In this series, we interview inspiring entrepreneurs and experts on the subject of sleep. We explore different methods of improving our sleep in order to improve our overall health and well being.
Liz Earle MBE has been a respected and award-winning authority in the world of beauty, natural nutrition and wellbeing for more than thirty years. She has built on her foundations of health journalism and beauty expertise to found Liz Earle Wellbeing Magazine, which draws on respected research and trusted knowledge e to provide balanced advice and ideas on looking good and feeling great. Liz is also the bestselling author of over 35 books, the founder of her own Fairtrade jewellery line and a passionate charity advocate, even launching her own initiative: LiveTwice.
1. How would you describe your relationship with sleep?
Sleep is incredibly important. As someone who has dedicated their career to wellbeing, I’ve seen so much evidence of the startling effects sleep quality has on our brains and bodies. I’ve learnt that so much of getting good sleep is about our circadian rhythms, the natural cycles of our bodies that makes us feel sleepy and refreshed. I find between seven and eight hours is the perfect amount of sleep to support the immune system, leave me looking and feeling my best, so I try to get this at the same time each night.
2. Why is good sleep hygiene important to you?
Maintaining a clear separation between waking life and sleep is one of the ways I make sure I can drift off peacefully at night. I think it’s really important to keep my bedroom associated with relaxation, so I try not to work there during the day if I can avoid it. Another way I practise good sleep hygiene is by keeping away from small screens for a couple of hours before I want to sleep. The blue light that they emit can be disruptive to our melatonin levels, the hormone that helps us sleep, so I try to switch those off well before bed. I’m also a big advocate for quality sleepwear - not only are they much more comfortable, I find getting changed helps me to mentally switch off into night mode, almost like getting into a uniform! All of these habits help to draw a line between my busy days and restful nights, which is really important.
3. Do you have a bedtime routine?
Having a bedtime ritual really helps me to get a good night sleep. My sleep routine actually starts in the afternoon, where I set a caffeine curfew around six hours before bedtime. I like to replace coffees and black teas with Camomile and passionflower teas which are great for sleep. I like to do any exercise at least five hours before I sleep to make sure my body temperature has dropped back down to normal. This fall in body temperature sends a signal to our bodies that it’s time for bed, which is the same reason that getting out of a hot bath before bed can make me feel more sleepy too. In the hour before lights out, I will try to wind down with a relaxing activity, like stretching or listening to calming music. I’ll usually pop a rich hand cream on before bed, giving it time to nourish hard working hands. Then sprinkle a couple of drops of lavender essential oil onto my pillow to help me drift off!
4. Do you have a morning routine?
The first part of my morning routine is making sure I’m getting up at the same time every day. On the weekends I can be really tempted by a lie in, but even then I try to rise at my normal time and make a cup of tea before taking care of my mind and body with five minutes of meditative breathing followed by some simple stretches before reaching for a read of the papers somewhere comfortable. This helps me keep on top of my circadian rhythms and avoid oversleeping - which can leave us feeling as groggy as if we haven’t slept enough. During the week, I find exercise a great way to clear the cobwebs and start the day off with a burst of high-intensity energy. Then when I’m done I can enjoy my cup of real coffee something hot before settling down to work.
5. What other tips do you have for getting a good night’s rest?
I’m a light sleeper, so I have to make sure everything is dark and quiet. I always recommend black out blinds, and sometimes even silk eye masks and silicone ear plugs to block sound are necessary too! Silk pillowcases and a good quality mattress make sleep so comfortable, and can even help our bodies to look and feel younger too. I also swear by ‘Drops of Slumber’ from the brand Life Armour - this natural tincture contains traditional herbs, such as lavender and valerian root, that help calm an overactive mind and ease us in to a deeper sleep.
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