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SLEEP : the foundation of good health

As well as eating the right foods, your body requires rest to recover from a work-out and build muscle. The business of life can make it hard to rest and there are many factors that can prevent good sleep.

Sleep is foundational for our mental health, fitness training and weight loss. Sleep enables our muscles to repair and build themselves naturally after exercise and it underpins our ability to make good choices around nutrition. Research shows that sleep deprivation triggers the hormones in our body that cause cravings for salty, sugary, fatty and starchy foods and sleeping for less than 6 hours per night has been linked with weight gain.

Sleep underpins our mood, motivation, energy for exercise and our positivity so working towards a good sleeping pattern needs to be a priority in addressing any health issues you may have.

Sleep experts suggest adults should get between 7-9 hours per night and should go to sleep at 10/10:30pm.

So how can we improve our sleep???

Here are some suggestions for you to try -

  • Don’t drink caffeine after 12 (midday)

  • Try to finish dinner by 7:30pm

  • Avoid alcohol after dinner

  • Drink a cup of herbal tea

  • Invest in a good mattress, pillows and duvet

  • Keep the air fresh and temperature low in your bedroom (16-18 degrees)

  • Go to bed by 10:30pm

  • Get a gentle alarm clock, possibly with a sunlight mode that slowly lights up the room. Check out this Sunrise Alarm clock they can cost from £35

  • Wake at 6/6:30am

  • Geta decent morning stretch routine

  • Get 30mins exposure to sunlight in the morning.

30-60 minutes before bed -

  • If you find yourself getting hungry before bed or waking with hunger, try having a small bowl of plain oats with milk at 9:30/10pm.

  • Dim the lights

  • Avoid activities that make you think about work, to-do lists, admin, complicated relationships or tricky conversations.

  • Where possible, have boundaries around conversations or people that you know keep you awake at night.

  • Be device free (use blue light mode if you need to be on a device)

  • Leave your phone downstairs – don’t have it in your bedroom

  • Aim for 20-30 mins relaxing activity (e.g. reading, deep breathing, mindfulness, gentle stretching)

  • Have a hot bath with magnesium salts (good for the muscles) and a few drops of lavender oil (good for relaxation)

  • Reduce fluid intake to avoid getting up to wee in the night

  • Use an essential oil diffuser and humidifier (they cost around £20) – this will keep the air in the room from drying out (particularly good if you wake with a dry mouth). It also emits a gentle low bubbling noise that can help sleep or relax you before you sleep. You can add a few drops of lavender oil which helps to relax you and promotes sleep.

  • Have a pen and notepad beside your bed if you need to jot down things that come into your mind that you want to remember.

  • If you find yourself tossing and turning, try to imagine each muscle in your body and relax them in turn. If you can’t sleep, it can be better to get up and do a relaxing activity for 20mins and then go back to bed.

Happy resting and enjoy your sleep!

Becca x Follow me on Instagram for more - @beccafooddiaries

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