"Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together”
- Thomas Dekker
Improve Sleep and Stress Less
One of the best things you can regularly do to stress less is to get a good night’s sleep.
Think in general about how much harder work and your life can feel after a night or two of little or bad sleep. It feels harder to focus, and little problems seem insurmountable. You feel more stressed throughout the day and, it only gets worse if you end up sleeping badly for several days in a row.
Sleep is a powerful stress reducer.
Continued sleep deprivation can have profound consequences on your physical health. It can increase your cortisol levels and, blood pressure - decrease your glucose tolerance, and place you into fight-or-flight mode, all of which are linked to increased health risks like diabetes, heart attacks, and strokes.
Healthy adults on average need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.
Sleep is a necessary part for a long and healthy life - and it is important to invest in ensuring you get quality sleep. Quality sleep can make us feel calmer, mentally focused, and emotionally strong during the day. There are many things you can do to improve and optimize your natural 24-hour sleep/wake cycle.
What is a sleep ritual?
A sleep ritual is a set of behaviours and a planned period of time before bed where you purposely relax and gear down.
To help you get optimal sleep you can start by establishing a sleep ritual to wind down and activate the parasympathetic nervous system which restores the body to a calm and composed state.
You can’t control exactly how well or how long you sleep, but a sleep ritual helps make good sleep more likely.
Tips to develop and implement your own sleep ritual
Decide on bedtime in advance and create a transition period of 30 – 60 minutes ahead of where you start to get your brain and body to start relaxing.
Keep a regular schedule, try to go to bed and wake up at the same times. With a regular schedule, your body will know when to release calming hormones before bed and stimulating ones to wake up.
Limit your caffeine to the morning with no caffeinated drinks after 2 p.m.
Caffeine is a stimulant that stays in your body for 8–10 hours after consuming. An afternoon coffee could still leave you tossing and turning at 10 p.m. Wake up and drink more coffee and, the cycle starts again.
Remember that caffeine sources also include black and green tea, energy drinks, sodas etc.
Try: chamomile tea, valerian or *rooibos tea as a relaxing alternative.
*If you have not heard of Rooibos tea, it is a tea grown in South Africa and is also know as 'redbush' tea. Growing up in South Africa it has always been one of my favourite teas. It contains magnesium and calcium, both minerals can help play a role in a good night's sleep.
Enjoy an Epsom salts bath before bed
Epsom salts contain magnesium, which calms the body and promotes sleep. This also helps overall recovery and will ease aches and pains.
You can also try Lavender – known to calm, soothe and relieve stress.