Many of us are stressed especially at this particular time, Christmas came and went, the New Year was sung and welcomed in and suddenly there’s the new worry – “normalcy!” If you are parent, you have got to start getting the children back into a routine, if you are going back to work, the catching up and starting a new can be stressful also. As part of my job as an Holisitc Therapist I also have studied as a Sleep Practitioner, when talking to clients we start to realise that many sleep issues are due to stress, anxiety and an over active mind!
Basically I love my sleep, so the course helped me to learn about the importance of trying to keep to a good routine if nothing else!
Over the years our sleep pattern changes and sometimes bad habits emerge, from having babies to working night shifts we just assume our body and brain will “work it out!” But no, it’s not always the way, so we need to intervene and help our body and brain by working out a plan for improved sleep and it is actually a really important idea to implement – we all need a good sleep, around 8 hours is the goal but that’s not going to work if it’s disjointed, interrupted or inadequate. REM is necessary to us! Sleep is like water WE NEED sleep like we need water, our bodies need to rest, our mind and body needs to calm down and relax, we all know that “zombie” feeling and it’s not a healthy one – everything starts to suffer from our Hair, Skin, Moods and Mental Health.
There’s many factors to include this time of year and we all deal with stress in varying ways but for 9/10 sleep will evade us! And right now sleep is probably the most important thing you do need!
We are now in the full throws of winter so we are enjoying longer days once again, although the sun really CAN help as well. So make sure you get at least 20 minutes of sunshine (when we are lucky enough to enjoy it!) a day! Winter when it’s really cold sends us running indoors to keep warm, eat more fulfilling foods and want to snuggle into a jumper and the fluffiest of socks and blankets – hibernation is the way! But taking advantage of the colder weather and the sunshine can really improve our mood and help refresh our bodies! If you can leave your curtains open so that you wake with the light of the day – thus keeping your brain in it’s cicardian rhythm naturally.
A good way to start getting your *circardian rhythm readjusted is to enjoy a relaxing massage, my lovely clients say the have a much better night’s sleep after the relaxing massages I offer. I know I benefit from Reflexology and sleep like a log after, there is a reason why Massage helps us to manage sleep disorders. It can help with insomnia, falling asleep, and getting deeper sleep. This is because massage stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is in charge of the body’s rest-and-relaxation response, at the same time, massage calms your sympathetic nervous system (the fight-or-flight and stress-response system) that is running on overload for many of us.
*circadian rhythm is your sleep-wake pattern over the course of a 24-hour day. It helps control your daily schedule for sleep and wakefulness.*
A study published in Sleep Science, found massage to be particularly helpful in helping postmenopausal people, who experience high rates of insomnia. Respondents who added massage into their routines self-reported fewer insomnia symptoms as well as overall better life satisfaction. Other studies have found that massage can reduce symptoms among people who experience sleep disorders like narcolepsy and restless leg syndrome.
Though many of the studies are small, there is growing evidence to support the physical and psychological benefits of massage for promoting better quality sleep. That for me speaks volumes and why I love adminstering massage.
What to avoid at night
If you are having trouble sleeping and reach for the brandy, wine etc..this won’t help! It’s important to stop drinking at least 4 hours before bed to prevent sleep disruption! According to the findings, alcohol does allow healthy people to fall asleep quicker and sleep more deeply for a while, but it reduces REM sleep! Cutting out ALL caffeine at least 7 hours before going to bed – this includes HOT Chocolate, Chocolate, Tea and of course Coffee!
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
- Be Mindful. Shortly before bedtime, try a relaxation strategy that incorporates mindfulness, such as yoga, deep breathing, or meditation, all of which boost sleep time and quality.
- Skip Screens. The blue light emitted by digital devices—including TVs, phones, laptops, and tablets—can throw off your body’s internal clock, so avoid them before bedtime. Finding a tech-free way to wind down can help soothe stress.
- Sip Chamomile Tea. This herb can help lower anxiety, making it easier to fall asleep. There are many Tisanes,that can aid relaxation and I particularly love the Clipper Infusion Marchand de Sable Bio and Elephant Infusion relaxation et anti-stress (which is new to me and I love it!)
- Take a Hot Bath or Shower. A pre-bedtime soak is relaxing. Plus, going from warm water into a cooler bedroom will cause your body temperature to drop, naturally making you feel sleepy.
- Do Some Leg Work. While exercising right before bed can sometimes keep you awake, gentle leg exercises are unlikely to negatively affect your sleep. Moves like leg lifts and squats help bring flood flow down to your legs; interestingly, this can have a soothing effect and make it easier to drift off.
- Count Sheep. It might sound a little silly, but this actually works. The reason? Keeping your brain focused on one thing helps you power down. If counting sheep isn’t for you, try focusing on your breathing, consciously taking deep breaths in and out, until you feel calmer.
- Picture Yourself Asleep. By envisioning yourself in a peaceful sleep, you’ll instantly put yourself in a state of relaxation. For extra calm, clench and release your muscles, starting with your face and working down to your feet.
- Work Out Early. Exercise is a great stress reliever and has been shown to improve the quality of sleep, particularly for insomniacs. But make sure your more intense workouts aren’t too close to bedtime. If you find that your treadmill runs are keeping you awake at night, exercise at least three hours before you turn in.
- Worry Earlier in the Day. When your mind is racing with concerns while you’re trying to fall asleep, that can make it nearly impossible to drift off. Instead, dedicate 15 minutes during the day to process these thoughts. Writing a to-do list or thinking about solutions can be a healthy way to deal with stress and prevent it from interfering with sleep later.
Start a Relaxing Ritual
I love my bedtime ritual – I start the diffuser in the bedroom with a relaxing blend of essential oils and I enjoy a relaxing wash and a face cleansing routine, although I do have a cool face wash (as I find that helps the late night hot flush!) then I will use Rose Water to cleanse and a night time relaxing face mask. Followed by a few stretches next to and in bed add lavender oil around my pulse points and a spritz with a pillow spray.
I don my Weighted Relaxing eye pillow for 10/15 minutes (depending on the time!) and just breath…..in and out nice and slowly and evenly for a few minutes. Above it mentions a warm bath to cool bedroom – I have to say keeping a cool bedroom is one of the best things! The snuggle effect works wonders!
*Some Fitness watches have a Breathe Facililty it is something that could help if you are not very sure about how long to inhale and exhale….there are a few Hints & Tips Here if you would like to know more.
I love anything that aids relaxation and our feet definitely are the recipients to helping with sleep – a massage with a foot balm is a lovely way to finish the day before you tuck yourself in.
If this is an idea that appeals to you then why not look at Natura_Emporium or Dr Nichola PhD Etsy shop? She makes all her own products which are waterless, non toxic and vegan.
Dr Nichola makes The Sleep Easy balm an aromatherapy balm containing 6 calming and relaxing essential oils in a blend of vegan waxes and butters. Massage into your pulse points (neck, wrists and temples), but also works wonders when massaged into your feet. Not only is the foot massage relaxing, your feet are soft and the essential oils are absorbed faster in foot skin. It’s a win win all over.
Follow the link to find all Dr Nichola’s magical lotions and potions.
I hope that you find something that can help here that can kick start your new sleep regime! However, if you just want to have a chat with me about your sleep and stress issues, then just drop me a message and we can work out a time to have a proper chat as we would here in the treatment room… If you are reading this and not a client the same applies!
Here’s to a Happy 2023 and some lovely restful nights to help us power through the year!