When the clocks go forward at 1 am on Sunday we’ll lose an hour of sleep. Even if you’re not one of the one in three people who have difficulty falling and staying asleep or the one in ten who regularly experience insomnia, this news is never welcome. So, how can we all learn to sleep better?
1. Mindfulness and Meditation
It’s well known that regular meditation can help us sleep better. Yoga Nidra or sleep meditation is a state between being awake and sleeping, where you put yourself in a ‘yogic sleep’ essentially a state in which the body is completely relaxed but mentally aware. This free video provides a good introduction.
2. Eat yourself to sleep
Try to snack on protein providing foods that are rich in an amino acid called tryptophan. This helps boost the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Chicken and turkey, if you eat meat, or nuts and seeds if not, are all good choices to help induce the sleepy hormone your body has been searching for. Bananas are rich in both potassium and magnesium which have a relaxing effect on the muscles and mind. Although it is to best eat about two to three hours before going to bed because otherwise your digestive system and liver will be active which may keep you awake or prevent deep sleep.
3. Sleep enhancing drinks
Milk and chamomile tea have both been traditionally used to help you feel more relaxed and sleepy before bed. Milk contains the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin, while chamomile tea is packed with antioxidants which aid sleep and improve sleep quality. Lemon balm and passion flower are also good sleep enhancing teas, for creative sleep tea options and blends see the Sleep Judge. If you don’t want to drink before going to bed because you are concerned about waking up to go to the bathroom, then consider using essential oils instead.
4. Bath time
Epsom salts have long been used for aches and pains, however, this cheap and cheerful remedy has gained popularity recently for its detoxifying properties with models and celebrities claiming they help with bloating. The sulphates in Epsom salt help flush out toxins and ease muscle pain. When a cup or so are added to a warm bath, the magnesium and sulphate are absorbed through the skin.
The mineral-rich salts also help muscles and joints to relax and this leads to a more restful sleep, giving the body a chance to re-energise.
5. Fit for sleep
Even if you don’t like vigorous exercise (which won’t be a good idea later in the day anyway, as this will stimulate you), incorporate a walk into your day. You can choose to get off a stop or two before your usual one on the way to work, walk to the station, go for a walk at lunchtime or early evening. It’s often the old-fashioned remedies that work and yes, fresh air is definitely one of them! Stress reducing and relaxing and free – it’s a no-brainer. If you have limited mobility ask a friend or family member to help you, even if it’s a walk around your garden in a secure environment.
6. Drink well
Try to reduce your caffeine intake by changing your usual brew for decaffeinated coffee or caffeine-free drinks like red bush tea or herbal tea. Try also to drink your last caffeine drink no later than lunchtime so the effects have longer to wear off, and reduce alcohol intake as too much near to bedtime will only disturb your sleep. The temptation to have a nightcap won’t actually help, aside from a thimble-full of rum or whisky in a soothing cup of milk.
7. Power down your gadgets
It’s well documented that the glare from electronic gadgets stimulates the brain and so avoid using your laptop, tablet or phone late in the evening. Ariana Huffington is the founder of The Huff Post and Thrive Global, a company that focuses on helping people put their wellness first, with sleep key to this and also wrote the best selling book The Sleep Revolution. She puts her mobile phone outside her room, even going so far as to tuck it in with its own ‘blankie.’ You don’t have to go this far but now you know how to sleep better and hopefully, you’ll be on the way to a good nights sleep.
Please read our blog on wellness trends for more tips on methods for better sleep. If you feel unsure about if you have a problem with your sleep itself, then this BBC video may help you decide…
Jo Fernandez is a leading UK travel journalist, with much of her career spent working for the London Evening Standard where she was Travel Editor until 2015. Now a freelance travel journalist and copywriter, she lives in Essex and has one daughter. As a travel expert, she still enjoys jetting off to write travel pieces, with favourite destinations including Mexico, Croatia and, of course, Essex.