5 Simple Lifestyle Changes to Help you Sleep

 
insomnia, sleep problems, lifestyle, stress relief, Colchester, essex
 

So how did you feel when you woke up this morning? If you started the day feeling sluggish, bleary eyed and grumpy after a lousy night's sleep then you're certainly not alone. Incredibly, 37% of adults in the UK feel they're not getting enough sleep at night. 

Regularly suffering from poor quality sleep or insomnia can cause a whole host of health problems in the long term. Fortunately though, there are lots of simple changes you can make to help yourself drift off to sleep more easily at bedtime. Below are some ideas on how to make straightforward changes to your lifestyle in order to help you to get the quality sleep that you need at night.

Get on Top of Your Stress

One of the most common reasons for insomnia is stress and anxiety. If you lie awake at night worrying about work, kids, family, money or anything else then it's time to start managing your stress. 

First of all you need to identify exactly what it is that is causing you to feel stressed and worried. Is there anything you can do to take action on your problems? Can you get some help in reducing the demands that have been placed on you? Sometimes it helps to simply talk through your problems with a supportive partner, friend or relative. 

Learning some relaxation techniques can be extremely beneficial in helping to manage stress. I often work with my clients to introduce them to simple but effective relaxation techniques that they can use throughout the day or at bedtime to relax and be more in the moment. 

Cut Down on Food and Drink Stimulants

We need to be in a relaxed state in order to get good quality sleep but many of us get through our busy and demanding days with tea, coffee and sugary snacks then find it hard to switch off in the evening.

Try and avoid caffeine from 3pm onwards each day  to ensure that it doesn't affect your ability to sleep at bedtime. It's also a good idea to reduce your sugar intake and any nicotine consumption, especially in the evening, as these can work as stimulants too.

Don't be tempted to use alcohol to help you get to sleep in the evening as this can really affect the quality of your sleep.

Get Regular Massage Treatments

Among a whole host of other health benefits, receiving regular massage treatments has been shown to help with sleep problems and insomnia. It can help to reduce any muscular pain or tension that may be affecting your sleep, can reduce anxiety, increases feelings of relaxation and releases serotonin which the body uses to produce melatonin (the hormone responsible for telling the brain to prepare for sleep).

I often recommend aromatherapy massage for any of my clients that suffer from sleep problems as this way they get the added benefit of essential oils, several of which can be great for improving sleep. My article How to Sleep Better with Essential Oils explains more about which oils are beneficial for sleep.

Stick to a Bedtime Routine

Bedtime routines aren't just for kids! Having a regular, relaxing wind-down routine each evening can really help the body to 'switch off' and prepare for sleep. Try turning your gadgets off and instead enjoy some quiet time reading, soaking in a warm bath or practising a relaxation technique. For more help on this take a look at How to Sleep Better with a Bedtime Routine 

Make Sure your Bedroom is Sleep-friendly

Your bedroom should be a soothing, relaxing and comfortable place for you to sleep. If it's too hot or cold, filled with clutter or piles of paperwork that you've brought home with you this won't help your sleep.

Think of ways you can keep your bedroom clean, tidy and clutter-free. Some inexpensive storage solutions could help with this.

Try and maintain the perfect ambience for sleeping in your bedroom. The temperature should be comfortable (around 18° C for most people). You can use fans, ventilation or heating for this. It should also be kept as dark as possible. Blackout curtains, blinds or just an eye mask can help. If noise is a problem try using earplugs. 

If your mattress is more than 10 years old it could be time to replace it. You need to make sure your bed is comfortable and supports you correctly. Duvets and covers should all be the correct weight for the time of year to stop you feeling too hot or cold.

 

Making a few of these simple changes can really pay off when it comes to getting a more restful night's sleep.

Which of these changes make a difference to your sleep? Do you have any other great tips for a good night's sleep?

 

Please note - In no way is this information designed to take the place of professional medical advice. If you're continually struggling to sleep please seek advice from your GP.


I am the founder and owner of Calme Therapies, based in Colchester, Essex. I am a qualified aromatherapist, massage therapist and relaxation therapist and I specialise in working with clients suffering from stress and tension.

If you would like to find out more, make an enquiry or book a treatment please contact me.

 

How to Sleep Better - The Bedtime Routine

 
bedtime routine, sleep better, insomnia relief, relaxation techniques, insomnia, Colchester, Essex
 

If you have young children, the chances are you've put a fair bit of thought into their bedtime routine. It might include a warm bath, a bedtime story, a drink of milk, a favourite toy - or just about anything that gives you a chance to get them into bed and asleep without too much of a fight!

Day in day out you repeat pretty much the same routine with them. You may not love having to read the same story book yet again but the safe, familiar, calm routine is what (hopefully) helps them to wind down and get ready to sleep. For most parents, the time it takes is worth it if it helps their children to fall asleep more easily.

In stark contrast to this is our own night-time routine each evening. As adults, our bedtime routine often consists of switching the TV off, checking our phones one more time, brushing our teeth and getting into bed. Then we wonder why we don't sleep well.

In fact, just like our children, we can benefit hugely from a period of quiet wind-down time in the evening. We need a relaxing routine to help us transition from our busy, fast-paced days filled with stress, work, to-do lists, emails, phones and TV to the peace and calm that is needed to be able to get a good nights sleep.

So if your current bedtime routine involves pressing the off button on the remote then taking a last look at your inbox, here are some ideas on how you can incorporate a more relaxed wind-down routine into your evening. You may be surprised at how much it can benefit your sleep...

Try and go to bed at roughly the same time every night. It can be tempting to stay up later at the weekends but sticking to a regular sleep pattern can be beneficial.

Start your wind-down routine at least 30 minutes before bed. An hour is even better. 

During your wind-down time make sure you avoid all your tech including TVs, computers, laptops and phones. These gadgets can play havoc with your sleep patterns if you spend too much time on them in the evening. You can always record favourite programmes then watch them at a time which suits you better.

Avoid stimulants such as caffeine in the evening. In fact it's best to cut out all caffeine after 3pm each day. If you like to have a hot drink before bed why not try a warm, milky drink or chamomile tea which can be great for helping you to gently relax.

It's best not to eat a large meal too late in the evening as this can make it difficult to sleep. If you feel hungry try having a light snack. Something like wholemeal toast or cheese and oatcakes is perfect.

If anything is worrying you or playing on your mind find someone to talk it through with or write it down so you can look at it with a fresh mind the next day. 

Find some activities that help you to relax and unwind. Try reading a book (best to avoid the latest thriller if you're trying to relax!), listening to music or taking a warm bath. 

Use essential oils to help you relax after a busy day and sleep better. My article How to Sleep better with Essential Oils has lots of suggestions on which oils to pick and how to use them.

Try a relaxation technique to help you wind down and clear your mind. I often show my clients a progressive muscle relaxation technique which is perfect for use in the evenings. It involves tensing then relaxing various muscle groups in a set sequence and can be very effective for helping to clear the mind and reduce any tension before going to sleep. You could also try a guided visualisation designed to help you sleep. There's a huge range out there to download or purchase.  

 

So if you're having trouble drifting off at night why not give some of these ideas a try and have a go at building in a relaxing wind-down routine before bed. Sweet dreams!

 

Please note - In no way is this information designed to take the place of professional medical advice. If you're continually struggling to sleep please seek advice from your GP.


I am the founder and owner of Calme Therapies, based in Colchester, Essex. I am a qualified aromatherapist, massage therapist and relaxation therapist and I specialise in working with clients suffering from stress and tension.

If you would like to find out more, make an enquiry or book a treatment please contact me.

How to Sleep Better Part 1 - Essential oils

 
essential oils for sleep, aromatherapy for sleep, aromatherapy relaxation, Colchester, Essex
 

Ahhhh, sleep. Maybe I’m beginning to show my age or perhaps it’s because the brutal sleep deprivation of early parenthood is still pretty fresh in my memory but these days I value my zzzzz’s more than ever. The luxury of an 8 hour stretch of uninterrupted sleep is something I’m grateful for whenever I can get it.

As a parent of two young children I’m pretty used to having my sleep interrupted by a teething toddler or a 5 year old who’s had a bad dream but what drives me crazy are those nights when the kids are sleeping peacefully but for no particular reason I’M WIDE AWAKE!

And it seems like I’m not alone. A recent study by Aviva found that a massive 37% of adults felt they were not getting enough sleep which puts us an unhealthy top of the table out of the 13 countries listed in the research.

Luckily however, there’s a lot we can do to improve the quality of our sleep so over the next few weeks I’ll be publishing a series of articles with plenty of ideas about how you can enjoy a better night’s sleep.

For me, one of the quickest and most effective ways to deal with insomnia is to use essential oils. Many people find that stress, worry and anxiety are what keeps them awake at night so it will come as no surprise to hear that aromatherapists often suggest oils with relaxing, calming properties to help with sleep. In this article I’ll introduce you some of these oils and give you easy, practical ways that you can use them.

It's worth noting that it can take a bit of trial and error to find the best oil or blend for you so it may be worth trying out a few different oils to see how they work. I also believe in alternating oils from time to time. You could try using an oil individually or blending two or three together.

Here are a few of my favourite essential oils to use for insomnia:

 

Lavender

Just about everyone has heard of lavender and its calming and soothing actions. This oil can be really effective for helping you to relax before getting ready to sleep.

There are many different kinds of lavender essential oil but you need to make sure you use True Lavender (known as Lavandula Officinalis or Lavandula Angustifolia) as some other forms of lavender are not quite so relaxing!

One more note – do not overdo it with lavender oil as it can actually have more of a stimulant effect in large amounts.

 

Roman Chamomile

This is one of my favourite oils as it’s so versatile. It’s particularly well known for its relaxation properties so can be very useful for insomnia. German chamomile has very similar properties and is therefore also very effective but it is a dark blue colour so beware of colour staining on clothing or bed sheets!

 

Neroli

Neroli is an exquisitely scented floral oil made from sweet orange blossom. Due to the manufacturing process it is not a cheap oil to buy but I find a little goes a long way. It’s a very useful oil for helping with stress, nervous tension and anxiety so if you’re being kept awake at night by constant worries or if you find yourself in emotional turmoil this oil could well be worth a try.

 

Vetivert

This oil has a very strong, earthy fragrance which isn’t to everyone’s liking but it’s my personal favourite for helping with insomnia. It has deeply relaxing properties and is a very grounding oil. I find it really effective for those nights when I just can’t seem to switch my thoughts off.

If you’re put off by the strong scent you could try blending it with a more floral oil such as lavender.

 

Valerian

Valerian has a long history of being used for its calming and grounding properties. This is one of the more expensive essential oils but it is particularly noted for its use in helping with insomnia.

This oil can have a very strong sedative effect in some people so it’s a good idea to use with caution.

 

So once you've decided on your oil or blend you can think about how to use it.

For a relaxing treat I love an aromatherapy bath. Just mix 7 or 8 drops of your oil with a couple of tablespoons of whole milk, add to your bath water and enjoy!

You could also try blending your own massage oil then apply to your pulse points or use for a relaxing foot massage just before bed. For 15ml of base oil you'll need to add 6 drops of essential oil to make a 2% blend, which I usually find is enough.

Or if you want a quick and easy option just put a few drops of essential oil onto a tissue and keep it by your pillow - just make sure the undiluted essential oil doesn't come into contact with your skin.

 

Note: As with all use of essential oils, there are some safety precautions to consider. Essential oils are extremely strong and should NEVER be applied neat to the skin or taken internally unless advised by a fully qualified aromatherapist or health professional. If you have sensitive skin it's a good idea to perform a patch test with your chosen oils, making sure they're properly diluted in a base oil. If there's no reaction after 24 hours then you can safely use the oils.

If you are pregnant or have underlying health issues it's always a good idea to seek the advice of a qualified aromatherapist to find out which oils are suitable or even speak to a health professional for advice. Extra precautions should be used when treating the elderly or the very young. Once again, it's best to get advice on the most suitable oils to choose.


I am the founder and owner of Calme Therapies, based in Colchester, Essex. I am a qualified aromatherapist, massage therapist and relaxation therapist and I specialise in working with clients suffering from stress and tension.

If you would like to find out more, make an enquiry or book a treatment please contact me.