If you ever find yourself burning the candle at both ends, yet still staring at the ceiling late into the night struggling to drift off to sleep, you may decide it's finally time to assess your sleeping habits and begin to implement small changes to your sleep schedule. Our sleep expert,Dr Nerina has designed five handy 'non-negotiables' to add to your daily routine and before you know it, you'll begin to notice positive changes to your sleep and energy levels.
Eat breakfast every day within 30-45 minutes of rising
Eating breakfast stops you relying on your survival system and switches on the safety system in which your circadian timer can be activated. If you would prefer something small to begin the plan, eight almonds and two dates offer around 150-200 calories and will fire up your metabolism, stabilise your blood sugar, stop you reaching for the coffee and help your body produce vital melatonin later in the evening to help you sleep.
Drink at least two litres of water per day
Many of us are living life too fast and, as a result are in a state of dehydration. Living too fast speeds up all of the cellular systems, and in particular the kidneys. Drinking too much caffeine exacerbates this speed and dehydration effect, resulting in loss of natural water. You will find that your energy levels will increase once you start drinking more water. Dr Nerina has claimed her patients, once they adopt this strategy, no longer experience restlessness at night.
Cut out or reduce caffeine
How much caffeine are you drinking? Do you really need that cup of tea or morning coffee to get you going? If you're drinking more than four or five caffeinated drinks a day, you're in a fatigue cycle. Begin to halve your caffeine intake, start eating breakfast if you haven't already and increase your water intake. Start snacking healthily every two hours or so to maintain your blood sugar levels.
Electronic sundown one hour before
Our energy tends to run in 60-90 minute cycles and the cycle just before you go to bed is key to how you are going to sleep when you go to bed at night. When you look at screens, the chemical dopamine is produced which makes you alert and 'switched on'. To reduce the chance of being unable to switch off at night, begin to withdraw from technology one hour before bedtime.
Four pre-midnight sleeps per week
There is real value in going to sleep before midnight as your circadian rhythm is at its lowest point (usually between 10pm and 5am). Going to bed late is likely to lead to a large amount of your sleep being highly inefficient. Before midnight, it's the phase where stress hormones start to drop off and and we get a substantial amount of deep sleep and our shortest phase of REM sleep. If you're a night owl, start to get into the habit of reducing stimulation and becoming quiet and restful during this time. Don't try to be fast asleep by 10pm, instead focus on resting and avoiding technology with blue light.