How can I get better sleep?
Factors that help encourage better sleep include: achieving better relaxation ahead of bedtime, addressing underlying health issues that could be affecting your sleep, amending habits earlier in the day such as drinking caffeine, creating a better sleep environment, such as making your bedroom darker and cooler, plus, sticking to the same routines, even on weekends.
How to sleep better
Throughout this blog I go into these tips in more details, giving you lots of pointers for achieving better sleep:
1. Relaxation is the aim, not sleep
Whether it is excitement, stresses or worries keeping you awake at night, it's quite common to have something on your mind that then affects your ability to sleep. Generally speaking, these sleep disturbances resolve quickly as the excitement or concerns wear off.
However, if this then translates into worries about not sleeping, you may get into the cycle of sleep anxiety, where struggling to nod off becomes a more regular occurrence, regardless of what you have on your mind.
Rather than putting too much pressure on yourself to sleep for a certain amount of time, aiming to feel more relaxed, especially in the lead up to bedtime, could help facilitate better sleep without there being too much mounting pressure. My advice is as follows:
- Switch screens off in the evening to help avoid too much exposure to stimulating blue light, or social media or news posts with triggering topics which could end up getting your mind in a whirr.
- Take part in relaxing habits in the lead up to bedtime instead, such as having a bath, listening to music or reading a good book.
- Whilst taking a dose of Dormeasan Sleep 30 minutes before bed can help you to wind down and relax, taking 2 smaller doses throughout the day in the lead up to bedtime could also help to facilitate better relaxation in the longer term. Just don't exceed 70 drops in a 24-hour period.
2. Address any underlying health issues that could be affecting sleep
Menopausal night sweats, neck pain, enlarged prostate symptoms, a gurgling tummy or loud snoring from nearby. These are just a few examples of how minor health problems may lead to disturbed sleep. So, what can you do to help?
The first step is to treat the underlying condition, if you're aware of what that is. The links above will give you an idea of what these solutions could be if you would prefer to approach them using herbal remedies. On these pages, you will also find useful lifestyle tips on how to manage and cope better with these minor ailments.
Don't forget that it could also be your partner's health problem that is disturbing your sleep. For instance, menopausal night sweats could affect the sleep of your significant other if you're continually tossing and turning around the bed in the middle of the night. Alternatively, perhaps frequent trips to the toilet as a result of cystitis or an enlarged prostate, or even loud snoring from your partner, could be affecting your sleep. So, sometimes helping them could, in turn, help you and vice versa.
Getting to the bottom of the problem can take a bit of time – so be patient. Colds and flu, for instance, can take a few days to settle and recovery is not helped if you can't get to sleep because of the symptoms. Depending what else is going on, it could take longer.
So, meanwhile, if you are anxious about not sleeping well, you may wish to try a herbal sleep remedy such as Dormeasan® Sleep Valerian-Hops drops until you can get to grips with any underlying contributing factors.
3. Amend habits during the day
Did you know that what you do during the day, as well as in the evening time, could be affecting how well you sleep?
Sometimes you might not know straight away why you are struggling to sleep, but some general lifestyle tips that have been shown in research to have benefits on your sleep, are as follows:
- Consider your diet. Options such as rice, oats or milk are often touted as miracle cures for sleep, and there is some truth in this. Good quality sources of protein will contain the amino acid tryptophan, which is thought to be especially sleep-promoting due to its effects on the neurotransmitter serotonin and hormone melatonin.
In combination with this approach, avoiding stimulant foods and drinks, including refined sugar, alcohol and caffeine, even as early in the day as early afternoon, could have significant, positive effects on your ability to nod off come evening time.
- Plan your meal timings too. Keeping consistent meal times is important for a number of reasons when it comes to sleep; firstly, it helps to encourage more stable blood sugar levels which is then less likely to contribute to early morning wakenings, for example.
But also, avoiding eating too close to bedtime is also a useful approach in terms of the impact on digestion. Digestive symptoms such as acid reflux can easily disturb sleep, especially if they get worse when you go to lie down.
- Get outdoors. Exposure to natural light can work wonders for your sleep-wake cycle. Ever felt more ready for your bed after a day of being outdoors? This is why! Exposure to natural light (especially in the mornings, plus, even in winter) can help solidify your wake-sleep cycle and help you feel more tired at the preferable times.
- Get moving. Much like exposure to light, exercising (and even better if you can combine the two), can have a positive influence on your mood, relaxation levels and your readiness for bed. Remember: no extremes; and finding an activity you actually enjoy is the aim.
4. Create a better sleep environment
If you generally feel tired enough, but still feel there is some sort of a sticking point for falling asleep or staying asleep, then I have some suggestions for you to try:
- Check your bedroom is cool and dark. Being too hot can seriously hinder your ability to nod off and, if it's too light, it can confuse your brain into thinking it's still daytime!
- Avoid checking the clock continually. Checking the clock continually during the night will only risk adding to any anxieties about your trouble sleeping or the amount of sleep you're racking up. Focus your attention on keeping comfortable and relaxed instead.
- Write down any worries or concerns before retiring to bed. Keep a diary by your bed and empty your mind before attempting to nod off. This can help rid your mind of lots of extra thoughts, and allow you accept that any concerns or to-do's can wait until the next day when you can actually address them properly with fresh vigour.
- Get the animals their own space. Have you ever considered that your beloved pet could be interrupting your sleep if they sleep alongside you? As much as you love them, animals could be interrupting your sleep and/or making the sleeping environment less comfortable. Try removing any pets from your bed space to see how you get on – it may even benefit them too!
5. Stick to the same routines
Routine is key when it comes to getting consistently good sleep. Some tips from me to help establish some healthy 'sleep hygiene' tips, are as follows:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same times. Arguably this is one way having kids can help to encourage healthier sleep habits! Generally, children wake around the same time each day, even on weekends. This is something many of you could perhaps learn from and take on board; try not to be so tempted to stay up late or sleep in late, even if you aren't needing to make work or something early the next day.
- Wind down in the evenings. I've mentioned that getting into 'relaxed mode' is key, but if you can make this a consistent routine, it can be even more helpful. Have a bath or limit screens in the hour or two before bed to help get into the sleepy zone. Deep breathing can also be a surprisingly simple but helpful tactic.
- Don't panic if you waken during the night. If frequent wakening is an issue, don't panic. Try some of the other suggestions as mentioned throughout this blog, including taking an additional dose of Dormeasan Sleep, if need be, to help you nod back off. This way your body gets used to it being bed time, and you won't risk throwing any routines off by giving up on sleep completely.