40 quick sleep tips

Struggling to get a good night's sleep? Do you wake in the night and find it difficult to drop back off? Is your lack of sleep stressing you out.? Is stress stopping you from sleeping? It's a common problem but there are so many ways to help with night time restlessness without resorting to sleeping tablets. Here are 40 quick suggestions....

  1. Don't drink too much alcohol. If you enjoy a glass in the evening stop drinking at least two hours before bed. You may find it easier to drop off but when your body has metabolised that wine your sleep will be disrupted. Try skipping alcohol for a few nights and see how much better you sleep or drink early on in the evening.
  2. Don't clock watch. If you are taking longer than usual to fall asleep clock watching can bring on feelings of anxiety. Don't have a clock on the bedside table and avoid checking the time if you have to get up to go to the loo.
  3. Watch your coffee intake. Although studies have only been conducted through small trials it is best to avoid caffeine if you struggle to sleep. Otherwise drink your last coffee at midday.
  4. Are you on the phone or iPad in the evening? Watching TV in bed? Blue screen is a sleep thief as it tricks the brain into thinking its daytime, disrupting our natural sleep cycles. Turn off the gadgets and read in bed instead of catching up on the box set into the early hours.
  5. For those of you that cram in the gym at the end of the day it could be effecting your ability to sleep. Exercise increases cortisol (the stress hormone) in your body making it difficult to rest. In addition, the mental stimulation can make it hard to wind down. If you already struggle with sleep, try to avoid exercise within 4 hours of bedtime.
  6. If you are having a run of insomnia or broken sleep don't nap during the day. Even if you feel exhausted wait until bedtime to lie down. Go for a walk and breath in some fresh air instead.
  7. Is your room dark enough? Signal to the brain that it's time to sleep by having a dark room.
  8. Do you eat, work, make phone calls in your bedroom? Try not to associate your bedroom with anything other than sleep, dressing and sex!
  9. Is your room too hot? A cool, well ventilated room is best for a good night's sleep.
  10. Try eating a carbohydrates and protein snack before bed. For example, a piece of cheese with a cracker. The amino acid tryptophan that helps induce sleep is more available to the brain when consumed with a carbohydrate.
  11. Check out your mattress. Sometimes the discomfort of a poor supporting mattress can stir you in the night or keep you tossing and turning.
  12. Valerian root (a natural herbal remedy) can work really well for poor sleep. Try taking 1-2 before bed for a 2-3-week period and see if they improve your ability to drop off.
  13. Look at whether you have realistic expectations of yourself. Are you lying awake because there is so much you feel you haven't done? Be kind to yourself and set realistic goals for the daytime that enable you to let go and relax at night.
  14. Have you tried natural infusions? Herbal teas can help to support relaxation and aid sleep try chamomile, lemon verbena, lemon balm, orange blossom and valerian.
  15. A massage can help with relaxation before bed. If you are lucky enough to have someone to do it for you then great. Otherwise take some time to massage lavender scented body butter into your skin. The scent will also work wonders under the covers.
  16. A warm bath is a relaxing way to prepare for bed. Use aromatherapy oils such as lavender, ylang ylang or clary sage in the water. 
  17. Potassium and magnesium are natures relaxants as they support the nervous system. Check your intake of these and incorporate more foods rich in these minerals (you can try a supplement)
  18. Eat a banana before bed. It's a good source of magnesium and potassium but also contains the amino acid L-tryptophan, which gets converted to 5-HTP and then serotonin in the brain.
  19. Agricultural research studies have shown that cherries are one of the only natural food sources of melatonin that regulates our sleep. Try fresh cherries or cherry juice in the evening.
  20. Don't eat too much in the evening. Your body will struggle to sleep and stay asleep if it's trying to digest too much food and you risk acid reflux which will cause heartburn.
  21. Stay well hydrated in the daytime but avoid fluids in the evening if you find you stir and need to use the loo.
  22. Introducing daily exercise (not 4 hours before bed) will improve your sleep give it a try.
  23. Don't engage in anything too taxing before bed. Mentally overstimulating yourself will make it harder to fall asleep.
  24. Meditation has been proven to improve the ability to sleep and overall sleep quality. Try a 10-minute guided meditation to get you started or simply follow your breath for 10 minutes. If you get easily distracted say to yourself 'breath in', 'breath out' or count the in and out breaths (making the out breath slightly longer).
  25. Are you establishing a sleep cycle? It is easier to fall and stay asleep when we go to bed and wake at the same time every day. Sporadic bedtimes play havoc with your natural sleep rhythm.
  26. If anxiety is keeping you awake look at your diet for answers. Incorporate oats, green vegetables, oily fish and dark berries to maximize your omega 3, magnesium, potassium and B vitamins that support the nervous system.
  27. Add some lavender oil to your pillow or bath. Lavender is known for its mood regulation and has a slight sedative effect on the body.
  28. It's become debatable whether warm milk does actually help you sleep but cacao will. Not the super sweet cocoa but the raw, natural cacao powder. Its high in magnesium and mood enhancing compounds that relax and sustain the nervous system. Warm your milk and add a couple of heaped teaspoons plus some natural sweetener like honey or maple syrup.
  29. Listen to water sounds like dripping rain drops, waves or a waterfall. According to research our brains interpret these as non-threatening, calming noises and they can lull us to sleep. 
  30. Listen to Theta waves to promote sleep. "Theta brainwaves are considered the gateway between the realm of your subconscious mind and your waking reality. This states is experienced typically twice per day. The first time it is experience is when you drift from alpha into sleep and again when you wake up from the delta frequency". In short they promote deep relaxation needed to drop off.
  31. A small Harvard study showed that just 30-45 minutes of yoga helped people fall asleep 30% faster and reduced their nighttime waking by 35%. There are lots of free yoga practice onlone or join a local class.
  32. Adaptogens can help you sleep. As their name suggests adaptogens adapt to your bodies needs. Much like a thermostat they will turn the temperature down or turn it up according to the internal condition. If you have too much cortisol (stress hormone) keeping you awake an adaptogen will redress the balance for you promoting calm and sleep. Try maca or ashwaganda.
  33. A university in Australia found that passionflower improved sleep quality. Try a cup of passionflower tea before bed.
  34. Have you tried yoga nidra (yogic sleep). It's a state of consciousness between being awake and falling asleep. There are lots of free meditations online and it might just induce a state of deep relaxation!
  35. Leave a notepad on your bedside table and write down anything that's on your mind for the next day. Consider it out of your mind and set the intention of dealing with things after a restful night's sleep.
  36. The comforting glow of a salt lamp is helpful when you wake and cannot go back to sleep. There are also claims that the negative salt ions can aid sleep.
  37. Hypnotherapy can be a useful way to improve sleep. Either book in with a practitioner or buy an audio to listen to in bed.
  38. Reading is a great way to stay in bed and relax. If you wake in the night and struggle to sleep reading is not too taxing and stops you from stressful thoughts.
  39. 5HTP is a very well researched natural supplement that can help with sleep. 5HTP converts to seratonin directly in the brain which regulates many things including sleep. Take 100-300mg per day.
  40. Seep is fundamentally about surrendering and letting go. We can only do that if we feel relaxed and safe. Spend some time looking at your life and figuring out what is keeping you up at night. Let it go, change things around and work on reducing external pressure. It's a longer term but more permanent solution to poor sleep! 

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