I’m a mother, nutritional therapist and author who has been sharing recipes to help you get the glow back for the last 8 years...
I’m a terrible sleeper. People are often surprised when I admit that. And yeah, it feels like a confession, because some nights I get quite anxious about how little sleep I’m getting and it feels like I’m failing, somehow. That attitude isn’t conducive to relaxing at all, unsurprisingly!
Honestly, some nights I’m so tired I’ll go to bed at 9.30pm (my teenage self is horrified by this) and then I’ll still be tossing and turning at 11pm. It’s normal for me to stir at the tiniest noise at night because I’m such a light sleeper. It’s so frustrating!
On the plus side, naturally being a poor sleeper means I’ve had a lot of experience on what works and what doesn’t. Here are my 6 favourite sleep-enhancing treats, especially for you…
I’m terrible for looking at my laptop or phone (sometimes both 🙈 🙊 ) in the evening, so I’m often thinking about work right up until the moment I’m in my PJs. So, to balance this bad habit out I have a notepad on my bedside table where I jot down all the things I need to do tomorrow. Getting my thoughts onto paper is like a major mental refresh – it means I don’t have to think about them any more so I can let go of work for the day and sleep.
This move is a doubly calming: reading a book gets me out of my head, while lying on my bed with my legs resting up the wall is an ultra-relaxed version of the ‘legs up the wall’ yoga pose that relaxes the nervous system. At the moment I’m reading Lunar Abundance by Ezzie Spencer which is all about how the cycle of the moon affects your body.
I swear by a triple threat, herbally. First, a magnesium blend supplement – magnesium is a proven sleep aid and most of us are deficient in it. Second, I put a dab of Bach Rescue Night essence, a combination of flower essences like rock rose, cherry plum and clematis. Third, I spritz This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray all over my bed. It’s a blend of calming herbs like lavender, camomile and vetivert, and the fragrance is divine.
Focusing on the breath is meditative and some people say the 4-7-8 breathing technique, developed by Dr Andrew Weil can help them fall asleep in under a minute. I wouldn’t go that far! But it’s definitely effective.
Here’s what you do: inhale through your nose for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 7, then do a big long whooshing exhale through your mouth for 8. Practising this helps me switch off when my mind is racing like crazy. It’s like a natural tranquiliser for the nervous system.
I tried a digital sleep tracker a while ago when I was sleeping really badly and was pleased (if a bit surprised) to discover that even though I wasn’t getting much shut-eye, the quality of my sleep was pretty efficient. That actually made me feel better about being awake at random hours, and now I stress about those periods of wakefulness less.
Who am I kidding? Most days Shay is my alarm clock! But on the rare days my baby sleeps past 7am, I have an alarm clock which simulates the sunrise. The light is a softer way to wake up than a noisy alarm; it starts to come up 15 minutes before 7am so I gradually stir from my sleep. When I wake up a few minutes before my alarm I feel happy and ahead of the day. I hope it works for you, too.