THE SENSES OF SLEEP

Trouble sleep­ing? Fo­cus in on all five senses to ease your­self along the jour­ney to dream­land

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Style Sleep -

SEE

The re­sults are in and the stud­ies all say the same thing: the light that streams from elec­tronic de­vices has a neg­a­tive ef­fect on sleep, cir­ca­dian rhythms and morn­ing alert­ness lev­els. Smart­phones, tablets and lap­tops all emit a blue light – ben­e­fi­cial in day­light hours, as it boosts at­ten­tion and im­proves your mood, but bad news after sun­down, as it causes the brain to stop pro­duc­ing the sleep-in­duc­ing hor­mone mela­tonin, which tells the brain it’s bed­time. Ap­ple of­fers its ‘Night Shift’ set­ting, which makes the colour of the dis­play warmer and can be sched­uled to turn on au­to­mat­i­cally. Android has a sim­i­lar ‘Night Light’ func­tion, and most other brands have some form of ‘night mode’ to al­low you to check your phone with­out dis­rupt­ing your body’s sleep prepa­ra­tion.

SMELL

In­cor­po­rat­ing a cer­tain smell into your bed­time rou­tine over time can make you nat­u­rally drowsy, as the brain learns to as­so­ciate the fra­grance with sleep. There are also spe­cific scents that are known for their slum­berin­duc­ing prop­er­ties. ‘Cer­tain es­sen­tial oils can help us to re­lax and im­prove the qual­ity of our sleep,’ ex­plains Anne Mur­ray, an aro­mather­apy expert at Aro­mather­apy As­so­ciates. ‘One of the most widely stud­ied is laven­der, which has a long his­tory of use for re­duc­ing anx­i­ety and help­ing in­som­ni­acs. Stud­ies show that it can lower your blood pres­sure, re­duce lev­els of the stress hor­mone cor­ti­sol, and have a gen­er­ally calm­ing ef­fect on the ner­vous sys­tem.’ Other well-known es­sen­tial oils that con­trib­ute to sleep in­clude san­dal­wood and chamomile. Try burn­ing Neom’s ‘Tran­quil­lity’ can­dle from its ‘Scent to Sleep’ range (£45; neo­mor­gan­ics.com) – a blend of 19 es­sen­tial oils – two hours be­fore you want to nod off, for a nightly hit of English laven­der, sweet basil and jas­mine.

TASTE

What you put in your body at the end of the day is im­por­tant when it comes to get­ting a solid slum­ber. ‘Try to eat your evening meal at around 7pm – it gives your sys­tem time to process ev­ery­thing ef­fi­ciently, so that dur­ing sleep, your body can fo­cus on rest and re­plen­ish­ment,’ says Lily Simp­son, founder of The Detox Kitchen. Dan Parr, co- founder of Clip­per Tea, rec­om­mends a nightly brew: ‘the act of drink­ing a cup of tea at around the same time each night can act as a psy­cho­log­i­cal trig­ger for wind-down in prepa­ra­tion for sleep’. Try Clip­per’s ‘Snore & Peace’ in­fu­sion, which con­tains lemon balm, laven­der and chamomile (£2.25 for 20 bags, clip­per-teas.com).

HEAR

Ly­ing in bed can be the only time the mind is able to wan­der, so it’s not sur­pris­ing that it can be dif­fi­cult to switch off. Hav­ing some­thing re­lax­ing to fo­cus on can help to calm your thoughts – which is why reading in bed is so med­i­ta­tive. How­ever, upon clos­ing the book and shut­ting your eyes, the brain can of­ten re-awaken. En­ter the pod­cast. There are many sleep-in­duc­ing shows avail­able: tune in to ‘Ra­dio Headspace’ to drift off to talks on mind­ful­ness, al­tru­ism and cre­ativ­ity ( headspace.com), try ‘Med­i­ta­tion Minis’ for short guided med­i­ta­tions to calm anx­i­ety and neg­a­tive think­ing (med­i­ta­tion­mi­nis.com), or head to ‘Sleep With Me Pod­cast’, which sends you to sleep with sto­ries that get pro­gres­sively more bor­ing (sleep­with­me­pod­cast.com).

TOUCH

Phys­i­cally pre­par­ing the body for sleep will en­able you to drift off that much more quickly. James Reeves, teacher at Lon­don prac­tice Triyoga and spe­cial­ist in Yoga Nidra – which trans­lates as ‘ Yogic Sleep’ – rec­om­mends the Ut­tanasana ‘wall hang’ as a pre-bed­time stretch. ‘Start with your heels a foot’s length away from a wall, with your hips, up­per back and the back of your head touch­ing the wall be­hind you,’ he ex­plains. ‘Be­gin a slow roll down through the spine so that the head hangs for­ward, then the shoul­ders, and then your up­per body hang­ing from your hips (which are rest­ing against the wall). Bend your knees on the way. Once your head is low, let out three long ‘ahh’ sounds – the slower the bet­ter. Roll back up just as slowly. This will re­duce your blood pres­sure and pre­pare the body for sleep’ (triyoga.co.uk ).

‘The act of drink­ing a cup of tea at around the same time each night can act as a psy­cho­log­i­cal trig­ger for wind-down in prepa­ra­tion for sleep’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.