Sleep is one of the only things you can never have too much of. It’s also one of the things that alludes us most frequently, especially as modern life and technology keeps us up late into the night and rising at the crack of dawn the next day. It’s estimated that only around 38% of us are classified as ‘good sleepers’, while around 30% of the British population is severely sleep deprived – a growing problem which has lead to the bedtime industry booming like never before. As we search for that perfect nights sleep we part with as much cash necessary to solve our slumber issues, investing in everything from better mattresses and breathable linen, to pillow sprays and Himalayan salt lights. (Or is that just me?!) One of the main questions on our collective millennial lips is undoubtedly ‘how can you wake up feeling energized and refreshed?’ And although there’s no magic answer, small changes can have a big difference and ensure you open your eyes ready to face the day.
I’ve always had a pretty solid relationship with sleep; I was known as a kid for sleeping through, being able to snooze pretty much anywhere I was and needing a good eight hours every single night. As an adult I’m still absolutely reliant on a good nights sleep and absolutely cannot function if I go without seven or eight hours for more than two nights on the trot. For me, a good nights sleep fixes everything and allows me to perform at my best, but without it I feel sluggish and lack concentration – my to do list never seems to get shorter, no matter how many cups of coffee I have!
Over the years I’ve slowly come to understand what has an impact on my sleep and the small changes I can make to improve the quality of the time I do have in bed, much of it not exactly being rocket science. But if you’re suffering, worried about how you’re going to deal with the darker mornings, or just want some simple actionable tips, then here is how I get a great night sleep and ensure I wake up feeling refreshed and energised…
STOP THE CAFFEINE
It’s absolutely normal to increase your caffeine intake when you feel sluggish and lacking alertness, but it’s actually counter-intuitive in the long term. Caffeine can take up to eight hours to be removed from your system, so really you should be having that last cup of coffee or sip of Diet Coke no later than 3pm – otherwise it may well keep you awake or wake you up as your body starts to withdraw. Scary huh! Since I worked with a sleep expert last year I’ve stopped coffee after 3pm, have reduced my intake to only two cups a day and have tried to avoid any caffeinated drinks in the evening – and it really does make all the difference. Yes, I still have those nights when you wake up every hour or take ages to fall back to sleep, but overall it’s massively improved my quality of sleep and overall dependence on coffee to get me through.
INVEST IN A SUNLIGHT LAMP
One of the best things I’ve ever bought myself was a sunrise lamp. I really struggle waking up during the winter months, especially when it’s still dark outside and my body is telling me I should still be asleep. After much research I bought my original Lumie Light and within a few nights I was like a new woman – I wasn’t awoken with the jerk of my alarm, but the soothing light woke me up gradually and got my body ready for the day. Over the years I’ve upgraded this a couple of times and now use the Philips Somneo Sleep & Wake-Up Light which is an all singing, all dancing version that is used practically every day from October until March; it’s pricey, but it’s absolutely worth every penny and will make your mornings so much easier. (Find out more and read my original review here.) There are much more affordable alternatives out there if you want to dabble before making such an investment though.
USE CALMING AROMAS
We all know that lavender and chamomile help to soothe away tension and get us in the mood for sleep, but there are so many ways you can utilise the power of essential oils. From the iconic This Works Pillow Spray (which helps to improve the quality and ease you into deep sleep,) to the amazingly affordable Feather & Down body butter which will nourish while calming the mind, and even facial oils enriched with beautiful aromas to help relax the senses while you massage them into the skin. Lighting a soothing candle such as Neom’s Tranquility will help to ensure your bedroom is a sanctuary and your mind will be ready to sink into the depths of sleep. I also can’t recommend silk eye masks and a pair of silicone earplugs enough either… Shut out the world and let those aromas get to work!
YOUR BED IS YOUR HAVEN
During my youth I pretty much slept on whatever was in my rented room and in whatever cheap bedsheet I found in Primark, but as my sleep has become even more precious I’ve discovered that the way your bed looks and feels has a huge impact on your quality of sleep. Investing in a great mattress or mattress topper (I picked up one from Dunelm for less than £100) will support your body and prevent you from tossing and turning, while fab pillows will support your neck and stop you fidgeting to get in the best position you can. I’m always replacing and upgrading my pillows as it has a huge impact on my quality of sleep (I’m a 3 pillow lover, don’t judge me!) as well as treating myself to new covers and sheets – because there really is no better feeling than getting into a freshly laundered bed. A silk pillowcase can not only help to smooth hair and aid the performance of your skincare products, but it can also help regulate temperature and ensure you’re super comfy – all the things that will help you get the best slumber possible.
TRY SLEEP AIDS
Something I’ve been trying more recently is the addition of sleep aids and herbal teas to my bedtime routine. A cup of peppermint, chamomile or ‘sleepy’ tea helps to hydrate before bed while relaxing my mind, but what’s made the biggest impact is taking a little Benenox Overnight Recharge just before I brush my teeth. This super clever supplement contains a combination of natural honey, Sustamine and Vitamin B6 to supplement your body’s stored energy levels and support good quality sleep. The Sustamine essentially helps to slowly release the honey over an eight hour period, giving you a constant supply of essential energy so you don’t find yourself feeling restless or waking up feeling like you’ve not actually been to bed. I’ve been taking it when I know I need to feel energized or have an early start, and it really does help with that morning ‘get up and go’; I haven’t felt really sleepy or groggy since using it, even if my energy levels do need a boost my mid-morning. But it’s those first moments that make all the difference!
Once you’re aware of what’s impacting your sleep negatively, you can start to make positive changes that will undoubtedly improve the quality of your downtime. You don’t have to invest in lots of super tech or luxury bed sheets, but integrating small additions or swaps will really have you wondering why you didn’t do it before. Sleep is golden, after all!
Benenox Overnight Recharge is available from Boots and all good pharmacies, priced £9.99.
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