Nutritionionist Danijela Unkovich of Healthy Always understands the importance of an effective sleep routine and recognises sleep habits can make a difference to your health. Danijela shares her top tips for getting the best night’s sleep, especially in the lead-up to the winter months ahead.
As winter approaches, the temptation to stay snug in bed under a cosy blanket is at an all-time high. With sleep so essential to our health and well-being, this change in season is the perfect time to reflect on our bedtime routines.
The time before bed and when we wake up in the morning, is precious, as it offers breathing space from the outside world. Giving consideration to our morning and evening routines, can improve our productivity in the morning and set the tone for the day ahead, as well as help us unwind and improve our quality of sleep in the evening.
There is no one-size fits all when it comes to a morning or evening routine - we all have different responsibilities, which impacts on how we need to spend our time. When creating a morning or evening routine, consider habits that will positively help you, yet still be totally workable within your lifestyle - sustainability is always key.
Here’s some ideas:
Wake up at a regular time. A good night’s rest begins the moment you wake. Rising at a consistent time helps reinforce the body's sleep-wake cycle, making it easier to get-up and get-going, as well as drift-off in the evening. Purposely waking a little earlier than usual creates space to organise yourself for the day ahead, leaving you feeling calmer in the morning.
Hit the pavement. Staying in bed as long as possible during winter, while repeatedly hitting the snooze-button, is oh-so tempting, but come evening we’re often so tired that we can’t bring ourselves to work-out. There are few things more transformative to our body and health than exercise - it boosts our mood and self-confidence, improves sleep and reduces the risk of disease. Try starting your day with some simple movement, like a morning walk. Exposure to early light when exercising outdoors is a natural and effective way to reset the body's sleep-wake cycle and boost alertness.
Make your bed. There’s nothing like hoping into a freshly made bed in the evening, especially after a long tiresome day. Spending a few minutes making your bed helps set a productive tone for the morning ahead. Your future self will thank you!
Enjoy a wholesome breakfast. Totally worth waking up early for! Breakfast helps ‘break-the-fast’ from the night before, fuelling our body with energy and nutrients for the morning ahead. Whenever possible take the time to sit and enjoy this morning meal. Aim to include protein-rich foods, as protein is slow to be digested and will help keep you feeling full into the morning. Try eggs on grainy toast with avocado, a fruit smoothie with protein powder, or a creamy bowl of oats topped with nuts, seeds and stewed fruit - the perfect warming bowl for winter!
Take a technology break. The light emitted from technological devices can impact the release of melatonin, our sleepy hormone (which we want oodles of before bed). Not only that, the bombardment of information we receive when scrolling through our social media feed can be pretty stimulating. Be really mindful of technology use around bedtime and try to keep your phone out of your room - if you’re needing an alarm, consider an old-school alarm clock or keep your phone on airplane mode.
Prepare a comfortable cosy sleep space. A comfortable room encourages a good night’s rest. Aim to make your sleeping space as much of a haven as possible - consider investing in a bed that supports your body, wear comfy PJ’s or light some candles. Make sure to add a cosy blanket or throw during winter to keep your bed at a good temperature.
Establish a relaxing wind down routine. It’s easy to take a busy mind and work to bed, however this can make it difficult to switch off and fall asleep. Before bed aim to wind-down, not wind-up, try incorporating a little you-time into your evening routine, by doing a relaxing activity to unwind. I love reading a book or gentle stretching.
Avoid caffeine. Certain foods and drinks can disrupt our sleep. Coffee, chocolate and certain teas, like green and black, contain a substance called caffeine, which is stimulatory, meaning it makes us feel alert and awake. Avoid caffeine after midday if your someone who has trouble sleeping - try instead decaf options or herbal tea. My favourite before bed is camomile.
Prepare yourself for the next morning. Lay out your work clothes or exercise gear, pack your bag for the next day or organise breakfast. This helps make the next morning a breeze!
Find out more information about the bed Danijela is sleeping on here.