help us get to sleep better. What do you think? Have you ever suffered from insomnia? Hit me up with any tips that have helped you.

Love Harri x