National Sleep Awareness Week takes place 3-10 March. Leading health and energy expert Oliver Gray is back and tells us all we need to know about catching those all-important ‘Z’s’.
Watch the highlights from Oliver's sleep 'webinar' here:
We spend roughly a third of our lives in bed, so making good sleep a priority is key, no matter how hectic or stressful your life is. Here I take you through some facts relating to sleep and offer some simple steps you can take to achieve better quality sleep so that you awake feeling refreshed and energised.
How are you sleeping?
Research of over 2,000 people, from energiseYou, finds the large majority of us score less than 50% on the drivers that help us achieve a good night’s sleep. If you want to check how you score click here to complete my free online health and energy check.
The research suggests that a potent energy-zapping mix of factors, such as technology overload and work-life imbalance is causing sleep deprivation, leaving many of us working on empty and feeling pressured in all areas of life.
Good sleep is a habit. Not sleeping well can also become a habit. If you are not sleeping well it can take time to create a new good sleep habit. The time will depend on how bad your sleep problem is and your commitment to making positive changes.
Here are my top 7 habits to help you achieve better quality sleep:
1. Create a regular routine
Go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time at least four-to-five days per week. Aim for early to bed, early to rise e.g. in bed by 10.15pm up by 6.30am. If you feel you need more sleep, go to bed earlier but still get up at the same time.
2. Healthy nutrition
- Avoid a big meal in the evening, e.g. pasta or curry. Also avoid refined carbohydrates, e.g. biscuits and sweets
- Avoid going to bed on an empty stomach
- Include foods in your diet that are high in Tryptophan (an amino acid that promotes sleep) e.g. almonds, turkey, bananas, spinach, soya products, oats and eggs.
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes per day. This could include fast walking. Morning exercise is best, but if you exercise in the evening you need more calming exercise such as light cardio, light resistance work, Yoga, Tai Chi, or Pilates.
4. The perfect sleeping environment
- Keep your bedroom dark, cool (if necessary, window slightly open), clean, clutter-free and quiet (wear soft ear plugs if needed).
5. Create positive associations to sleep
- Keep your bed for sleep, reading, listening to relaxation music and sex. The mind and body will then create a positive association with only these things and the bed.
6. Calming yourself ready sleep
Use the evening to calm your mind and body down from the day’s activities and stimulation. Relax before sleep by having a warm bath, reading, having a massage from your partner or listening to relaxing music or meditation. Most importantly, wind down 30 minutes before sleep.
7. Bed, pillow and duvet
Ensure you have a good bed and pillow and that your duvet is the right tog for the time of year, e.g. light in the summer, medium in the spring/autumn and heavy in the winter.
Oliver Gray is the author of ENERGISE YOU – The ultimate health and energy plan. His book focuses on bringing together all the best information on health, energy and happiness in one easy-to-implement system for change.