This post is written in partnership with New Chapter, however all opinions are my own. I only work with and recommend companies whose products I love, and I’m so excited to share these with you!
I love to sleep. Sleep is sacred to me, I protect my 8 hours a night fiercely, and I ask my clients to do the same.
And for good reason. Sleep is one of my key tenets of optimum health, and without consistent, restful, restorative sleep we can suffer from reduced cognitive function, an impaired immune system (studies show you are nine times more likely to fall ill at cold and flu season), an increased risk of inflammation, and even reduced longevity. But in our modern day, 24/7, hyper connected lives sleep is becoming harder and harder to prioritize, and our health is suffering from it.
One of the main reasons for this is that we are neglecting to manage our cortisol levels (our stress and energy hormone) throughout the day, leaving us super switched on but exhausted by the time we think about ‘winding down’ before bed. A healthy cortisol curve is one that is high in the morning (giving us a boost of energy), stable during the day, and lowers in the late afternoon and evening, preparing you for a night of restful and restorative sleep. Our cortisol curve is governed by our circadian rhythm, which is in turn is governed by zeitgeibers (think of these such as regulators) such as light, heat, food, exercise and social interaction. When these regulators are out of sync with our natural rhythms (i.e. those bright lights and loud music at your 8.30pm spinning class), or the blue light that stimulates your pineal gland as you scroll through social media just before you go to bed, we upset the natural balance of our regulatory endocrine system.
However, ensuring great sleep every night is not impossible, in fact just by implementing some of tips I share below you can establish a healthy sleep routine that will boost your energy, brain power, and all-round health and vitality!
Keep It Consistent
Even more important than getting your six to eight hours a night is to go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time, seven days a week (yes, even at the weekends). You may have a little flexibility (30 minutes at the most), but consistency is key to quality sleep. If getting to sleep in the evenings is a challenge try moving your bedtime forward 15 minutes every week for a month to help you adjust gradually to the change.
Know Your Chronotype
We used to identify with 2 sleep/wake personalities, the early bird or the night owl, but the fascinating research from Michael J Breus, Ph.D. has identified 4 personalities, or chronotypes. Your chronotype affects everything from the best time to go to sleep and wake up, to workout, eat, drink coffee, and even sit for a test or interview for a job! I am a Lion chronotype which means that I am at my best early in the morning (I’m usually up by 5.30 at the latest without an alarm), but also means I am in bed by 8pm every night!
You can find your chronotype at: https://thepowerofwhenquiz.com/
Manage Stress Throughout The Day
I know this is easier said than done, but getting a great night of sleep starts from the minute we open our eyes that morning. Managing our stress levels throughout the day ensures lower cortisol levels by the late afternoon and evening, which is key to regulate all of the bodily processes we need to fall asleep (melatonin production, lowering of body temperature, slowing of metabolism) at night.
I ask my clients to create a ‘toolbox’ of simple de-stressing solutions that they can use throughout the day and these can include breathing exercises than calm the central nervous system such as Box Breathing (inhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts), inhaling the scent of lavender essential oil (lavender has been clinically proven to reduce stress levels), eating a couple of squares of magnesium-rich dark chocolate (this is my favourite), or lying with your legs up against the wall for a few minutes.
Reduce Blue Light Exposure
Blue light, the type emitted by our laptops, tablets, phones and TV screens stimulates our pineal gland, a tiny endocrine organ nestled deep in the brain that regulates the production of melatonin. When it is stimulated by blue light coming in through the retina via the hypothalamus and the central nervous system it reduces production of melatonin, one of the major hormones that helps us get to sleep.
I ask my clients to limit blue light exposure in the 2 hours before bedtime, and many of our devices now have daytime/nighttime settings that help us do this, reducing the blue light emission and having the screens take on a warmer color. I also love to wear blue blocking glasses after sunset as I am especially sensitive to blue light, and will also wear these whilst travelling and changing time zones to help regulate melatonin production.
Take Targeted Sleep Supplements
With a heavy travel schedule and frequent trips to and from London, even this sleep loving Lion sometimes needs a little help maximising sleep quality. New Chapter’s Turmeric Force™ Nighttime is a targeted blend of herbs including Chamomile, Valerian Root, Hops and Lemon Balm, that supports the type of deep restful sleep* that is imperative for optimum health.
I also love that it does double duty by managing my body’s healthy inflammatory response whilst I sleep with whole food Ginger and Turmeric to support healthy aging*. Simply take two capsules an hour before bed (I keep mine on my bedside table and take before I read in the evening – whilst blocking blue light, of course) for a health boosting night of restful and restorative sleep.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.