The 5 Sleep Habits I Adopted That Changed Everything
Put your hand up if you’re sleep deprived!
Same! What a mood!
It seems like even the most well intentioned of us are struggling (with sleep but also just with life) and research shows that there is a huge difference between sleep and quality sleep. That doesn’t necessarily mean we need to sleep more – because that’s not always possible – but it does mean we need to sleep better. Smarter. Fitter (wait, what?).
I believe there are five sleep habits I’ve adopted in the last few years that actually do something. This is them.
1. Take a cold shower before bed. I know this sounds horrific but I promise it’s not. Cold exposure has major biological benefits and the science behind it is pretty fascinating. It increases your metabolism, elevates feel-good neurotransmitters, makes your mitochondria more efficient, promotes collagen synthesis (basically your skin will be nicer), and regulates your circadian rhythm. During the day our body temperature naturally rises and then in the afternoon it slowly begins to drop which signals to the body that it’s time to go to sleep, so if you have a hot shower before bed your body will basically think it’s lunchtime. If you want to give this a go, at the end of your shower tonight turn the handle all the way to cold and stand under the water for as long as you can manage, start with 30 seconds and work your way up to a few minutes. Eventually you won’t even notice it I promise.
2. Chat with your GP about a Melatonin supplement. If I could only give one recommendation for a better night’s sleep it would probably be this, but it’s a tricky one because if you’re reading The Twenties Club from the United States or Europe you can simply drive to your local chemist and get a bottle of Melatonin over the counter, but if you’re a Kiwi you will need to visit your GP and order a prescription. Melatonin is not a sleeping pill, and therefore is non-addictive and has no undesirable side effects – think of it more like taking a vitamin C supplement. Melatonin is the hormone our bodies naturally produce to regulate our sleep-wake cycle, but things like caffeine, alcohol and being exposed to bright lights at nighttime (Netflix) can all lower melatonin levels in the body and make it really hard to fall or stay asleep.
3. Write everything down in your iPhone Notes. Before I put my light out I write all of my thoughts into the Notes app on my iPhone. And I mean everything: appointments I need to book, ideas I have for that meeting tomorrow, anxieties I have over that person and that text, things I’m excited for, what I want to eat for breakfast tomorrow. Any thought that pops into my head gets typed into the Notes of my phone so that way when I close my eyes I don’t have 10,000 thoughts circulating in my brain keeping me awake. I’ve symbolically and literally removed them. It really works, you should try it.
4. Essential oils or This Works™ Deep Sleep Pillow Spray. People usually fall into one of two categories: those who believe in the power of essential oils, and those who think it’s bullshit. If you’re a believer, get your hands on a mix of ylang ylang, cinnamon and orange oil and put one to two drops in a diffuser before bed. Heavenly. If you’re of the latter category (don’t worry I get it) then this pillow spray from Mecca is the absolute business, my mum swears by it and mothers tend to know what’s what. It still contains essential oils like lavendar, vetivert and wild chamomile to relieve tension and settle nerves, but because you can buy it at a major beauty store like Mecca it feels less Woo Woo.
5. Buy a Slipsilk™ eye mask. My friend Rachael put me onto eye masks. She claimed they had improved her sleep dramatically and that over time she found herself falling asleep quicker because it signalled to her brain that it was time to sleep. This made sense because when your brain senses pure darkness it starts the production of melatonin (that thing I was just talking about!). I bought a Slipsilk™ eye mask when I was in New York a few months ago (the brand that Jen Atkin and Kourtney Kardashian use). They’re made using the highest quality silk possible, non-toxic dyes and prevent your pillowcase from absorbing your face cream, so they essentially make you better looking! A mood!! This is the brand I use.