Not getting the sleep you need? We've compiled our top 5 sleep tips to help you rebuild your relationship with sleep:
1. SLOW DOWN YOUR EVENING ROUTINE
We are a nation of screen lovers, always checking our phones and emails or watching Netflix. But none of that helps us truly switch off, instead it keeps our brains alert. Taking some time in the evenings to properly prepare for sleep can work wonders:
Set a no-screen limit for two hours before bed. That includes phones, TVs and computers. The blue light these devices emit blocks a hormone called melatonin that makes you sleepy, so you feel more awake before bed.
Try including a beautifully fragranced warm bath (or shower) in your evening routine as they raise and then cool your body to the perfect sleep temperature. But the timing here is important – make sure you’re out of the bath or shower about an hour and a half before you want to sleep, giving your body enough time to cool to that optimum temperature.
Swap Netflix for a good paperback, podcast or audiobook. To really help you drift off, dim the lights or light a candle (the hormones that regulate our sleep cycles are light-sensitive) and enjoy a cup of caffeine-free herbal sleep tea.
2. WORRY LESS, SLEEP MORE
Bedtime worry is one of the main reasons people struggle to sleep. Even the best evening routine and daytime sleep hygiene can’t eliminate anxiety creeping in when you’re alone with your thoughts, trying to sleep. If this sounds familiar, try the below:
Incomplete tasks have the potential to cause bedtime worry and impair sleeping. However, a study has shown that writing down a to-do list for the next day before you go to bed can help you fall asleep quicker. Interestingly, participants who wrote longer and more specific lists fell asleep faster than those who wrote shorter, more generalised lists.
Another exercise that can help improve sleep is constructive worry. This is a process which is designed to reduce worrying at bedtime by moving that worry to a different time and focusing on problem solving steps. Ideally done earlier in the evening, as opposed to just before sleep, you would write out anything you are worrying about and the next steps towards a solution. If worry creeps up again at bedtime, you can remind yourself that you have already devoted time to these worries.
3. CREATE A SLEEP SANCTUARY
The place we go to fall asleep needs to reflect its purpose. Too often, we fill our bedrooms with leftovers of the day and anticipations of tomorrow when they should be places of sleep and relaxation.
Clutter in your physical surroundings can clutter your mind. Keep your bedside table clear and tidy - phones, tablets and alarm clocks are best placed in drawers, out of sight. Televisions and computers should be left at the door – they have no place in the bedroom.
Finding your bedroom scent is an absolute must! Our Sleep Signatures Bath and Shower Elixir uses the perfect blend of sleep-inducing natural plant oils. When we use scent as part of our bedtime routine, the brain starts to associate that scent with going to bed, relaxing and falling asleep meaning the more you use your sleep scent, the more effective it becomes!
The temperature and air in the bedroom can seriously impact your sleep. Studies suggest that 16-18°c (61-65°f) is an ideal bedroom temperature for an average, healthy adult.
4. PLAN SLEEP-SAVVY DAYS FOR SLEEP-EASY NIGHTS
It’s not just the hour or so before bed that’s important when it comes to good quality shut-eye. What you do, eat and drink during the day can seriously impact your ability to sleep.
Help your body’s natural sleep rhythms by creating a sleep schedule; go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning, even on weekends. Be careful with naps – limit them to 45 minutes max and avoid them after 4pm.
While exercise can improve sleep, some people find that exercising too close to bedtime keeps them awake. If that sounds like you, try exercising earlier in the day.
What you eat and drink can affect your sleep. If you can avoid caffeine altogether, but definitely after lunch. Watch out for hidden sources of caffeine, such as chocolate and painkillers. Nicotine acts as a stimulant and can cause difficulty falling asleep, light sleep and early waking. Alcohol before bed should also be avoided as it can interfere with sleep.
5. AND IF ALL ELSE FAILS...
So if the above hasn’t worked for you, what can you do once in the throes of insomnia, aside from helplessly count sheep? Try the following scientifically-supported sleep hacks to beat the insomnia:
Reverse Psychology - our minds are tricky creatures, and often try to do the opposite of what we want them to. This theory applies to sleep in that if you try to fall asleep, chances are your brain will put a swift stop to that. On the other hand, if you try to stay awake without distractions, it’s likely your brain will fight it and send you to sleep.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation – this is recommended by the National Sleep Foundation as a way of falling asleep fast. The practice involves slowly tensing and then relaxing each muscle in your body to help your body unwind. Start with either your toes or your neck and head, and progressively work upwards or downwards. Tense your muscles for at least five seconds, then relax for 30 seconds, and repeat.
As a last resort, get up. This may seem counter-intuitive (and really hard to do!), but if you are struggling to fall asleep after 20 minutes then get out of bed and do something relaxing in a different room. Try something that requires the use of your hands and your head, like a jigsaw or some colouring. You don’t want to start associating your bedroom with overthinking, insomnia and anxiety.
NB: This article is for information purposes, and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing difficulty sleeping, or have symptoms which prevent you from sleeping well, you should contact your medical practitioner.