How many times do we hear people say “I’m having trouble sleeping?” It seems to be the modern epidemic. It goes without saying that sleep problems can lead to mood disruptions, debilitating fatigue, depleted immunity, not to mention the outward physical signs a lack of sleep can show.
1. Plan your food!
Many people may not realise that what they eat and when can have a profound effect on how well they sleep. For example, eating too late in the evening and then going to bed on a full stomach can really lead to a disrupted night; the digestive system has to work hard to process what we eat and it takes about two hours after eating a meal for the body to enter, what is known as, the post-absorptive phase of digestion. During this time, the body will not be wanting to allow its organs to rest because they are all needed for the digestive process to happen effectively; therefore the whole body cannot rest. Additionally, certain foods will help to produce the brain neurotransmitter, serotonin, which is needed to make melatonin, our sleep hormone. Foods that are high in the amino acid, tryptophan, which makes serotonin are key; these include turkey, chicken, eggs, beans, lentils fish, soya, oats and milk. Try to plan these into your evening meal. Additionally, a couple of oatcakes and a small glass of slightly warmed soya milk is a great post-bed snack, to be eaten an hour before bedtime, which will really help to increase serotonin in the bloodstream. ZZzzzzzzzz!
2. Don’t over-stimulate!
Drinking any caffeinated drinks just before bedtime can also disrupt sleep. Indeed, you would be well advised to not have any caffeinated drinks after lunch time. Instead, drink some herbal or fruit teas; interestingly green tea contains the amino acid theanine which stimulates the calming brain neurotransmitter called GABA. Theanine is also available as a food supplement, which many people find to be sleep-inducing taken a couple of hours before bedtime. Equally, alcohol may have a sedating effect initially, but you’ll frequently be awake very early in the morning after a ‘night-on-the-town’ and will then be unable to go back to sleep; so limit your over-indulgences!
3. Some natural remedies!
The beautiful lavender flower offers some well-researched and proven help when sleep is proving difficult. Indeed, one of many clinical research studies concluded that lavender oil was effective in helping anxiety disorder, and therefore enabled better sleep patterns. Lavender oil spray is readily available in health food stores and can be sprayed liberally on your pillow before bedtime. Equally, it can be sprayed onto your wrists and inhaled. Additionally, the herb valerian, contains many proven benefits for aiding sleep. Valerian can help you fall asleep and the relaxing nature of lavender oil will help you to stay asleep. You normally need to take valerian consistently for a couple of weeks before you feel the benefit, but it’s certainly worth perseverance.
4. Turn off the outside world!
We live in an electronic age; however, do remember that this was not how we evolved! In many ways we have created a monster! As much as we need high-tech communications in the modern world, the body equally needs some rest and relaxation. For example, you may think that watching the TV before bed-time is relaxing, but it will subliminally stimulate your brain. Additionally, doing emails or keeping up-to-date with your social media activity will also keep your brain revving! The brain needs quiet ‘wind-down’ time; it’s almost like going back to the bed-time routine of a baby! Have a warm, relaxing bath with some Epsom salts which provide magnesium, a natural muscle relaxant, followed by a small snack as above and then catch up on some enjoyable reading material. Make sure you turn off all your electronic devices; bluetooth emits energy waves which can interfere with brain chemistry, particularly when you’re trying to get to sleep.
5. Let your nose help!
So you’ve managed to fall asleep only to wake up two hours later for no apparent reason; then the brain springs into action! Firstly, try to write down your ‘to-do’ list for tomorrow, plus any particular worries you have, before you take your bath. Hopefully, you won’t then be making those imaginary ‘to-do’ lists for the rest of the night. However, if you are really having trouble in falling back to sleep, trying deep breathing whilst just concentrating on the end of your nose. This may sound very strange, but by really concentrating on the end of your nose, you will not be able to think of anything else, therefore you will gradually drift off back to sleep. This does take a little practice; however, be persistent and make yourself continue to concentrate and you’ll find those lovely slumbers will happen.
Sleep is a very personal thing; what works for one doesn’t work for another. However, it’s so important that it’s really worth persevering until you find what’s good for you. I hope our top sleeping tips help!