Spending some time to unwind before your evening slumber is essential. It not only helps you get a better night’s sleep, but helps you feel more relaxed.
We caught up with author and nutritional therapist, Madeleine Shaw, to get her top tips for destressing for sleep to support our #WinterWise campaign.
What are your top three tips for getting a good night’s sleep?
- In the hour before bedtime, prepare yourself for sleep with a cup of Heath and Heather Tea, as it contains camomile.
- Take 10 deep, mindful, breaths to calm your mind and body.
- Ensure your bedroom is cool and dark.
Do you have a bedtime checklist for getting a good night’s sleep?
I really enjoy taking a little time over my skincare routine – it’s a bit of a ritual for me. I wash away the strains and stresses of the day, massage in my favourite products and prepare for sleep with a good dose of self-care.
Once my skin is prepped, I take my 10 deep breaths and hop into bed; checking to make sure I have a notebook next to me on my bedside table. Just in case any ideas occur to me in the night that I want to remember the next day – just knowing it’s there helps me to relax.
What role does environment play in getting a good night’s sleep? Is there an optimum set up to ensure a good night’s sleep?
Of course everyone is different but generally speaking you should aim for a cool, dark and quiet bedroom if you want an undisturbed night’s sleep – it helps the mind and body to shut down and switch off.
We tend to heat up at night so getting the temperature just right so you feel cosy and secure under your duvet without being too hot is key. Somewhere between 16 to 20 degrees is optimal.
Even the flicker of a phone can disturb so it’s best to leave anything digital outside your bedroom door and invest in an old fashioned alarm clock.
Finally, if you do want something to listen to, to help you drift off, make sure you set the sleep timer so you’re not being disturbed later in the night when you enter the lighter phase of sleep.
How much of a role does technology play in insomnia/sleep difficulties, do you have any advice to help deal with this?
A huge role! The blue lights emitted by our laptops and phones are very stimulating which is useful when you need to stay up for a deadline but not the best thing to be staring at before you go to bed. I LOVE watching TV but I try to read a book before sleep rather than letting myself stay glued to a screen.
Old Wives’ Tales say that cheese before bed can cause nightmares. How important would you say that diet is in relation to sleep? Are there certain things that you would recommend staying away from before bedtime?
I’m not sure if there’s any truth in cheese causing nightmares but it is true that eating anything too heavy, or too late, can disturb you. Having steak just before bed for example, will mean your body has to work really hard to break it down whilst the rest of you is trying to snooze.
If you have to eat late then I recommend soups or stews – anything easily digestible that doesn’t leave you feeling bloated.
Stress can be a key contributor to poor sleep quality – do you have any tips/advice on how to combat stress during the daytime, to help prevent sleepless nights?
Be aware of how much time you are on social media, staring at other people’s lives – it’s a very common stress factor in modern life as we compare our own reality to an edited, Instagram version.
Take a few mindful breaths throughout the day to ensure you are getting enough oxygen into your body, thereby lowering your cortisol (the “stress hormone”) levels.
I’m also a big walker and always recommend to my clients that they introduce more walking into their daily routines; not only is it good for your general fitness but it can be a truly meditative act too.
If you’re feeling particularly zen, why not say a few affirmations to yourself in between strides like “I am strong” or “I am beautiful”.
Shorter days and darker mornings, during the winter months can sometimes cause lethargy and difficulty waking up. What is your top advice to help get going again after a good night’s sleep?
The key to feeling energised in the morning is going to bed on time at night – the hours before midnight are the ones that really count (as my Grandmother used to say!) But hydrating properly is also really important first thing; we get so dehydrated at night, particularly in central heated homes.
I always have around 750ml of filtered water first thing, to blow out the cobwebs and replace those fluids. Only then will I allow myself my first green tea of the day – my matcha latte, which is packed full of antioxidants as well as the caffeine hit I’m craving.
Madeleine’s advice is sure to help you get that great sleep you’ve been dreaming of. If you’re looking for more information on what you can eat or drink for a better sleep, we’ve got you covered in our article.
Madeleine Shaw’s Bio
Madeleine Shaw is an author and nutritional therapist who is on a mission to bring out the happiest and healthiest in everyone. Madeleine is a true believer in the idea that good nutrition impacts your body and mind in a positive way, and publishes delicious recipes online regularly. Discover more from Madeleine here.