The concept of ‘wellness’ is a pretty broad one by all accounts. I’ve tried all kinds of things in an attempt to glow as hard as G-Paltrow, Gooping up my life to the extreme in the name of beauty and wellness blogging. Some things of course, have failed to leave me feeling any healthier, happier or more zen than before but others have been truly life changing.
My latest foray into the world of wellness concerns sleep. We all know that lack of sleep affects the body negatively – from general fatigue to skin problems, anxiety to glycemic issues – but what we usually fail to consider is that the quality and timing of your downtime and your pre and post-sleep routines is just as important as the quantity of sleep you’re getting each night.
You might think practicing wellness while you sleep sounds impossible. I was certainly a little sceptical about it but as the nights are growing longer, colder and the daylight hours are dwindling, my sleeping patterns have been all over the shop and I’ve been feeling way more tired than I’d like. What’s more, I’ve always struggled with Seasonal Affective Disorder so the onset of autumn has seen my mood drop.
I’m one of those people who dreads their alarm going off in the morning. I’ve used all kinds of alarm devices, music and the radio but waking up to noise invariably stresses me out. Alarms usually trigger a stress response in your brain, alerting you that something is wrong and causing cortisol the stress hormone to spike. If this is happening before you’ve even fully opened your eyes, you’re probably not going to starting the day feeling your best.
I’d read that sunrise and sunset-simulating lamps can not only wake the body in a natural and relaxed way but can also really help with SAD. I set myself a challenge using a Lumie Bodyclock Spark 100 and promised myself that I’d wind down and wake up using light therapy every day from the start of September. No alarms, no stress spikes, just a gentle sunset and sunrise emitting from a sleek little unit that actually looks pretty lovely beside my bed.
All Lumie lamps are Class I Medical Devices which means they have some pretty wonderful health benefits. Waking up using light therapy has been proven to maintain natural circadian rhythms and boost mood, energy and productivity levels. Waking up to light also helps to alleviate the symptoms of SAD while a sunset simulator promotes the production of the sleep hormone melatonin making it easier to drift off. I’m basically a Lumie fanatic now and can’t imagine waking up any other way.
What you do in the hours leading up to bedtime can really improve your sleep wellness and help you to feel healthier overall. Shutting off phones, laptops, tablets and TVs at least an hour before bed will release your brain from the state of alertness that blue light-emitting devices like this promote. If you have time, exercising before bed is great for helping you to sleep too. I’m not talking a full-on gym sesh, unless that’s your bag. Some simple stretching and cardio-based exercises for just 15 minutes will boost circulation and happy hormones, helping you to rest better.
Believe it or not, what you wear to bed and what you sleep on can affect how well you feel too. I’ve always been a big fan of natural breathable fabrics, or nothing at all. Avoiding synthetic materials means your body will be more capable of regulating its temperature so you can sleep deeper and avoid waking up groggy and stressed out in the middle of the night. If I’m rocking pyjamas I absolutely love Look & Cover for 100% cotton pieces in gorgeous colours – see them on my Instagram. I’m also a sucker for anything with a cute little monogram because that’s just the kind of girl I am.
I also recently started sleeping on a silk pillowcase and no, this isn’t because I’m high maintenance, there’s plenty of sleep science behind this one too. I’ve read so many pieces on the benefits of sleeping on silk. Beauty editors have recommended silk pillowcases for hair and skincare for years and after road testing a luxuriously soft number by Charlotte & Co. for a month, I’ve noticed a difference in my sleep quality, my temperature regulation, there’s less pressure on my skin whilst I sleep and my hair doesn’t kink and break like it used to when I slept on it.
Charlotte & Co. specialise in gorgeous silk products intended to help you sleep better, from eye masks to pyjamas but I especially love the brand’s chamomile and lavender pillow spray. I used to use an essential oil diffuser but found the scent a little cloying and intense. I’ve since been using the spray on my bed linen and pyjamas and found it so fresh and soothing. Plus those scents remind me of picking sprigs from the big lavender bush in the back garden when I was a kid which is a really happy memory and always leaves me feeling chilled.
Since I started all my sleep wellness experiments the quality of my rest has been so much better and my skin and hair have looked better too. I didn’t really think any of the things I’d read about or had been recommended would make much of a difference so I’m mildly surprised to admit that I’m now a pretty strong advocate for sleep wellness. Have you tried anything to improve your health, happiness and sleep that really worked? Let me know in the comments below.