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#AskAlfresco ... Sleep

Hi Sarah-Lou... Why do I always feel tired? I’m trying so hard to fall asleep every night but my head keeps racing. Any tips you can give me? Thanks, Olivia.

I’ve always been interested in sleep, we spend so much of our time doing it and yet we really don’t know anything about it! Unsurprisingly, women tend to get less sleep than men. It’s also known now that lack of sleep can contribute to increased risk of heart disease, increased stress and decreased productivity. I used to have lots of problems getting to sleep, so I read widely on the subject and I’ve learned that having a routine is the best way to make sure I’m sleeping well regularly. It’s much easier said than done, of course, but I try and be strict with myself because I find being tired so difficult to manage. Matt Walker, professor of neuroscience at the University of California, says that sticking to a sleep routine is best. If you change your sleep cycle over the weekend, then “Come Sunday evening, you face the need to drag that rhythm back several hours, which is biologically stressful for brain and body. It’s social jetlag – the equivalent of flying back and forth from London to Moscow every week.” I also make sure to always stay away from screens before bed. This is probably the thing I’m strictest about. Screens emit a blue light that drastically reduces the quality of your sleep. If you absolutely can’t stay away from your computer or your phone, then download an app which changes the colours on your screen to make them more night-time friendly. I use f.lux. I drink a calming tea every night before bed- my favourite brand is Celestial Seasoning, it has chamomile, spearmint, lemongrass, tilia flowers and some other delicious and unusual ingredients. I stay away from caffeine, but when I’m craving coffee I drink a coffee substitute made from barley. My favourite is ‘The Herbs’. They have the taste of coffee but with none of the jitters! My sleepy soundtrack is the Chakra Healing Music Academy. I love their album ‘Japanese Zen Garden’ on Spotify. Lastly, I try to regularly practice yoga nidra. Yoga nidra, or "yogi sleep," is a sleep-like state experienced during a lengthy meditation. It is very calming, and good for physical relaxation as well as emotional unwinding.  You can learn more about it here.The most important thing is to stay calm and relaxed – nothing stops me from sleeping more than worrying about sleeping! This is, however, a really difficult thing to achieve, and for those nights when sleep is feeling absolutely impossible, I use Dormeasan, a herbal sleeping aid. It can make you incredibly drowsy so take them sparingly and be extra careful when you do. Sleep well! Sarah-Lou xxx