Lets talk about sleep...
Sleep is important for our health, when we sleep it allows the body and its processes, such as digestion, to rest. Sleep also allows the brain to process information.
Lack of sleep may lead to low mood, poor memory, lack of energy and an increase in stress. A restful night’s sleep may improve concentration, health and your mood.
As mums, sleep can feel like an unattainable goal when you’re battling sleepless nights with your little ones. It’s bloody tough!
There are things however that you can do to help improve the quality of your sleep.
To help improve the quality of your sleep try to keep your bedtime and wake up times consistent.
A regular bedtime and wake up time may help your sleep quality for the longer term. It helps set your body clock and you may feel more refreshed and energised.
If you have a child that wakes regularly during the night it’s important to ensure the sleep your are getting is the best quality it can be.
To help you get a good nights sleep, a good tip is to get outdoors during the day and expose yourself to some natural bright light.
Going for a walk with the family or on your own (a tick for the self care box) during the daytime when it’s bright encourages the body to make a neurotransmitter that will help you get to sleep.
Melatonin is a hormone that is released to help us get to sleep. So our bodies can make this hormone, it needs the neurotransmitter serotonin.
Exposure to natural bright daylight encourages the body to produce serotonin. As the day goes on and day turns into night, the darkness triggers your body to release melatonin to helps us fall asleep.
So get out there and go for a walk.
Creating a dim environment an hour before you go to bed may stimulate the release of the hormone melatonin.
So this means avoiding devices that emit blue light before bed as the light can disrupt the release of melatonin.
That’s means putting your phone, tablet, laptop or any other electrical device away. Turn off the main lights and switch on a lamp to create that dim environment.
For some people, getting to sleep is not the problem, it is staying asleep that can be tricky. Do you find that you wake up in the early hours of the morning and cannot get back to sleep? Do you feel that the more you try to get back to sleep the more awake you become? Do you hear your kids starting to stir and then lay there and wonder if they’re waking up? And then you’re even more awake?
If you find you are taking longer than 20 minutes to fall asleep it may be better for you to get out of bed, go to another room and read a book in dimmed light. When you start to feel tired you can return to your bed. This ensures that your brain associate your bed as a place of sleep and not a place for being awake.
There is something else you can try for those times when you wake in the night.
Meditation may be useful for you to help you fall back to sleep. Meditation can help to calm the mind and body which may help with getting back to sleep.
There are many free apps that provide guided meditations for you to follow. My favourites include Insight Timer, Calm and Headspace.
Do you find, when you’ve had a rubbish nights sleep, that the next day your appetite increases and you crave junk food?
There is a reason for this and it’s to do with the hormones that regulate our appetite. Leptin is the hormone that tells the body that it’s had enough to eat and ghrelin stimulates our appetite. When we don’t get enough sleep leptin may fall and and ghrelin may increase, leading to increased hunger.
You may find yourself reaching for sugary foods such as chocolate, sweets, biscuits or white bread. These sorts of foods may have an impact on your blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates are digested very quickly and absorbed into the bloodstream, causing a rise in blood sugar levels followed by a quick drop. This can lead to feelings of hunger, drive food cravings or fluctuating energy levels.
When carbohydrates are eaten with protein such as meat, beans and pulses, this can help balance blood sugar levels and reduce a spike in blood sugar as it helps to slow down the release of sugar into the bloodstream.
So when you’ve had a rubbish nights sleep try to add protein to each meal and snack to help balance your blood sugar levels and appetite.
If you try any of these tips to help you get a better nights sleep, I'd love to hear from you. Please comment below and let me know how you get on.