One thing to know about me is that I love my sleep. I mean Really. Love. My. Sleep
Just like you probably.
And just like you I have spent many nights awake wondering if this is how it’s going to be for the rest of my life. Because nothing will put me in a bad mood like a bad sleep can. Nothing feels like it has the capacity to make my whole day turn to s**t like a night of tossing and turning. And I’m guessing it’s like that for a lot of you too.
Because of my deep appreciation and absolute gratefulness for the sweet elixir of sleep I have spent the last decade honing and refining the skill of sleep , and thankfully, through much trial and error I now enjoy gorgeous sleep almost every single night. I’d love to share what I’ve learnt with you so that you too can learn what you need to do to get the best sleep that you possibly can.
I’ve lots of tips to share with you, both here and in my other blogs but the first thing that we need to understand and get to grips with is the massive impact on how we sleep is down to what’s known as our body clock.
So, what is our body clock?
Your circadian rhythm (also known as your sleep/wake cycle or body clock) is a natural, internal system that’s designed to regulate feelings of sleepiness and wakefulness over a 24-hour period. This complex timekeeper is controlled by an area of the brain that responds to light, which is why humans are most alert while the sun is shining and are ready to sleep when it’s dark outside.
Your circadian rhythm causes your level of wakefulness to rise and dip throughout the day. Understanding your body’s internal clock—or circadian rhythm—is the first step to better sleep.
If you follow your body’s natural cues regarding when to go to sleep and wake up, your circadian rhythm should stay balanced, but a change in your schedule (like if you stay up late pulling long hours at work one day or sleep in one Saturday), can disrupt your body clock.
Tick TockTock – What disrupts your body clock?
Too much of the wrong light
Bright lights in the evening hours can throw off your body clock by confusing your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. Artificial blue light (the type that laptops, tablets and cell phones emit) is the worst culprit, so try to power-down tech devices at least two to three hours before bed
Monkey Mind – Anxious Mind
We live in a culture where productivity is more important than self-care. Tied to technology and worshipping at the alter of ‘busy’ – our nervous systems are “always-on”. We are flooded with stress hormones and sleep deprived like never before. Anxiety, adrenal fatigue, pain, digestive disorders, burnout – sounds familiar?Not knowing how to switch off we go to bed with our minds still churning out busy thoughts. Instead of our natural sleep chemical , melatonin, being released to send the signal to our brains that it is sleep time, we find ourselves flooded with adrenaline which tells the brain to keep going, and stay awake!
Luckily for us our bodies can be physiologically rewired for sleep -we have within us the capactity to re-set our sleep rhythm and return to deep restful sleep.
How to Energize your body clock
If you’re serious about sleep you have to make your sleep a priority – way more of a priority than our laptops or mobiles. We have to stop being slaves to our screens and choose sleep as our main focus.
Go for an A.M. Walk. In the morning, exposure to the sun or natural light, won’t just give you an energy boost—it can also reset your circadian rhythm. A quick outdoor stroll in the morning will give you enough sun exposure to signal to your brain that it’s time to start the day. No time to walk? Simply raise the blinds or switch on your brightest light instead.
Stick to a Consistent Sleep Schedule. A regular bedtime is one part of the equation, but waking up at the same time daily will also help keep your circadian rhythm in check. It may be tempting to grab some extra shut-eye on weekends, but doing so can throw off your body clock during the week.
Soothing our senses– something as simple as lying on the floor and resting your lower legs on the sofa can be really restful and signal to your brain that you’re switching from busy mode to rest mode. While you’re at it , light a candle , put some lavender oil in a burner, lie by the fire, rest your eyes with a soft eye-mask , listen to a relaxation practice (click here for my free audio practice that accompanies this blog) Give your nervous system as many cues as possible that you are slowing down to re-set your body clock for sleep time.
Read a book– o.k., so hopefully by now you will have understood that screen time activates your brain into thinking that it is day-time and gets you ready for action. This of course is the exact opposite of what we want to happen. So along with the soft lights in your bedroom choose a book that will make you feel happy inside. No thrillers please! Read something that will gently lull you to sleep.
Meditate and stay cosy in bed. Meditation comes tops at slowing down a busy mind, as well as keeping the heart-rate even, and the blood pressure at an even keel. Meditation increases our sleep chemical melatonin and will shift you from ‘wired but tired’ to ‘soft and snoozy’ and ready for sleep.
This is a really good starting point for most of us in increasing our Zzz’s and giving you the best sleep. Be patient with this routine as it can take time for our bodies to attune to a new rhythm. Our body clock loves regularity and just like a new-born learning to sleep we need to give ourselves the same care and on-going attentionuntil your body clock rewires and gets the signal that you’re serious about sleep.
If you’d like some support why not sign up for our 20 day Sleep Challenge. Your body will thank you for it!