Getting some sleep

Sleep is something we don’t necessarily think about, until it’s a problem. Time taken to fall asleep, how often you wake during the night and how you feel when you wake up are all important indicators of sleep quality.

There are a few things to know about a good night’s sleep. Firstly, it should only take a few minutes for you to fall asleep once your head hits the pillow. If it’s taking you 30 minutes or more, then there’s a problem. Also, you should be able to sleep through the night without waking up (unless you’re woken by someone else!).

Start by thinking about your sleep environment: is your bedroom a few degrees cooler than the rest of your house, does it have good air flow and is it clean of clutter. How do you feel when you walk into the space? You should be engaged with sleep from the moment you step into the bedroom. This might also mean getting rid of electronic devices such as television, mobile phones and tablets from the room.

When did you last change your pillow? If you suffer allergies you should be changing your pillow every 12-18 months, otherwise every 2-2.5 years is fine.

What is your bedtime routine? Going to bed at the same time each night and having a consistent routine can really help set the mood and get your body ready for sleep.

Switching off screens around 30 minutes before bed is a good idea too. Try reading a book (physical one that is!), doing some wind down stretches, meditation or mindfulness if that’s your thing.

Make sure you stop eating a couple of hours before bed too. Especially tea, coffee, chocolate, sugar, honey etc - these are all stimulatory and can affect your sleep. Ideally don’t eat stimulating foods or drinks after 3pm, even midday if you’re particularly sensitive.

Supplements like magnesium, valerian, kava and lavender oil are all great for helping wind down but should always be taken in consultation with a qualified practitioner, especially if you are taking pharmaceutical medication.