This year, I’m changing stuff up a little. I’m doing this new thing, I think it’s called prioritising :)
I decided that on a daily basis I have three non-negotiable priorities:
#1 Eat AMAZING food (after you’re done with this go check out my insta – foodgasm central!)
#2 Exercise – even if it’s as short as 10mins. Walking doesn’t count.
#3 Get a good night’s sleep. Every night.
That’s it. Everything else comes second. If I get these three right, I can totally handle everything else.
Since this post is specifically about sleep let me elaborate why sleep is so important. First of all, bad sleep often leads to bad food choices the next day. Similar to pre-race carb loading, except there’s no race. Secondly, sleep is probably the single most important thing you can do to improve your overall wellbeing – it deals with a ton of functions from muscle recovery to draining waste from your brain. Sounds pretty crucial to me!
So without further ado let me introduce you to my favourite sleep hacks, starting with the highest impact:
Screens Off at Least 45mins Before Bedtime
Screen exposure is by far the biggest disruptor of sleep. This is because most screens emit blueish light which is melatonin-suppressive. Don’t forget that “screen” doesn’t just mean your laptop – it’s your mobile, your tablet etc. As an extra aid I downloaded this little piece of magic called f.lux onto my laptop a few years ago and what this does is gradually change the tint of your screen from blue to yellow as it gets later into the evening. Totally recommend it, especially if you often find yourself laptoping late into the night.
For a long time I was a non-believer in curtains. In fact, this one time I wanted to wash the curtains I had but they didn’t come off so I just pulled the whole thing out of the wall with brute force. Yep, that’s how I roll (I hope my landlord isn’t reading this). Anyway, obviously I couldn’t get it to go back in so for over a year I had no curtains – and I just loved waking up to natural light. Except I kept coming across claims that full-on blackout curtains are a must for good sleep. So I got some just to try and after the long curtain-free break I could certainly feel the difference – I woke up more rested than usual. I got mine from amazon.
Drinks – Yes & No
Mega YES to valerian root infusions. No to black tea, green tea, yerba mate, coffee.
OK to all kinds of herbal infusions, like camomile.
Exercise – Yes & No
Good levels of exercise do contribute to better quality of sleep – as long as it’s not right before bedtime. Restorative/healing yoga pre-bedtime works well.
Reading – Yes & No
Yes to fiction.
No to non-fiction, magazines and anything else that might make your brain want to take notes, remember stuff for later or analyse what you’re reading in some way.
Sleep Induction Mat or Yantra Mat or Bed of Needles (same thing)
This is a great little hack to fall asleep faster and I also find I end up sleeping deeper, i.e. I wake up feeling more rested. I lay on it for around 20mins and just kinda let it do its thing. I also gave one for my dad who has horrible sleeping issues for Christmas and he says it’s helping him too – but he obviously would! Note on this though – if I’m feeling particularly stressed and/or my mind is racing the mat doesn’t really help that much. When it’s particularly tough a combo of reading (fiction, non-fiction keeps me up) and valerian root has a better chance of calming me down and knocking me out.
Lavender is a calming classic – but try other scents to change it up. I find new smells usually have the strongest impact so if you lavender the hell out of your room every day at some point its calming properties are probably going to seriously diminish. I find citronella oil really comforting – it might not make me sleepy but it makes me want to smile which automatically helps disarm any stress and helps me sleep better as a result.
Here’s a sunset at Mont Saint-Michel for You.