I have to confess, I am not the world’s best sleeper. According to my mum I was the last baby in the hospital (yes I’m that old – from the days when they kept you in for a week after giving birth) to go to sleep at night, and the first one to wake up in the morning.
These days my mornings aren’t quite so early. And I’m working on making the nights not quite so late. I think my issue was (and is) that I didn’t want to miss out on what was going on around me. Which in modern terms translates to – just one more episode of the latest Netflix blockbuster, just one more minute checking social media, just one more chapter of my book…
A few years ago I noticed that most days I was feeling exhausted in the middle of the afternoon. Not a great time to be tired when you have to do the school run, cheer on your kids at sport (yay!), zoom home to make them a nutritious dinner to turn their noses up at …
I digress. I had to start sleeping better. At the right time of the day!
I added these 5 sleep enhancers to my days and they really do make a difference.
(Speaking of differences, we are of course all different, so the things that work for me might not work for you. But these tips aren’t weird and wacky, or hard to stick to. If you don’t practise them yet, try one or two and see if they help.)
If you’d like to try Tip 4, more magnesium, you can use code TRYMAG to get 20% off bottles of our natural, NZ-Made Magnesium Oil Spray, unscented or with lavender.
Anyway, let’s get going. My first tip starts waaaay before bedtime. In the morning in fact …
1 – Keep a regular sleep schedule that starts with getting up at the same time each morning. Yes, even at the weekend. It makes sense, right? If you’re up at the same time each day, you should start to feel sleepy at the same time each night. I’m trying to get up a little earlier than I’d necessarily like, so I have a bit of peace and quiet before the kids wake up. This necessitates doing quiet things, like a bit of a yoga stretch, so as not to wake the little blighters!
2 – Exercise. Simply being awake for the same amount of hours each day doesn’t mean I’ll be sleepy at the right time. I need to make myself physically tired. Unfortunately, my natural activity of choice is to read a book with a cup of tea. So I had to have a stern word with myself for this one! Simply put, the more movement I have in my day, the more soundly I sleep, and the less likely I am to want to stay up late – my tired body tells me to get to bed! For me the best kind of exercise is free and fun. So walking the dog, using my Powerhoop to a cheesy 80s soundtrack, that kind of thing.
3 – Less caffeine. I know that you know this one already! I do love a cappuccino in the morning. I’m not sure I’ll ever give that up. But caffeine does affect your body for up to 8 hours. So it’s worth switching your afternoon cuppa to a decaf, or something naturally caffeine-free like rooibos tea.
4 – More magnesium. It was a game changer for me when I first discovered magnesium oil. Before then I had been taking magnesium tablets. But they were so huge and unpleasant to take that most nights I ‘forgot’.
With mag oil all you do is spray some onto your skin and rub it in. It takes less than 10 seconds and is said to be more effective than magnesium tablets anyway, as much of their goodness is destroyed by your digestive acids before you get the benefit.
Why magnesium? It supports sleep in several ways:
- It enables your body to maintain healthy levels of GABA, an amino acid that helps your brain slow down into a relaxed state ready for sleep.
- It helps regulate your parasympathetic nervous system, which relaxes your body’s functions, allowing you to be in the ‘rest and digest’ state that aids good sleep.
- It relaxes your muscles. This can be useful for people who experience cramps or restless legs during the night.
5 – A Regular End of Day Routine. Why let babies have all the relaxing pre-bedtime chilling? Let’s bring back the bedtime routine for grown ups too! Doing the same (preferably relaxing rather than energetic!) things at the same time each night will prime your brain and body that it's time to sleep.
My routine starts with an Epsom salt-based bath.* The magnesium in the Epsom salt gets to work soothing your mind; the warm water relaxes your muscles; and it’s been shown that the drop in body temperature when you get out the bath is a hint to your brain that you’re ready for sleep.
Next up the dull but important bits like teeth brushing and face cream (oh how I wish I’d started this particular habit sooner!).
Then I hop into bed and spray magnesium oil on my feet, followed by some cream to keep them moisturised. I’m one of those chilly feet people, so on go the attractive bed socks!
I check my diary for the next day so I don’t lie awake thinking I’ve forgotten something, write in my gratitude journal**, and read a chapter or two of a book.
Circling back to tip #1 I set my alarm then get up and put it on the other side of the room to make sure that when I wake up I actually get up! Plus my alarm is on my phone and I don't want the temptation of it being within reach. Then it's head on the pillow and more often than not I'll get at least 7 hours of undisturbed sleep, which is more than I used to get.
* I don’t always have a bath. Sometimes I’ll have a foot spa instead. I’ve been known to take a large tub and a pouch of SO with me if we’re staying somewhere that doesn’t have a bath, for instance when we’re camping.
** I started using a gratitude journal about 8 years ago and, honestly, what a difference it’s made to my outlook on life. I really rate the ones from Awesome Inc (an Awesome New Zealand, female-owned business). You get free shipping on your first order with them, and they have some free resources on their website. They also have mini journals which, again, I take with me when we’re away from home to keep up my bedtime routine. We sell them here and they're a great addition to a gift set for someone who is struggling with sleep or low mood.
It’s the best feeling in the world to get a good night’s sleep. I think more clearly, get more done with my day, make better food choices, and I’m WAY less of a grumpy mum. And wife. Though, to be honest, Charles does test me here!!
If you’d like to try some a magnesium oil spray for yourself, please use code
TRYMAG to get 20% off.
If you'd prefer a sleep-enhancing bath, the obvious option is SO:Relaxing, with its lavender and bergamot, but all of our blends contain heaps of pure, natural magnesium to help relax you into sleep.
"I’ve always struggled with sleep! Getting to sleep seems ok but can never get back to sleep if woken. I treated myself to the relaxing salts and magnesium spray!! A life changer! Love both of these products and will definitely be coming back for more!!"
After a stressful visit to the UK, I used 2 products from Salt & Oil; the SO Rela
xing bath salts did just that. I had a very restful sleep and recovered quickly from possible jet lag. A couple of days later, I used the SO Uplifting and was ready for a 40 minute walk on the wharf while we were in managed isolation. I can't wait to get hold of more Salt & Oil to revitalize my body and mind.
Great service and an awesome product! I have the best sleeps after a foot bath of Relaxing Salt and Oil. I can't wait to try another variety, highly recommended.
Please let us know if any of these tips help you get a better night's sleep. And share some tips of your own. Lack of quality sleep affects so much of our lives, from brain fog to lower mood, an immune system that doesn't work efficiently, weight gain, and it's even been linked to an increased chance of getting heart disease and Alzheimer's.
Let's see if we can help ourselves and others to do something about it!