Had enough of dirty sleep??

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Sleep hygiene – habits or practices that promote better quality sleep


None of these tips are rocket science, but implement all these practices for a week and I can guarantee you’ll be sleeping like a baby, performing better in the gym, improved mood and brain function and generally just be a more awesome version of you.

Shower before bed & keeping your bedroom cool

The key here isn’t the relaxation from the warm bath, its actually the relative drop in body temperature once you finish showering and get into bed. The drop in core body temperature is a fundamental cue for triggering sleep. We all know how difficult it is to fall asleep when the room is hot. So time your shower about 40mins before bedtime, keep the room cool and you’ll literally be instructing your body it’s time for bed.

Black out blinds

Most of us live in an urban setting such that there is always a fair degree of light pollution. Just for one week try taping some black bin bags to your windows at night time – completely blocking out all external light, as well as ensure that ALL lights in your room are off. Cover any LEDs with tape, make sure the landing light is turned off etc. Light is so important for setting your circadian rhythms, once you try this you’ll never go back.

Switching off electronics & white lights in the evening….or wearing blue light blocking glasses

Apart from the stimulation that electronics have to offer (never try watching Saw then falling straight asleep!) the light that they emit is a cue its daytime. Blue sky and white light represents daytime, most electronics and lights emit light in this spectrum signalling late into the evening that its still daytime and you should be awake. In order to fall asleep naturally you need increasing levels of melatonin throughout the evening. As melatonin rises you feel drowsy and are able to fall into a deep sleep. Bright light suppresses the production of melatonin.

Swap bright lights for candlelight, install a programme like f.lux for naturally limiting the brightness of your computer screen, and grab yourself a pair of blue light blocking glasses like these beauties to wear. And no, its not a joke – they really do work! Blue blocker glasses impede the capacity of bright light to suppress melatonin production

Magnesium supplement

Now this can be combined with the first tip by getting yourself into an Epsom salts bath, magnesium sulphate or by taking some ZMA, a combined zinc, magnesium and B6 supplement.

Magnesium will make you drowsy, it affects the sympathetic nervous system, causing GABA receptor sensitivity which is important for regulating and inhibiting brain activity. It won’t ‘make’ you fall asleep, but will create a drowsy window for you to try and fall asleep in.

Avoiding caffeine in the afternoons and eating just before bed

We all know why to avoid caffeine in the afternoons so just don’t drink it. Simple! You want to sleep? Don’t consume something which has the exact opposite effect. And eating within 2hrs of bed? Eating will cause a blood sugar spike, as this drops adrenaline and cortisol get released which can trigger you to wake up.


Try all of these for a week – and then try telling me you’d been getting enough sleep 😉

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Headstart Sports Injury and Performance Clinic is owned and run by experienced sports massage therapist Vicki Marsh. We are based in Cambridge, UK, and specialise in resolving complex injuries that are causing acute or chronic pain,affecting quality of life and sporting performance. Vicki has over 12 years experience delivering sports massage to rowers, runners, international athletes and Olympic medallists.

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