This advice is an extract from the article 'Get your beauty sleep' written by Diana Burgess - Naturopath - My Hardy's Magazine - Summer Issue 2023
Suffice it to say, waking up with puffy dark circles under your eyes and staggering groggily for the coffee will not make you feel your most beautiful.
Dark circles aside, adequate good quality sleep is essential for healthy brain function and your health in general. People who regularly sleep less than 6 or 7 hours per night deplete their immune systems and may even increase their risk of certain health conditions such as cancer. Furthermore, lack of sleep and sleep disorders like insomnia can affect mental health, for example by increasing the risk of anxiety or depression.
A solid 6-8 hours where all stages of the sleep cycle are met, assists with waking up with that glorious spring in your step, rejuvenating your health and replenishing your inner vitality.
– Dim lights and screens where possible as the natural light of day starts to fade. Blue light exposure from screens inhibits our body from producing sleep-time chemicals as it mimics daylight and tricks the brain into thinking it still needs to be awake. Dimming lights in the house also helps to let the body know it is evening.
– For the same reason, use black out curtains in the bedroom if there is too much light coming in through the window.
– As soon as you wake up, expose your eyes to sunlight or bright light indoors, thus helping the body produce waking up chemicals. Ensuring exposure to the correct lighting at opposite ends of the day helps establish a healthy circadian rhythm.
– Keep to a regular bedtime and avoid over-sleeping too much on weekends, again aiding a healthy circadian rhythm.
– If you take naps during the day, keep them to less than 60 minutes if possible, and not too late in the day. Any longer or later and you risk feeling too awake at bedtime.
– Avoid intensive exercise too late in the day. Rather do gentle, low key exercise in the afternoon or early evening if you struggle with sleep.
– Limit caffeine consumption, particularly from the afternoon, and avoid altogether if it makes you feel wired or jittery.
– Ensure a healthy dinner that includes a good serving of fibre, protein and natural fat (such as olive oil or fatty fish). This will help stabilise blood sugars. Avoid sugary drinks or puddings too close to bed-time.