Health experts agree that 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night is best but like many of us I struggle to achieve that. For the last 7 years my alarm went off at 4am every weekday and even though I should have been asleep by 8.30pm most nights, realistically it was more like 10pm. Surviving on less sleep means that you try to do everything you can to catch up. The one thing I discovered is that quality sleep can be just as important as the quantity.
Our bodies repair and restore most intensely during the deep sleep cycle, that’s the part where you don’t dream and your system is truly at rest. With less hours available to sleep, I needed to make sure I was reaching this deep sleep cycle as quickly as possible so I woke up feeling rejuvenated.
The deep sleep cycle, it turns out, is the one that has the most anti-ageing benefits. According to sleep experts during deep sleep we release the most amount of human growth hormone which affects the firmness of our skin and the muscles underneath it.
I’ve come up with some tips for quality deep sleep that are quick and efficient and won’t delay your bedtime routine!
1. Herbal teas that contain ingredients like valerian or chamomile
There are all sorts of teas that really work to calm and relax you so that you fall into a deep sleep more quickly.
Those which contain valerian are really useful if you are anxious or stressed.
2. Reducing noise and light.
Earplugs and eye masks allow you to fall asleep more quickly and means the deep sleep cycle is less likely to be disrupted. Did you know that snoring reduces your ability to fall into a deep sleep even when it’s your own!
Look into anti-snoring devices, the ones that fit into your nostrils seem to help.
3. Regular exercise.
Exercise enhances sleep quality as tired muscles will send a message to the brain that you need a deeply restoring level of sleep.
Don’t exercise too close to bed time though as this can impair your ability to fall asleep as it produces those feel-good endorphins.
4. Foot massage
This may sound random but it is deeply relaxing as any reflexologist will tell you. It works well in short bursts unlike a full body massage which takes a while.
If you can’t find anyone to do it try an electronic foot massager, HoMedics have some great ones.
5 minutes or so is all you need.
5. Regular sleep habits.
Try going to bed at exactly the same time for at least 5 days a week. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but has been proven to significantly enhance sleep quality.
6. Avoid laptops and phones too close to bedtime.
Tests have proven the blue and white light given off by them prevents our brains from producing melatonin, the hormone that tells us it’s time to sleep. Some experts suggest not using devices for an hour before bed could help us fall asleep faster.
Finally, don’t despair, if like me the early mornings and late nights are starting to show on your face, it may not be as permanent as you think!
Have a look here, this is what happened when my 4am starts ended after 7 years!
No lasting damage I hope!