A new mindset for the new year: sleep and meals
Everyone repeats the same advice at the start of a new year. We challenged Aava’s experts to come up with some new tips— fresh food for thought for those who have heard it all before.
Our four experts are here to share their professional insights for the new year. This first part focuses on sleep and meals. The second part will explore relationships and work. Read on and share these tips with anyone who might benefit from them.
Helena Aatsinki, an occupational physician specialised in sleep medicine:
Make your bed the most wonderful place in the world
Temporary insomnia is normal and experienced by nearly every adult at some point in their life. If the fatigue caused by continued nightly insomnia starts impacting everyday life, steps should be taken to remedy the situation. Your occupational physician or another expert can diagnose the severity of your situation and make a referral. You can and should also personally try to improve the quality of your sleep.
Those suffering from insomnia know all about cooling down the bedroom, turning off digital devices, calming down evening routines and other familiar tips. However, here’s a simple and proven method that you may not yet have tried: improving your sleep-bed association.
The idea is simple: make your bed the most wonderful place in the world. A place primarily intended for sleeping. When you wake up during the night, do not fall into despair—it’s actually quite normal. Think about calming things and wait for sleep to come. If you have not fallen back to sleep after about 15 minutes, get up.
At this point, many are frustrated and want to make their sleepless night more comfortable, “Now that I have no choice.” Some pick up a good book, others an iPad. Some may go to the kitchen to make hot chocolate and sip it in comfort under a blanket. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
When you wake up, get up but find the most uncomfortable stool in your home and sit on it. Don’t start doing things, simply wait calmly for about 15 minutes. In the middle of the night, 15 minutes is a long time and sitting on a stool is quite annoying. Bed will start to seem like a tempting place and you’ll start to miss it. After 15 minutes, return to your bed. The mind and body work automatically. It is warm and comfortable under the covers and you will find yourself relaxing. It is surprisingly easy to fall back to sleep.
If you still cannot fall asleep, start over: wait for 15 minutes, then return to the stool for another 15 minutes. After that, return to your wonderful bed. Sooner or later, you will fall asleep. Sweet dreams!
Reijo Laatikainen, nutrition therapist:
Take a picture of your food to see how you can improve your diet
For three days, take a picture of each meal you eat, every small snack and everything you drink. One of these days should be Saturday or Sunday. Save the pictures either as a PowerPoint presentation for yourself or in the free-of-charge See How You Eat app. Remember to take a picture of all the food and drink from early morning until going to sleep and be sure to save the pictures. Be brutally honest—don’t try to disguise the amount of food or eat less for those three days. Eat whenever and whatever you would normally eat.
When your report is ready, personally analyse your diet. You probably know a good deal about healthy eating. Think of three to five things about your diet that are good. What about the things you should improve? In this way, you will become aware of the positive and negative sides of your eating habits. Next, you can make a plan with one to three items for improving your habits over the next couple of months. You don’t need to change everything. Simply pick a couple of small improvements to your daily meals.
You can utilise your analysis even better by showing it to a nutrition therapist. The therapist can make specific calculations on your nutrition, such as protein, fibre and vitamins, as well as review your diet in terms of sickness, if necessary.