We’ve heard more than once that eight is the magic number of sleep hours we should strive for every night. But when you consider long office hours, endless social commitments, an obsession with Nexflix, and even after-work exercise, getting that amount of shut-eye on the regular can seem elusive. The symptoms of sleep deprivation can be significant. If you’re lacking zs, you could be dealing with everything from cravings (we’re no strangers to a 3 p.m. chocolate binge), to irritability, and a foggy brain as a result.
This is because, according to nutritionist Teresa Cutter of The Healthy Chef, it’s next to impossible to “reach our healthiest self if we don’t get enough sleep”.
In today’s fast-paced society, it can be incredibly difficult to wind down after a big day. In a bid to create some zen on the home front, we’ve turned to Cutter’s best advice on how to get closer to eight hours of restful sleep. From snooze-inducing essential oils to healthy hot chocolate, these tips will have you nodding off in no time.
Keep scrolling for the four things a nutritionist always does before bed.
#1: Follows a bedtime ritual
Establishing a pre-bed ritual is important as it serves as a nightly cue to your brain that it’s time to prepare for sleep. An hour before you hit the sack, switch off your emails and social media so you can spend 60 minutes purely focused on yourself. Cutter says she finds practicing a little self-care is the perfect way to wind down for the night: “I love a nice warm Epsom salts bath scented with a few drops of lavender oil.” If a leisurely bath is unrealistic (or you don’t have a tub), try adding a few drops of In Essence Sleep Easy Essential Oil Blend ($26) to a damp washer and placing it over the drain in your shower.
The steam will carry the scent up and around the room for a soothing effect.
#2: Drinks Something Calming
Caffeine-free herbal teas are always a great option for a relaxing tipple, but if you feel like taking it up a notch, Cutter suggests sipping a healthy hot chocolate. (Her recipe uses The Healthy Chef’s Naked Chocolat Powder, $25, a Byrdie Australia favourite). “This drink is comforting, nourishing and full of magnesium from the cacao, which helps calm the nervous system,” she says. If you’re feeling a little fluey, try a turmeric latte instead to help reduce inflammation and boost your immune system.
#3: Avoids overeating at dinner
Cutter explains that since your metabolism slows down by late afternoon, a light dinner is your best bet for preventing unnecessary stress on your digestive system. (You know, the kind that keeps you up at night.) Stick to a menu of stodge-free meals, and try to finish eating by 7:30 p.m. to give your digestion a chance to do its thing. Grilled fish, vegetable-based dishes, and light soups are all great options, as is a protein-based smoothie.
#4: Releases stress and anxiety
This tip is particularly important for a peaceful night’s sleep if you find it difficult to turn off racing thoughts. If it’s been a particularly long or rough day, take half an hour once you’re home to sit in a quiet space and focus on breathing. For guidance, try an app like The Mindfulness App to walk you through a short meditation or check out YouTube for a simple yoga sequence. Even a 15-minute walk can help clear your head and reset your frame of mind. If work-related issues are playing on your mind, make a to-do list for the following day.
Once you’re done, step away, and leave it until morning. (We use notebooks from An Organised Life for this very exercise.)