Research suggests that around 30% of us suffer from insomnia. (1) Sleep deprivation can cause a variety of health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, so it really is crucial to get enough rest. But what can we do to improve our sleep? Here’s our guide to securing the recommended eight hours.
How To Get To Sleep: 4 Steps
1. Improve Your Evening Routine
As children, our evenings usually consisted of a bath, a bedtime story and an early night. What we often forget is that a wind down routine is crucial as an adult too.
Prepare your body for sleep with some gentle relaxation exercise such as yoga and then write down any pressing thoughts or concerns so they’re not on your mind.
The sleep-wake cycle, otherwise known as the circadian rhythm, is regulated by melatonin. This hormone uses light exposure to tell us when to sleep. One to two hours before you sleep, try to avoid bright lights including your phone or a TV.
2. Create A Sleep Cycle
Our circadian rhythm is a natural process that our body wants to follow. Sync in with this cycle by going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day- even on weekends.
Try not to make up for lost sleep by napping or lying down throughout the day. If you really need to sleep then limit your nap to 15-20 minutes and make sure it’s at the start of the day.
3. Monitor Your Caffeine Intake
Believe it or not, your morning coffee might be the reason why you can’t sleep at night. Caffeine has a half-life of 3-5 hours, meaning it can literally be in your system all day. The National Sleep Foundation recommends avoiding caffeine 6 hours before sleep, to ensure the side effects have completely worn off prior to rest. 2
Similarly, eating a big meal or drinking alcohol in the evenings can disrupt sleep massively. Whilst alcohol has a sedative effect in encouraging drowsiness, it impacts the quality of our sleep and can result in awakenings throughout the night. 3
4. Exercise During The Day
Your daytime routine is equally as important as your night-time one. Even 10 minutes of walking during the day has been shown to improve sleep quality. Plus, exercise releases endorphins and improves our mood, helping to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression- two of the main causes of insomnia.
The Perfect Sleep Supplements
Nutrition plays a major part in our emotional health and this includes sleep. Vitamin deficiency for example, can impact our sleep cycle and affect cognitive wellbeing. Supplements are a convenient way to boost your intake of essential nutrients. Here are our top supplements for sleep:
Studies show that regular supplementation of magnesium can improve measures of insomnia including sleep efficiency, sleep duration and waking time. 4
Magnesium helps the body to create the sleep hormone melatonin. This essential mineral also plays a part in nerve activity and muscle function– two key factors of relaxation.