New mum? Sleepless nights? Try these simple techniques for more energy by this time tomorrow!
6am: Kick-start your morning
As you shower, spend two minutes alternating between warm and cold water to boost your circulation. Blasting your body with cold water increases the blood flow to your internal organs, while dousing it with hot water immediately afterwards directs the blood flow back towards your skin.
11am: Fight your body’s urge to eat fat
‘There is a lot of evidence to suggest that calorie intake goes up when you are sleep deprived,’ says Dr Guy. ‘Lack of sleep alters the levels of hormones that govern your appetite and the way you metabolise food, leaving you more likely to eat foods that are high in saturated fat.’ And these foods are more difficult for the body to break down, leaving you feeling even more lethargic.
Break this vicious cycle by filling your fridge with foods full of protein, fibre, and healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which will release energy slowly.
Try Greek yoghurt with a handful of berries, cottage cheese, sliced avocado and raisins, hummus, nuts and wholegrain crackers.
When you find yourself feeling drowsy during the day, gently tug at the roots of your hair. This will stimulate the nerve endings and get the blood flowing to your head, making you feel more awake and refreshed.
1pm: Set a timer for a quick snooze
‘When napping during the day, try to limit yourself to 15 or 20 minutes sleep,’ advises Dr Guy. ‘Any more than this and you’ll enter a deeper sleep, from which you will wake up feeling groggy.’
4pm: Boost low iron levels to improve your sleep pattern
Restless leg syndrome, a problem normally associated with pregnancy, can sometimes affect sleep patterns after birth. ‘It’s a very uncomfortable sensation in the legs, often caused by low iron levels, and can make the process of going to sleep very difficult,’ explains Dr Guy. ‘See your GP, who will be able to arrange a test to check your iron levels.’ Keep your iron levels topped up with this smoothie, which delivers your recommended daily allowance of iron in one hit:
- 1 ripe mango, peeled and pitted
- 2 large, ripe bananas
- 3 cups of kale
- 1 cup of fresh parsley (omit if pregnant)
- 8 fl oz filtered water.
Add the liquid to your blender first, then the fruit, and finally the greens. Blend until creamy.
9pm: Leave your worries for the daytime
Improve your odds of more settled sleep by ‘mind-dumping’ before you go to bed. Simply write down everything you are thinking about, from buying nappies to paying your credit card bill or calling nursery. Your brain will be more able to switch off now it’s not trying to keep track and remember all of those things.
10pm: Fall asleep faster
‘You can’t force yourself to fall asleep,’ says sleep physician Dr Guy Leschziner. ‘No one remembers the precise moment of dropping off to sleep.’ This simple five-steps-to-sleep technique will put you in the right frame of mind to drop off more quickly:
- Focus on a spot on the ceiling and take a deep breath.
- Think about your eyes becoming heavy and focus on your breathing. Let your eyes close and your body relax.
- Visualize the gentle side-to-side movement of an object, such as a swinging pendulum.
- Slowly and silently count down from 10. After each number, tell yourself, ‘I am relaxing’.
- Focus on a personal statement such as, ‘I am a great mum and my baby is fine.’