A good night’s sleep is so vital for performing at your very best, however, there are lots of things that can impact on your sleep, from sleep apnoea to the menopause, or just simple stress. Sleep deprivation will not only make you feel like absolute crap, but it can lead to weight gain, irritability forgetfulness and depression.
If you’re struggling with insomnia, you’re not alone. It’s estimate at least 16 million adults are suffering from sort of sleep deprivation. So what’s a restless, tired person to do? We asked you lot out there to share your sleep remedies – so perhaps they could also work for you!
Switch off devices
The light given off by TVs and mobile phones disrupts your circadian rhythm and keeps you awake when you should be dropping off. However, listening to something on your phone could be the solution if your issue is going to sleep.
Ditch the caffeine – and booze
Caffeine can have a disruptive effect on your sleep. The most obvious effect of the stimulant is that it can make it hard for you to fall asleep. One study also found that caffeine can delay the timing of your circadian rhythm. These effects will reduce your total sleep time. Caffeine also can reduce the amount of deep sleep that you enjoy.
Unfortunately this is also true for wine – boo – and many of our users agreed this has helped them to sleep better. Not all of you agree though – in fact, some say it helps them, which just goes to show that sleep is a truly personal issue.
Sleep in the dark
Sleeping in a dark room – or using a mask – sends signals to the body that it’s time to rest. It helps your body create melatonin, which increases drowsiness and relaxes muscles so you’re ready to drift off to the land of nod. Too much light at night stimulates alertness making it more difficult to drop off.
Get a health check
For some people, disrupted sleep is a sign of an underlying health condition.
Sleep apnoea, for example, means you stop breathing repeatedly while sleeping, which can lead to regularly interrupted sleep.
The menopause can also upset your sleep patterns, especially if you suffer from night sweats, so if in doubt, make an appointment with your GP as you can then treat those specific conditions.
Create a routine
There’s a reason that child experts say children should have a bedtime routine. A relaxing routine away from noise and bright lights can help separate your sleep time from waking activities. Do what feels good for you – perhaps cleanse your face, then do a little meditation or listen to some soothing music and then finish with reading for ten minutes.
It’s also recommended that you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day – yes, even the weekend – as this helps regulate your body clock. If you look at your circadian rhythm, your body naturally starts secreting melatonin around 9pm, with the deepest sleep happening at 2am, while melatonin stops being produced around 7.30am. Try and keep within those hours for your most restorative and natural sleep.
Incorporating exercise into your everyday routine will not only keep your fit - it will also help you sleep better.
In one study, it was shown that for people with severe insomnia, exercise worked better than most drugs. It increased total sleep time by 18% and reduced the time it took to fall asleep by 55%.
However, don't do rigorous exercise too late at night as it may make you more alert as it stimulates your adrenaline hormones. If you want to work out at night, try something gentle like yoga instead.
Try natural supplements
Valerian root, magnesium and ginkgo biloba are all remedies that have been shown to help reduce stress, ease anxiety and help sleep come easier.
If you don’t want to pop a pill, there are certain foods you can eat before bed to make you sleepy. These include almonds, watermelon, bananas, turkey and figs.
Don’t eat too much food – the aim is to ease you into sleep, not give you a midnight tummy ache.
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and then spent the next couple of hours worrying that you can’t get back to sleep? If that happens on a regular basis, try actually getting out of bed and doing something that distracts you from what’s on your mind. Read a book or listen to some calming music in another room for about half an hour and then go back to bed. It might just help calm you down and help fall asleep that bit quicker.
Write it down
Before bed, commit all your thoughts, to do lists and worries to paper. It will clear your mind and help you sleep better.
Breathe yourself to sleep
If you practice yoga, you’ll already know how relaxing breathing properly can be. Next time you have trouble nodding off, try the 4-7-8 breathing exercise. Basically, you breathe in through your nose to a count of 4. You then hold this for a count of 7. Finally exhale through your mouth, making a whoosh sound, to the count of 8. Repeat three times and you’ll soon be on your way to a good night’s sleep.