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How to Improve your Sleep

There’s nothing a good night’s sleep won’t help, literally.

Quality and duration of sleep is the number 1 thing to work on before looking at nutrition or any other lifestyle factor. Regardless of what your condition or complaint is, good sleep is vital for everyone and for every body system.

Why do we sleep?

Sleep is necessary to restore & rejuvenate every single body system, solidify memories, grow muscle, repair tissue, and synthesise hormones. Without it, various body systems can begin to suffer and fail to function optimally. Working on improving both the duration and quality of our sleep can bring about significant improvements in bodily functions including mood, immune system function, energy levels and more.

How much sleep should I get?

7-9 hours is necessary for most people although some people need more, 11-14 hours for 1 year olds, school children need 9-11 hours and teenagers need 8-10 hours.

What are the impacts of insufficient sleep?

Getting less than 7 hours sleep at night immediately impacts the body:

· The production of Natural Killer cells (immune system protection) declines significantly

· The risk of some diseases such as Cancer & Alzheimer’s increases

· Inferior functioning of all body systems

How does stress affect sleep?

Stress & anxiety are the leading causes for insomnia. When stressed, the ‘fight or flight’ or sympathetic nervous system is switched on which prevents you falling asleep. Stress also releases a hormone called cortisol which keeps the brain alert and reduces sleepiness.

Can sleep affect mental health?

Yes! Dream sleep provides ‘mental first-aid’ and can leave you feeling better and less anxious on waking. Sleep deprivation can exacerbate anxiety and anxiety in turn can reduce sleep quality.

What about technology before bed?

1 hour of iPad reading before sleep decreases melatonin production by 50% and delays the natural melatonin peak by 3 hours. Melatonin is responsible for the healthy onset of sleep. Switching off your iPad, mobile phone and laptop 1-2 hours before bed can shift you into ‘sleep mode’ and wind you down for a good night’s sleep. Keeping your phone next to the bed can cause the body to react with anticipatory anxiety where your sleep lacks depth due to the anxiety of checking your phone the following morning. Try leaving your phone outside the bedroom overnight and avoid checking it until after you have had breakfast or brushed your teeth.

What about jet lag?

· Aim to sleep at the same time as the local night-time where you are travelling to

· Avoid napping on the plane as it will diminish sleepiness and keep you up at night

· Get a good night’s sleep at your destination to reset your body clock

· Go for a run/walk in the daylight to adjust the body clock to the local time zone

· Try to eat when everyone else is eating as this will also help reset your body clock

Since sleep is so important, here's 10 tips to help you get the good sleep you really need:


Caffeine remains in your blood for many hours after drinking and disrupts the quality and duration of your sleep, stops you falling asleep, and can leave you feeling unrefreshed the following day. If you can't go without your daily tea or coffee, try swapping caffeine-based drinks for non-caffeinated versions such as rooibos or herbal teas and try to stick to having them before midday only.


Alcohol is a sedative, not a sleep aid. It fragments your sleep and blocks REM deep sleep which is essential for mental health and mood. Try swapping alcoholic drinks for a fizzy kombucha, a glass of Schloer or an alcohol-free beer.


Dim the lights in your house and avoid blue-light screens (tablets/phones) for an hour or 2 before bed to promote melatonin production. This sleep hormone will help you drift off nicely into a deep sleep.


Try leaving your phone outside the bedroom. Keeping it by the bed can produce a kind of anticipatory anxiety reducing the depth of your sleep, in anticipation of checking it the following morning. And try turning the TV off for an hour or 2 before bed to help you wind down.


An afternoon forest walk has shown to improve sleep quality and duration too, not to mention its other benefits.


Keeping a regular bedtime and wake time, and also eating at the same time each night, can help to instigate sleep and stay asleep better, improving the quality & duration of sleep.


Try journalling & meditation to combat stress & anxiety before bedtime. Writing down your worries before bed can help to get them out of your head and allow your mind to drift off.

You could also try guided meditation or sleep stories. Some great apps to try: @calm @headspace


To fall asleep & stay asleep your core body temperature must drop by 1 degree. An ideal bedroom temperature is 18-18.5°C.


If you can’t get to sleep do something else until you feel sleepy, don’t lie in bed wide awake. You must associate your bed with sleeping.


Try to really wind down for an hour or 2 before bedtime. This could include turning off the TV, listening to relaxing music, having a warm bath with epsom salts, gentle stretching or breathing, whatever makes you feel zen. These kinds of bedtime habits tell your body and hormones that it's time to sleep soon.

Most adults need 7-9 hours a night, how many do you need? And how many do you get? Answers below 👇 😊

Lots of love, Annie xx


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