Feel less tired in 24 HOURS
Trying to deal with sleepless nights? Try these simple techniques to get more energy by this time tomorrow
9pm Leave your worries for the daytime
Improve your odds of having a more settled sleep by ‘mind dumping’ before you go to bed. Simply write down everything you are thinking about – from buying nappies to paying your bills. Your brain will have a better chance of switching off when it’s not trying to keep track of everything it needs to pay attention to in your waking life.
10pm Don’t push it
Sleep expert Dr Guy Leschziner says you can’t force yourself to fall asleep. “It’s for this reason that no-one remembers the precise moment they drop off to sleep.”
This simple ‘five steps to sleep’ technique will put you in the right frame of mind to drop off more quickly. 1 Focus on a spot on the ceiling and take a deep breath. 2 Think about your eyes becoming heavy and focus on your breathing. Let your eyes close and your body relax. 3 Visualise the gentle side-to-side movement of an object, such as that of a swinging pendulum. 4 Slowly and silently count down from 10. After each number, reinforce the point by telling yourself ‘I am relaxing’. 5 Focus on a personal statement, such as ‘I am a great mum and my baby is fine’.
2am Be in control
“Carrying extra baby weight can lead to snoring, which can go hand in hand with poor sleep quality,” Guy says. “Try not to lie flat on your back, as this will make snoring worse.”
Instead, try the ‘recovery position’: lie on your side, with your uppermost arm and leg bent and resting on the bed in front of you, supporting your body. A pregnancy pillow can be used for comfort. This will help keep your airways open, which in turn will reduce snoring.
6am Kickstart your morning
As you shower, spend two minutes alternating between warm and cold water to boost your circulation. Blasting your body with cold water will increase the blood flow to your internal organs, while dousing it with warm water immediately afterwards will direct blood flow back towards your skin.
1pm Want a quick snooze? Set a timer
“When napping during the day, try to limit yourself to 15 or 20 minutes’ sleep,” Guy advises. “Any more than this and you’ll enter a deeper sleep, from which you’ll wake up feeling groggy.”
4pm Boost low iron levels
Restless legs syndrome, a problem associated with pregnancy, can also sometimes affect sleep patterns after birth. “It’s a very uncomfortable sensation in the legs, often caused by low iron levels, and can make the process of going to sleep very difficult,” Guy says. “See your GP, who will be able to arrange a test to check your iron levels.”
Keep your iron levels topped up with this smoothie, which will deliver your recommended daily allowance of iron in one hit. ‘Sleep well’ smoothie recipe ● 235ml filtered water ● 1 ripe mango, peeled and pitted ● 2 large ripe bananas ● 3 cups of kale ● 1 cup of fresh parsley (omit if pregnant) Add water to blender, then the fruit, and finally the greens. Blend until creamy. ●
11am Fight your body’s urge to eat fat
“There is a lot of evidence to suggest kilojoule intake goes up when you are sleep-deprived,” Guy says. “Lack of sleep alters the level of hormones that govern your appetite and the way you metabolise food, leaving you more likely to eat foods that are high in saturated fat.” These foods are harder for the body to break down, leaving you feeling even more lethargic.
Break this vicious cycle by filling your fridge with foods that are full of protein, fibre and healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which will release energy slowly. The best examples of these are Greek yoghurt with a handful of berries, cottage cheese, sliced avocado, raisins, hummus, nuts and wholegrain crackers.