Do you struggle to get to sleep or wake up in the mornings? Well, the good news is that you are not alone; the bad news is that you need to improve your sleep quality.
Do you ever feel tired, stressed, bloated, mentally flat, unfocussed, or unmotivated? Are you frustrated about not losing weight despite eating well and training hard? Do you find yourself in that daily 3 p.m. slump, reaching for a coffee and something sweet?
Sleep is a vital, often neglected, component of every person’s overall health and wellbeing. On average we spend one-third of our lives sleeping. So why are we all so sleep-deprived?
The answer is simple – we’re not sleeping the way we should. In addition, poor sleep quality is effectively blocking our bodies from achieving optimal health, mentally and physically.
‘Without sleep, there is low energy and disease. With sleep, there is vitality and health’ – Mathew Walker
Table of Contents
Why are we so sleep-deprived?
I’ve been reading an eye-opening book called Why We Sleep by Mathew Walker and he explains how lack of sleep hijacks the body’s effective control of blood sugar, meaning that we become less responsive to insulin, increasing the prediabetic state of hyperglycemia’.
As a matter of fact, he also mentions that ‘when your sleep becomes short, you are susceptible to weight gain. Among the reasons for this are the fact that if you don’t improve your sleep quality, it decreases levels of the satiety-signaling hormone, leptin, and increases levels of the hunger-signaling hormone, ghrelin’.
I should mention that sleep deprivation is not the sole cause of the obesity crisis, however, processed food and sedentary lifestyles cannot be the only factors. Something is missing and it’s now clear that lack of sleep is that third ingredient.
Furthermore, stressful working hours are also a constant issue. Not only the porous borders between when you start and finish but longer commute times, too.
Additionally, no one wants to give up time with their loved ones or entertainment, so they give up sleep instead. Then there’s the rise in anxiety, which plays a huge role in sleep deprivation.
We’re a lonelier, more depressed society. Alcohol, as well as caffeine, are therefore consumed more than ever; both of which are the enemies of sleep.
It’s funny because we all spend a fortune on coffee (especially in London!), but how much do we spend on our sleep?
How do you improve sleep quality?
Yes, we can all drink less coffee and cut down on the late nights but we need to dig way deeper than that if we are looking to gain the following health benefits many of us are constantly chasing:
- Improved mood
- Clearer skin
- Fewer wrinkles
- Stronger immune systems
- Fat loss
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Better focus
- Improved relationships
Let’s start with your bed
Certainly, there’s no magic potion for a terrible mattress or pillows. A good night’s sleep starts with the mattress. If you’ve had your mattress for 5 to 7 years, check for lumps and wear. Get a new one. Pillows are packed with bugs, dead skin cells, dust mites, and their feces. Indeed. According to the Sleep Council of the UK, after two years, these unpleasant bedfellows might make up a third of your pillow’s weight. They eat dead skin and thrive in warm, humid locations like beds. Furthermore, experts recommend replacing pillows every two to three years. Recommendations:
1. Silk-filled Hypoallergenic Pillows by Lily Silk
A great luxury alternative to traditional feather-filled pillows, and comfortable for both front and back sleepers.
2. John Lewis 2-way Memory Foam Standard Support Pillow
Super support for side sleepers at a great price.
3. V-Shaped Wool Pillow from Ava Innes
The sumptuous all-rounder from a great British brand. You can even buy extra filling to adjust them to your desired firmness. Pair with their Cashmere & Wool All Year Round Duvet for an incomparable sleep experience under this perfectly balanced duvet. Also, it is excellent for heat-regulation too.
4. Rested Slim Equilibrium Pillow
Front sleepers have a pretty hard time finding pillows designed specifically for them, but this one is perfect. A low, tapered design, this is truly revelatory for those who sleep front down.
5. Hungarian Goose Down All Season Duvet
Sometimes the feel of a down duvet or pillows is a sensation that simply cannot be forgone. I love that this offering from Scooms alleviates my worries about animal cruelty as all their products are ethically sourced as well as delivery is plastic free. Also, the quality is superb and the duvet is supremely comforting.
Set The Environment:
If you find yourself tossing as well as turning regularly at night, it may be that your sleeping environment isn’t conducive to a good night’s sleep. Making some small adjustments could make all the difference to improve your sleep quality. See below:
1. Sleepy Sprays and Masks
2. Dauphin Vetiver Stress Relief Mask
Lavender and camomile pillow spray I find this more complex than other pillow sprays, with fragrances, notes that all help you drift off once your head hits the pillow
CBD pillow mist Yes, the ubiquitous CBD has even made its way into pillow mist. Also, this version though pricey is one that I have tried and found highly effective.
Sounds That Soothe to Improve Sleep Quality
1. Bang Olufsen
Beoplay A9 has Such a stylish, and of course phenomenally sound quality as you’d expect from this brand. Great for larger bedrooms!
2. Sonos Five
Discreet design, but superb sound quality especially for the price. I find the sound from these speakers totally immersive and great for playing your favourite sleep sounds.
3. Amazon Echo Studio
From playing jungle sounds or your favourite podcast to sending you to sleep, Alexa is indispensable to many a household. I love this latest iteration of the Echo.
4. Chirp Alarm Clock & Wake Up Light
If you abhor your unreasonably aggressive alarm tones try investing in this elegant little thing. Will wake you up gradually to a warm glow and poetic nature sounds.
5. Lumie Bodyclock Luxe 750DAB
So many useful features packed into one bedside gadget, this is a great product. Creates a soothing ambience and will be a blessing on dark, winter mornings.
Night Time Teas to Improve Sleep Quality
1. T2 sleep tight herbal tea
Has become somewhat of a cult product and rightly so, this is excellent at reducing anxiety and calming you, an essential addition to improving your sleep quality.
2. Dr. Stuart’s Valerian Tea
I love this because it’s so widely available and the price isn’t extortionate. A reliable and potent tea will help you wind down in the evenings.
3. Sleep Welle Calming Tea
A seriously impressive product. Containing a plethora of different soporific ingredients this is perfect to help combat insomnia and encourage deep, restorative rest.
Increase Your Greens to Improve Sleep Quality
Diet affects sleep. Regular, well-balanced meals with protein, healthy (unsaturated) fats, slow-releasing carbs, as well as fiber are vital for general health and wellbeing.
At least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day are recommended, especially dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, rocket, etc.) As a matter of fact, Magnesium helps calm your nervous system and helps improve your sleep quality.
It may reduce anxiety and despair, which disrupt sleep. 2-3 fist-sized servings of leafy greens daily. If you struggle to eat enough greens, try a green powder. My suggestions:
1. Terranova ‘Life Drink
One of my favourite brands and now an award-winning green power, containing a staggering array of naturally-occurring phytonutrients, micronutrients, balanced protein, enzymes, probiotics, essential fatty acids, and much more. They also do a fantastic range for children called ‘Sneaky Greens’.
2. Garden of life ‘Raw Organic Perfect Food Green Superfood’
Packed with 34 nutrient-dense, raw as well as organically grown greens, juiced at the farm within an hour of harvesting.
3. Pukka ‘Clean Greens Superblend’
An impressive blend of super-rich green foods including wheat grass juice, leaf, vegetables, seed sprouts, sea greens, freshwater plants as well as digestive herbs naturally support the body’s ability to cope better with our polluted environment.
Consider Taking Supplements To Improve Sleep Quality
As a nutritional therapist, I’m a big believer in taking high-quality supplements alongside a well-balanced diet to support our bodies on a much deeper level and achieve desired results faster. So if you require a little extra help to improve your sleep quality, consider trying the following sleep-promoting supplements:
1. Cytoplan Cytonight
Cytonight is a powder that can be mixed in a small amount of water or juice at bedtime. It contains the key ingredients glycine, Montmorency cherry, magnesium as well as hops. Montmorency cherry is a natural source of melatonin.
2. Better You – Magnesium Goodnight Spray
Combines essential magnesium with chamomile, bergamot as well as clary sage to soothe the senses while calming and relaxing the body.
It replaces magnesium lost through modern diet and pressured lifestyles, helping you to achieve deep, restful sleep.
3. Motion Nutrition – Unplug
Unplug is your de-stressor. It eases your mind and brings you home. Using traditional nootropic herbs scientifically combined with micronutrients for holistic stress relief, Unplug creates a sense of calm vitality – a perfect little sleep companion.
4. Chillout Fred – CBD oil 2000mg
We’re just beginning to open our eyes to the important role that CBD oil can have in regulating key body functions such as appetite, pain, mood, memory, inflammation, fat as well as energy metabolism as well as sleep. Also, just a couple of drops in the morning and evening are all you need to feel the effect of this magical stuff.
10 Simple Evening Routine Ideas
In order to achieve consistently good sleep, you should really be thinking about creating an evening routine. Here are a few simple, but game-changing ideas:
1. Avoid screen time 1 hour before bed
This includes mobile phones, tablets, computer screens as well as TV. Research has found that blue light from screens interferes with the production of melatonin, the all-important sleep-inducing hormone.
When melatonin is suppressed, it is much harder to both fall asleep and helps to improve your sleep quality. TIP: Set a reminder on your phone 1 hour before bed to put away/turn off your device(s).
2. Get everything ready to improve sleep quality
An organisation always feels great.
3. Writing a to-do list for the next day
This will help to avoid that annoying mental chatter that can keep you wide awake for hours.
4. Have an Epsom salt bath with lavender essential oil
Epsom salts are great for sore muscles as well as essential oils are incredible for relaxation.
5. Dim the lights in your bedroom and play some relaxing sounds
(refer to speaker recommendations) – hello, the home spa feels. Moreover, think of this as a little daily treat for yourself, because you absolutely deserve it.
6. Have some herbal tea to improve sleep quality
(See recommendations) – keep switching it up as each one has different qualities.
7. Time for some pillow spray
This will increase those lovely, sleepy feelings, reduce stress and get you in the mood for sleep.
8. Journal for 5 mins
Just five minutes is really all you need to brain dump or document your feelings at the end of each day. The Five Minute Journal is my go-to.
9. Read for 10 mins to improve sleep quality
Not only is reading a great tool for relaxation but they say you can get through roughly 10 books per year by doing this!
10. Lights out before 10 pm
This will ensure you get enough quality sleep so try and be quite strict with yourself about this one.
Night-time Recipe to Improve Sleep Quality
Banana Peel tea
Certainly, banana peels are rich in potassium and magnesium, but can you imagine eating one? Making tea from a whole banana is a remarkable way to get all the benefits of these nutrients deliciously.
Also, drinking banana tea helps the blood vessels, as well as the muscles, relax, allowing you to fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep for longer. Also, after drinking the tea, try eating the banana, peel, and all – it’s surprisingly yummy.
- Bring a medium pan of water to a boil.
- Cut off the ends of one banana and place it in the water.
- Boil the banana for 10 minutes or so, until the peel is soft.
- Pour the water through a strainer into a mug and serve with a cinnamon stick.
Wrapping It Up
Indeed sleep does not just determine whether a person is weary or awake. Simply said, sleep can save your life. This is how crucial it is. Improving your sleep quality is necessary for the proper functioning of the mind and body.
It is one of the most vital factors in maintaining good health. Safety, as well as emotional and physical health, depend on adequate sleep.
In conclusion, for good health, adequate sleep should be a top concern!
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