Everything you need to know about ‘Sleep Hygiene’
Tired all the time? Read on to find the best cures for insomnia and the products to help you sleep well
The World Health Organisation has declared a ‘sleep loss epidemic throughout industrialised nations,’ and in a nationwide study by Sealy UK, it found that people are waking up feeling tired four days every week on average. This chronic lack of sleep is leading many to seek help, with 9.5 million GP appointments made for the condition last year alone.
GP Dr. Sarah Jarvis explains, 'Poor sleep can have a huge knock-on effect on mood, well-being, concentration and even your physical health. There is excellent evidence that electronic devices can affect your sleep, while caffeine makes you more alert and alcohol affects the quality of your sleep, even if you drop off quickly. Having a quiet, comfortable sleeping environment with a comfortable mattress and no ticking clocks, beeping mobiles or glowing lights can make a huge difference to your "sleep hygiene".'
The three golden (and obvious) rules to avoid insomnia are:
1) Do not use electronic devices in bed, (this sends a signal to your brain to stop producing melatonin, the sleep hormone)
2) Avoid sugary foods, and consuming caffeine and alcohol within three hours of your bedtime
3) Avoid late night eating – no meals within two hours of bedtime.
Scientists have found that indulging in a bath, and the resulting cooling down period, tricks the body into thinking you’ve gone from day-to-night. Plus there are a whole host of products to help send you off to the land of nod. Some exciting studies have found taking supplements and using products with magnesium to be particularly helpful as a sleep remedy.
Nutritionist Kim Pearson says, 'Magnesium is a natural relaxant as it has been linked to lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It is also a smooth muscle relaxant so make sure your diet includes foods that are rich in the nutrient; spinach, kale, avocados, chickpeas, salmon, and figs are all great options. I also recommend trying BetterYou’s Magnesium Sleep Lotion, which is clinically proven to provide a better night’s sleep.'
Founder of Wild Nutrition, Henrietta Norton says, 'The hormone melatonin plays a significant role in our "sleeping and waking" cycles and its production is controlled by exposure to light. One of the most common symptoms associated with "melatonin deficiency" is not feeling sleepy enough to "wind down" and go to bed. Modern living, diet, and low levels of certain nutrients can all influence how well we are able to produce melatonin when we need it. Try the relaxing mineral magnesium (Wild Nutrition Food Grown Magnesium supplement, £16.50) and/or the herb Ashwagandha, (KSM-66® Ashwagandha Plus, £19.50). They have been clinically proven to lower stress levels by balancing cortisol (a stress hormone) and may be used as a sleep aid.'
Another good remedy is the Movement for Modern Life – an online collection of at-home exercise classes with a ‘Ready for Bed’ section. It includes classes in ‘Relaxation for Good Sleep’, ‘Sleep Well Meditation’ and the ‘Tension Buster Sleep Seducer’. Subscription is free for two weeks, then from £10.99 a month.
The recipe for the perfect bedroom environment is to set the temperature at 20°C and invest in a personalised pillow from Nanu (from £38 for two). They have a whole host of options for you to choose that make you comfortable wherever you rest your head. Plus a spritz of something sleep inducing and infused with lavender can also help. Try This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray (£18), which has 97% of people saying they slept better and 98% saying they felt more refreshed in the morning, or Mauli’s Sleep Dharma Pillow Mist (£22) – they might give you a fighting chance at a full eight hours.
A Sleep Mask by Slip (£50 at Lookfantastic), is the stylish option to shut out the light (and the silk is kinder to your face). Also, a new sleep monitor app called ‘Rise’ has just launched, it offers a personalised plan, which includes mindfulness sleep meditation, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), delivered by a clinical psychologist Dr. Danielle Landau. It then works out a plan based on your preferences and needs, and it really helps you to switch off from our 24-hour society. It’s available to download for free on iOS from The App Store, and on Android from Google Play (£8.99 per month).
And as for that Netflix addiction? The only way we can help you there is by recommending the best shows to watch right now, so at least if you're tired it's been worth it...