Dried chamomile flowers, traditionally made into a tea to help sleep.
March is National Bed Month don't you know! We spend approximately 1/3 of our lives in bed and sleep is essential for health. But many of us wish we got more sleep and then feel frustrated when we can't nod off, even though we're tired or wake up during the night. So here's our advice for getting a good night's sleep.
Make your bedroom a homage to the beauty of rest and sleep: furnish it with soft wools and indulgent fabrics, keep it tidy and therefore calm and invest in decent black out blinds or an eye mask. Your bedroom should be between 16°C to 18°C ideally. Lavender essential oil promotes sleep, so try some in a diffuser by your bed. The Sleep Council recommends changing your mattress at least every seven years.
I'll tell you again, but I know you know already, do some regular exercise, it's lovely out there - I saw three bumblebee queens looking for a nesting site this morning and it reminded me why I try to get outside before work.
The blue and green light waves given off by our mobiles, laptops and e-readers interfere with the production of melatonin and so keep us alert according to research by Professor Paul Gringas . Stop looking at electric screens several hours before bed time and return to the beauty of a real book. Reducing artificial light is also helpful, so turn off the main lights and dine by candlelight, our tapered beeswax candles are kitchen table staples.
What and when you consume significantly affects how you sleep. Caffeine has a half life of 6 hours, so cut out the after lunch latte. Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper: eating heavy meals late at night is a recipe for poor sleep. Avoid rich foods such as curry and, sorry, alcohol. Instead opt for chicken, rice, cherries and milk which all encourage sleep. Call us old fashioned, but we like a mug of warm milk with a teaspoon of Bell Heather Honey as a ritual before bed. I'm also a fan of Neal's Yard Remedies dried loose herbs, which you can mix and match to make your own infusions. Lavender and chamomile both promote sleep, but the lavender can be bitter if steeped for too long. If you'd prefer a teabag then our friends at Joe's Tea have got a limited edition "Sleepy Cow" tea created in collaboration with the Cowshed .
Stress & Worry
We're all stressed at some point. But there is increasing evidence that mindfulness training can help us to deal with it. The mental health charity Mind has more information on their website. Personally, I enjoy Plum Village's guided meditations which follow the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh and are available on a CD or download. Even saying an affirmation to yourself before bed to turn around whatever you're worried about can be helpful, for example "I will find a way to resolve the issue with that piece of equipment at work." rather than "What am I going to do about that broken piece of equipment?" Above all, just take a moment for yourself.