How to become a sleeping beauty
Fitness & Health
- Published on Friday, 18 February 2022 11:05
- Last Updated on 31 March 2022
- Monica Costa
Over the past 20 odd years, I have constantly tried to rebuild my relationship with sleep after turning into a poor sleeper following the premature death of my father in 2002. Remedies to improve my sleep quality have included acupuncture, luxury mattress, sleeping tablets (both natural and medical), yoga, mediation, various breathing techniques, essential oils, silk sleep mask, ear plugs, Himalayan salt lamp and an air purifying device. It cannot be said that I don’t persevere in my task to go back to the sleep quality I had prior to 2002.
Unsurprisingly, my sleep problems started when I came to live in London. Official government data on light pollution, noise complaints and anxiety levels across the eleven regions of Great Britain has revealed that London is the UK region where people are least likely to get a good night’s sleep. The same data shows that Wales and the South West are the regions where sleep may be of the highest quality.
My new journey to drastically improve my sleep quality has started with the trial of a new sleep aid, SleepHub® home. At first I did not know what to think of it. But over a couple of months, my fitness watch has started registering an increased quality of sleep. The result that is even more important for me is the energy I now have as a result of using this technology. I have to explain how it works first as it isn’t so intuitive.
The process started with a check-up: I took a 1 minute free sleep assessment online to help the team at SleepHubs to recommend next steps. It tests for the 2 most common sleep disorders, Insomnia and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea using just a handful of questions. This tool was developed because there was no easy way to measure sleep without the need for lengthy questionnaires and even overnight studies in clinics. After taking the SleepHubs check-up, I received a report highlighting any potential risks such as insomnia.
Since receiving the devices, I have found out quite a few things about my sleep patterns.
Normal sleep cycles should always appear in a specific sequence, however poor sleep habits, lifestyle factors and other circumstances can disrupt healthy sleeping patterns. Over time, our brain can forget the correct sequence and this is where difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep can take hold.
SleepHub® works by playing pure tones, the so-called ‘sleep sounds’. These are psychoacoustic sounds with sinusoidal waveforms to be exact! Exclusive to SleepHub®, sleep sounds emulate the waves created by the brain during sleep cycles to help you fall asleep and improve your quality of sleep. SleepHub® sleep sounds guides our brain through the sequence of healthy sleep cycles, so you get the quality of sleep you need in a consistent and optimal way.
Regular and repeated use of SleepHub® has helped me to retrain my brain to produce the right sleep sequence and restore sleeping patterns naturally.
Using SleepHub® to achieve better sleep allowed me to address my problems with sleep, rather than just masking them. The concept behind is very simple: When you start to regain natural sleep patterns and optimise your sleep through regular and repeated use of SleepHub® the benefits I have experienced include:
- Feeling more relaxed at bedtime
- Drifting to sleep easier
- Waking less frequently
- Getting back to sleep quicker if you do wake up
- Feeling more refreshed when you get up
- Reduced daytime tiredness
- Better mental, cognitive and physical performance during waking hours
- Stress reduction in everyday life
- Increase in focus
- Overall wellbeing.
I have used SleepHub® repeatedly and regularly with the exception of two weeks when I was travelling to Costa Rica. But it was during those two weeks that I noticed that my sleep patterns had already been restored. Despite the winter heat sun, I slept like a baby while on holiday. The best way to break any bad habit is with repetition of a good one and, like any training, this improvement builds over time.
I hope the crowdfunding campaign to launch SleepHub® Anywhere this Spring 2022 will be successful as I would like to take this device everywhere. If you want to support them – like I have – the campaign is live at Indiegogo.com. The new portable sleep device would feature the same proven technology found in SleepHub® home.
New products to improve sleep quality
This Works has launched a Baby Sleep range which includes various natural, vegan and proven-to-work bedtime products, which claims to help prepare the future generation of good sleepers. In my effort to make a difference in my sleeping patterns I have introduced a pillow spray to my bedtime routine. If the range calms down a baby it can soothe me too.
The Baby Sleep solutions are at least 98% natural and have been expertly blended to meet the high standards of paediatricians. With a functional fragrance of Lavender and Camomile with Lemon Balm Extract alongside gentle but effective moisturisers help to create a cocoon of calm that paves the way for better sleep and smoother bedtime transitions, while allowing you to switch off more easily once baby is down.
The range includes a pillow spray, gentle wash, body lotion, massage oil and bottom balm, with prices ranging between £10 and £19.50.
Over the past few months, I noticed that it helped me to improve my sleep quality also by finding moments of stillness between the chaos and clutter. Relaxing my constantly busy mind during the day, makes me sleep much better and for longer stretches of time. To support this effort, I have started taking Pukka’s new Inner Peace and Night Time herbal supplements.
These contain a synergistic blend of naturally relaxing herbs including:
- Chamomile: Chamomile helps to calm and soothe the body and mind and soothe the digestive system.
- Oat flowering tops soothe and calm the nervous system.
- Lavender: Traditionally used to support restful sleep, lavender soothes anxiety and for inner calm as well as prevent frequent waking.
- Ashwagandha: A strengthening yet calming adaptogenic herb that helps to nourish and relax, supporting long term resilience and enabling the body to maintain sleep.
- Valerian: A popular sleep-supporting herb with sedative and anxiety-relieving properties. Valerian can help us to drop off to sleep and encourage undisturbed sleep.
- Gotu Kola: A herb traditionally used to gently ease an agitated and racing mind.
Available for RRP £24.99 from Amazon.com and Pukkaherbs.com
Foods to avoid eating before bed
Over the years, I have learnt which foods I need to avoid eating before heading to bed.
Certain foods like dried fruit, tomatoes and ice cream, no matter how tempting, have been proven to make sleep trickier.
Unsurprisingly, any kind of cheese is off the cards, as are curries and packets of crisps.
There are super high levels of caffeine in chocolate, making it a terrible choice for later in the evening and at night. Caffeine is more likely to cause rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, making you more likely to feel groggy in the morning.
Other foods and drinks containing caffeine, such as coffee, tea, and energy drinks should also be avoided for at least four to six hours before you plan on sleeping.
- Dried fruit
The fibre in fruit is great in moderation. However, when consumed at night it can leave people feeling bloated and gassy. Like fresh fruit, they also contain high levels of sugar, which can give you an energetic high.
While cheese is generally thought of as comfort food, it is one of the worst to eat before bed. Amino acids are found in lots of strong and aged cheeses, and they cause us to feel awake and alert. Also known as tyramine, it causes our bodies to feel alert through the adrenal gland, which releases the ‘fight or flight’ hormone.
The same goes for preserved and cured meats such as bacon, ham, and pepperoni.
The chemical capsaicin is often found in spicy foods like curries and hot sauces. It elevates body temperature by interfering with the body’s thermoregulation process. In turn, it can disrupt sleep, not to mention the high levels of energy required to digest spices.
No matter how tempting it is to have a sweet treat before bed, it’s a bad idea for anyone, especially those struggling to sleep. Sugary foods, like ice cream, cakes and sweets send blood sugar levels spiking, followed by a crash. This crash in blood sugar alerts the adrenals that there is an emergency, which, in turn, increases cortisol levels, and wakes the body from slumber.
Those desperate for a sweet fix before bed should consider having a banana, as they promote sleep. If the banana isn’t cutting it, mash it up and freeze it! It tastes surprisingly good.
Savoury snacks like nuts and crisps are known to dehydrate the body and increase water retention. As a result, sleep is more likely to be ‘superficial’ and disrupted. Long term, this will cause tiredness and fatigue.
Experts recommend staying away from salty foods at least three hours before bed to ensure a good night’s sleep.
Acidic foods like tomatoes should also be avoided before bed. They can cause reflux issues when you lay down. The same can be said for onions too. They sometimes cause pressure inside of the stomach and force acid into your oesophagus.
T2, the Aussie-born tea specialists, have recently launched a new tea for breastfeeding mothers, Milk Magic. Offering a helping hand to breastfeeding mothers, Milk Magic includes ingredients such as marshmallow root, fenugreek, fennel and nettle to help increase the production of breastmilk and aid digestion for both mum and baby. Extra flavours of nutmeg and vanilla make the tea delicious in flavour too. This tea is very tasteful and has a wonderful smell and is as good for breastfeeding mothers as for any mother who wishes to go to sleep easily.
Further features journaling my ‘sleeping beauty’ journey
What to do when sleep is disrupted
What to do when sleep is disrupted
7 Foods to Help You Sleep Better
How to buy a new mattress during a pandemic
What makes quality bedding?
Why Our Expectations of Child Sleep
Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London https://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums