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Please don’t hate me, but I am that person who usually manages to fall asleep as soon as soon as their head hits the pillow. But I rarely sleep easy simply because sleep often falls so far down my list of priorities.
However, getting a good night’s sleep is vital to our physical and mental wellbeing.
For example, getting a good nights sleep can help to lower your blood pressure through pure relaxation and in turn help to reduce stress.
Whenever I have a race coming up I often feel stressed an anxious anyway, it’s almost become part of my preparation routine! As a result I don’t tend to sleep very well the night before and I wake up feeling panicked and stressed. I start to worry about tiny, tiny details (the night before the Leeds Half Marathon I dreamt that I forgot my FitBit and that I wasn’t allowed to start without it) and then I end up laying awake going through every minor detail again in my head.
Then there is the fact that sleep can help you manage your diet and repair itself naturally. No pills required!
Let’s start with diet – although getting a good nights sleep won’t help you to lose weight on it’s own, the fact that when we’re sleep deprived we crave high calorie foods and often over eat can have an adverse effect on our waist lines. Often when people think they are nailing the diet and exercise but are still unable to lose weight, it is because they are not getting enough sleep and although they’re giving their body what it needs food wise – it is only needing that diet because it is deprived of rest.
And then there’s the fact that sleep helps your body to repair itself thanks to the extra protein molecules it produces.
That is why sleep is such a big part of my ‘Reset Day‘ routine, that’s why when I need to concentrate on ‘Raising my Vibrations‘ that I switch off, sleep in and make sure that my nighttime routine is on point!
But what can you do if you struggle with getting to sleep or staying asleep once you have dozed off? Well in the same way that a lack of sleep can cause stress, too much stress can cause a lack of sleep! So you remember that story I told you above about my pre-race anxiety before the Leeds Half this year? Well that was partly down to myself because I was stressed and anxious before my head hit the pillow – I had piled on the pressure to go faster, to be better and to ‘smash it’ and that in turn ruined my sleep.
Worrying about keeps your mind active in the same way as being active or excited does.
But sleep detaches you emotionally from situations so one way to deal with pre-sleep stress is tell yourself you will be better placed to deal with things in the morning, that nothing can change now in this moment and that you will feel better about things in the morning.
I don’t want to sound like a broken record – but what we consume can massively effect our vibrations and our wellbeing. When we neglect our wellbeing we start to struggle with the simplest of human tasks including sleeping.
I have definitely been guilty of drinking too much caffeine, eating too late and having one too many G&Ts before bedtime.
I used to be one of those people that drank coffee all day, every day in the office and then on a night I’d wonder why I couldn’t sleep or why I’d have broken sleep. Whilst caffeine has many offers many health benefits, it can also bring with it anxiety, increase blood pressure and insomnia … all of the things that sleep can help improve.
These days I rarely have more than two coffee’s per day and never drink pop (or soda) on an evening, although we can’t tell, caffeine remains in our system for around 5-hours after consumption and therefore we should aim to not have any caffeine (hot drinks, energy drinks, pop) for around 5-hours before we intend to sleep. The same rule can be applied to food and alcohol.
But the guaranteed way to improve your quality of sleep is to get a routine.
Each evening I follow the same routine to let my body and brain know that I am winding down ready to sleep. I start off by tidying the day away – putting on the dishwasher, tidying down the worktops, making sure that laundry is put in the wash bag and not left on the floor…
I’m a huge believer in the saying;
“Tidy room, tidy mind”
I like to keep my bedroom clean & tidy (I always make sure the bed is made every day) so that I always have somewhere to retreat to and relax at the end of every day.
In another room I like to be prepared for the next day, especially if I know that I am going to be short on time when I wake up. The night before a race for example I always make sure that I have all my kit, that I am prepared for anything (that I have plasters, inhalers, painkillers) and that my FitBit is fully charged!
There is a lot of information out there on how to improve sleep and how to sleep easy on a night but I think the basics are pretty clear – preparation is key!