January 3rd is the Festival of Sleep Day created for people that would like to get some shut eye and relaxation after the holidays and New Year celebrations. Helena Grzesk is Spa Director at The Spa at The Midland and is a specialist in the art of relaxation and the science behind a good nights sleep. Here she shares her six steps to stress free sleep with SLOAN! Magazine.
Many people are quick to underestimate just how important getting a good night’s sleep really is. We can be considered deprived of sleep by missing just thirty minutes, and as well as slowing down the metabolism, depression is actually increased by 14% for every hour of sleep you miss. Sometimes just worrying about the amount of sleep you get can cause the exact kind of stress that prevents you getting some good quality shut-eye in the first place! So whilst stress is an inevitable part of life, there are many other exterior factors to watch out for that could be taking their toll on the quality of your sleep.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to see sleep as an essential, not a treat. Fortunately, there are some easy changes you can make to help you manage your lifestyle better; allowing you time to catch those all-important sleep hours, before it starts taking a toll on your health!
1. Stick to a Consistent Routine
As humans we are programmed to follow a steady lifestyle routine. Keeping your body clock in sync by heading to bed at roughly the same time each night helps strengthen the link between night-time and sleep. If you struggle to drop off to sleep early, try sipping a cup of herbal tea just before bed to help evaporate the stresses that a busy life can cause before bedtime. You should aim to stick to this routine at least four nights a week.
2. Exercise to Wind Down
Movement is medicine for the mind, as it produces a chemical which stimulates growth and proliferation of brain cells, which in turn helps to reduce feelings of stress or anxiety. By planning your gym visit in the late afternoon, you’ll give your mind a chance to unwind from the rest of the day, as well as tiring yourself out, which elicits a much deeper sleep. If you’ve had a stressful day, it’s worth trying some basic yoga stretches to release any final tension just before bed. A good stretch can help to slow the heart and rebalance the mind before your head hits the pillow.
3. Eat, Sleep, Repeat
It goes without saying that there are certain foods to be avoided just before bed – think high-calorie, high-fat and high sugar foods. But regardless of your diet, low fat or not, there are certain foods that should always be avoided after 9 pm. While many of us are accustomed to a cup of tea before bed, the lactose in the milk you use could be playing havoc with your digestive system, resulting in the familiar blood sugar crash that wakes you up in the middle of the night. To avoid this, always try and leave at least two hours between eating and sleeping, and limit caffeine to no more than two to three cups a day, consumed before 2pm. The good news is that it’s fine to have a late-night snack before bed – Try snacking on foods that are rich in an amino acid called Tryptophan, such as bananas or low sugar granola, which is known to promote a more restful sleep.
4. Digital Detox
Phones, tablets and TVs emit artificial light, which halts the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. You’ll sleep more soundly with electronics stowed away, so move them to another room and try picking up a new book or taking a long hot bath instead. For the perfect aid to a good night’s sleep, try adding a little lavender essential oil to your bath – It allows you to pamper your skin while the potent scent will relax both your body and your mind, helping you to drift off more soundly.
5. Consider Your Surroundings
Simply put, make your bed a haven of tranquillity. Aim for a quiet, cool, dark and comfortable bedroom and keep it strictly for sleeping rather than watching TV on your laptop or using your phone. The optimal temperature for the perfect night’s sleep is 17º Celsius, so don’t be tempted to ramp up the radiators either; for added warmth, decorate with soft, fluffy sheets instead. By making your bed each day, it will feel far more inviting once the evening rolls back around.
6. Take a Breather
Allocating time to doing not very much at all is of great importance to our wellbeing, and can considerable benefits when it comes to relieving stress! With 168 hours a week at our disposal, there’s certainly no excuse for feeling guilty after a minute or two’s rest. Working for many years in spas I have seen the difference taking ‘time out’ makes. A client often enters in a state of busyness, tense faces and hunched shoulders but by the time they leave, they almost float out as a new person. The Spa at The Midland is the first and only Spa in the UK to host the bespoke ESPA ‘Serene Sleep’ treatment, incorporating stimulating effects of relaxing chakra stones and warming Rose Quartz Crystals to help clients completely switch-off – ensuring an uninterrupted and blissful night’s sleep.
For more information about the ESPA Serene Sleep treatment, please visit www.thespaatthemidland.co.uk
About Helena Grzesk
Helena Grzesk is Spa Director of The Spa At The Midland which is the first and only Spa in the UK to host the bespoke ESPA ‘Serene Sleep’ treatment. The Spa at The Midland was awarded a Good Spa Guide rating of ‘5 bubbles’ and won four awards at The Spa Traveller Awards 2015; Best New Refurbished City Spa, Best City Spa Break Manchester, Best City Spa Day Manchester and Best Hotel Spa Manchester. The Spa at The Midland was also named ‘Best City Spa’ in The Candis 2016 Spa Awards.