We all know that to feel our best during the day we need to sleep well at night. The thing is, many of us don’t, as such National Sleep Awareness Week (8-14th March) and National Bed Month haven’t really registered in our consciousness. To remind yourself of what could secure you a blissful night’s rest we asked the author of a new sleep book to explains how he uses the acronym B.E.D as the key to getting sleeping patterns down to a fine art. This is his recipe for sleeping better.
‘Around 31-55% of sleep duration is based on genetics, the remainder, however, is influenced by everyday factors like your behaviour, environment and diet – or B.E.D habits’, says Rob Hobson, Nutritionist and author of The Art of Sleeping (HQ, £9.99).
If over time, you are routinely getting less than six hours a night Hobson points out this ‘can cause inflammation in the body and could potentially contribute to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.’
Frequently a poor sleeper himself Hobson says he noticed during the writing of his book how so many of us complain of sleeping badly but don’t really do anything about it and are often oblivious as to how we might be sabotaging our sleep.
Using his B.E.D acronym (Behaviour, Environment and Diet) he explains how these can all impact on the quality of your rest and what you can do to sleep better:
Find your rhythm
While Hobson acknowledges there is no one size fits all solution when it comes to sleep problems he says establishing a routine and some consistency when it comes to your bedroom habits should definitely reap rewards. As far as possible, go to bed and get up at roughly the same time every day. This will work with your circadian rhythms (your sleep/wake cycle or internal body clock). What won’t is lying in bed for hours at the weekend to offset any ‘sleep debt’ you feel you might have accrued in the week: ‘It’s working against what your body naturally wants to do’, he explains.
Create your chill out zone
It helps to have ‘a completely zen space that you can totally relax in’, says Hobson. To this end your bedroom should be a quiet, relaxing, clean and uncluttered space. You could do worse than take tips from hotel rooms – the quality of the bedding, pillows, bed and the soft lighting tend to all help to maximise your sleep. If you can replicate that sort of ambience a bit at home this should help create the right environment for better quality sleep.
Eat and drink yourself to sleep
As a Nutritionist Hobson has a special interest in how diet can aid sleep. He recommends we eat a varied and balanced diet generally but advises we also include plenty of foods that are rich in magnesium and/or B vitamins, which are involved with production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Good sources of magnesium include nuts and seeds, avocadoes, pulses, bananas and leafy greens. You can find B vitamins in meat, seafood, dairy products, seeds and many fortified products like breakfast cereals.. We all know it but often forget but try to avoid caffeine and/or alcohol close to bed as it will hinder your sleep. Ideally have a non-caffeinated herbal or fruit tea like camomile or lavender or sip tart cherry juice as your wind-down drink (cherries are a rich source of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, which is also thought to help dampen down anxiety). Try Healthspan Elite Performance Cherry, (30 sachets -£44.99.
Stamp out the sleep saboteurs
It’s not just what you eat and drink but also when you do that can affect the quality of your sleep, he points out, like eating large and/or fatty or spicy meals too close to bedtime. ‘If you’re prone to indigestion and/or heartburn it’s particularly important not to eat too late at night – the timing of your meals is really important.’ He adds that we probably underestimate the effect that having too much sugar can have on our sleep patterns. There is also recent research linking too much sugar to more restless and disrupted sleep.’ Similarly boozing before bed is not encouraged: ‘Alcohol can reduce night-time melatonin production, disrupt your Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep which is essential for learning and memory retention.
Ditto exercising too close to bedtime – although exercising is more beneficial than most drugs when it comes to insomnia, doing it just before bedtime can over-stimulate your body increasing alertness and hormones like adrenaline. And when it comes to digital devices and laptops Hobson advises powering down at least an hour before you turn in: ‘It’s not just the blue light that disrupts sleep but all the stuff you start thinking about when you log on.’
Supplements can help
‘I’ve tried lots of different supplements’, says Hobson. ‘Magnesium works for a lot of people – especially if they are not getting enough from their diet.’ Another supplement that appears to be helping others to better sleep is CBD Oil – increasing research appears to testify to its sleep-enhancing abilities – reducing muscle tension and anxiety and supporting REM sleep. Using this information, the clever people at Healthspan have created Night-Time CBD Oil Oral Drops, £22.95 – adding further sleep-friendly ingredients like hops, chamomile and lemon balm to CBD oil. I love adding this to a chocolate sleep tonic I make.
Dr Sarah Brewer Healthspan Medical Director advises ‘If people haven’t used any other of our CBD Oils before I recommend starting low and slow in terms of dosage.’
Here are a few of my other favourite sleep essentials that I use daily to help me sleep:
Lumie Bodyclock Shine 300 (£129 from John Lewis)
Weighted blanket (£149 from Gravity Blanket)
Magnesium Flakes Bath Salts (£8.95 for 1kg pouch from Healthspan)
Deep sleep pillow spray (£19.50 for 75ml from This Works)
Perfect Night’s Sleep Bath and Shower Drops (£40 from Neom Organics)
Lavender essential oil (£9.50 from Neal’s Yard)Last modified: June 10, 2021