Many of us are chronically fatigued and lots of us don’t even realise it. We are caught in a cycle of constant, neurotic busyness. The weekdays are an assault course to be overcome, and then what do we when the weekend rolls around? Late night, late mornings; frantically trying to overcompensate for the experiences and rest we missed during the week. No wonder we’re exhausted. Now let’s stop and remember how a good night’s rest makes us feel: energised, positive and practically powerful.

Better Sleep

Our culture, however, doesn’t value sleep. While a good night’s sleep sounds like the simplest thing in the world, we’ve forgotten how to achieve it. So here’s a quick refresher on the subject of sleep:

Routine, routine, routine. Aim to sleep and wake at the same time every day, even at weekends, so we have an undisturbed Circadian Rhythm (body clock) and can fall asleep easily, on cue, and wake when we’ve had enough. Routine is not boring, it’s empowering.

Falling asleep is all about melatonin. That’s the sleep hormone that we secrete as we wind down to oblivion. Darkness increases melatonin production. Artificial light is the enemy. Lower the lights in the run up to bedtime or change to beautiful, cosy and natural candlelight. One study showed that insomnia sufferers were able to reset their body clocks and achieve a more natural, restful sleep routine after a week of camping, free from artificial light. All plant foods contain some melatonin (because plants need to adjust to light and dark too) but garbanzo beans, walnuts, bananas and pineapples are particularly good sources. Dairy products, peanuts and chicken liver all contain an amino acid called tryptophan which the body also uses to produce melatonin. It turns a glass of warm milk before bed really does help us sleep.

The bedroom should be for two things only, and one of them is sleep. Don’t watch TV, use a tablet or check the smartphone. Don’t even leave an alarm clock visible, as we tend to check it during the night, and feel anxious about being awake.

Invest in quality bed linen

Invest in some quality bed linen. We often lose sleep well because we are too warm, invest in some natural fibre bed sheets such as cotton or linen, the natural fibres will allow your body to breathe and keep your temperature regulated. 

Lots of us lose sleep from anxiety. We toss and turn, worrying about stuff that can seem much more manageable in the light of day. Try writing down concerns or creating to-do lists 2-3 hrs before bed and then focus on winding down with music, a good book, a hot bath or a little bit of meditation. Our unconscious never stops working but it works best during relaxation and sleep, so let it resolve some issues for us while we recharge.

Exercise helps us handle stress. It counteracts a lot of the overstimulation from our wired up, always-on lifestyles and a tired body is far more ready for a restful sleep.