Written by iCandy Guest Blogger and Baby & Toddler Sleep Consultant, Charlotte Hillyard:
If you are anything like me, then you are probably working your way through the many tins of leftover chocolate whilst trying to figure out where all the new toys your little one has got, will go. Yikes! You are also probably a little weary from a few late nights whilst visiting family and friends, eating WAY too much food and not forgetting a glass of fizz or two. Did someone say cheeseboard?! But, whilst the festivities are a great time filled with so much joy, they are also an exhausting time for some, with quality of sleep being affected. So, how can you get your body back to its best to optimise your sleep and your health in 2023?
Well, great sleep starts with a great sleep environment. In caveman days we slept in dark, cool caves, away from the threat of animals. This instinctive environment set-up still plays a significant role in signalling sleep to our bodies, even today. This is because a dark room cues the release of the sleepy hormone, Melatonin. Ideally you would want the temperature to be anywhere between 16-21c. This is especially important for young babies as it reduces the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), as overheating is a known factor.
Exercising in the daytime can reduce ‘sleep onset’ (the time it takes to go to sleep) meaning exercising will help you fall asleep faster. It can also improve our quality of sleep and is a well-known stress reliever. Exercise has been proven to help children as well, with studies showing that physical activity in the daytime can lead to children sleeping for longer at night.
Increasing your intake of Magnesium rich foods such as bananas, dark chocolate, avocados, almonds, leafy greens etc can also result in an improvement in your sleep. Magnesium plays an active role in the nervous system, meaning it can help to relax and calm us. You can even add Epsom salts to your bath – this is a great way to raise magnesium levels.
AND if you still have leftover turkey in the freezer, this is great too! Turkey contains Tryptophan which is a type of amino acid and is great in promoting good sleep and a good mood. Makes sense why we all fall asleep post Chrimbo dinner now, right?!
Set yourself (and your children) a consistent sleep routine. I know when we think of a bedtime routine, we think of our children, however this can be hugely beneficial for us too! Having a wind down routine and going to sleep at a similar time each night can really help the body adjust and prepare itself for sleep, meaning it cuts down on the amount of time spent waiting to fall asleep. Try also waking up at similar time each day as well. Our circadian rhythm thrives on consistency and by waking up at a similar time each day, you are anchoring your body and setting yourself up well for the day ahead.
So, why not treat yourself to some much-needed self-care and prioritise (where possible) getting those much-needed zzz’s this Festival of Sleep day. Switch off your phone, slow down the pace and get those pjs on as soon as you can. You will reap the benefits and see the positive impact on both your physical and mental health.
Charlotte Hillyard is the founder and CEO of 'The Gift of Sleep' and she is passionate about helping families to improve their little ones' sleep. Mum of one and based in Essex, Charlotte helps families via her 1-2-1 support package services, Sleep Clinic sessions and with the MIND charity on their local programme 'Mums Matter'. Charlotte also offers 'The Gift Of Sleep' unique gifting boxes and vouchers, which enables you to gift a little bit of sleepy dust to a friend.
Free Facebook Support Group: Sleepy Mummas Support Group