Are you tired of feeling tired? Do you find it hard to doze off and lie awake during the night plagued with thoughts and worries? You are not alone. According to a study carried out by the
NHS, nearly a third of the UK population are suffering from insomnia which is affecting their health
and 30% are severely sleep deprived (1).
If you are struggling to sleep or have been affected by insomnia then here are some helpful lifestyle changes and natural home remedies to help you deal with sleep anxiety and get you back on track for better quality sleep.
Why is sleep so important?
Sleep is essential for our brain as it organises and stores all our memories during sleep. Lack of sleep can have many negative effects on the body – like how we function during the day, our hormonal balance, immune system and even our appetite, resulting in weight changes. It can also affect our ability to deal with the challenges and stresses we have in our life.
To wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face the day with a positive attitude, a good night’s sleep
can really help. When we go to sleep then the brain normally reduces stress levels by using
something called Rapid Eye Movement, or REM sleep. Unfortunately, REM is limited to 20% of our
sleep pattern, so, if there is a lot of perceived stress in your life, then you quickly use up that 20% of
REM, and, as a result, you may find that you wake up and struggle to return to sleep (2). So, what can we do about it?
Practical tips to help you get restful sleep
1. Relax your body
Progressive muscle relaxation teaches the body and mind to relax. To do this, lie down on your bed and imagine yourself beginning to relax all the way down your body – from the top of your head down to your toes. Start at the top of your head and imagine all of your muscles beginning to relax and then move onto your face, jaw muscles, neck and travel all the way down your body.
Then, become aware of your breathing. When you do this, observe your chest gently rising and
falling and before long you could be asleep. A guided hypnotherapy visualisation can also
help you do this.
2. Establish good sleep hygiene practices
Keeping your room clutter-free and maintaining a cool temperature can aid in undisturbed sleep. Imagine your room to be like a peaceful cave which is quiet, free from distractions, dark and cool. Temperatures of 20c or below generally work best, so ensure that your curtains or blinds are closed and block out any light. Switch off all electronic devices as the blue light will stop the production of melatonin which helps you sleep naturally. Also, turn around any bedside clocks with bright displays away from you. Also, you can try using a traditional clock instead of your phone or laptop to wake you up in the morning as there's no harsh light emitting from them.
3. Stick to a bedtime routine
Keeping to a bedtime routine is one of the key ways to get good quality sleep long-term and combat insomnia. The body has an internal clock which runs to a circadian rhythm which dictates the peaks and troughs of wakefulness and tiredness throughout the day. Forcing the body out of its usual body clock upsets the rhythms. Even at weekends, try and stick to your usual routine even though this may seem hard.
4. Ditch the caffeine by mid-afternoon
If you are a poor sleeper, one cup of coffee (typically 400 mg of caffeine) after lunch could be
enough to upset your sleeping patterns. In the evening, drinks like chamomile can make you drift off easily and are popular home remedies to help you get to sleep fast. Alcohol can also affect sleeping patterns and disrupts REM sleep, so try to avoid over-drinking.
5. Exercise during the day
Exercising during the day can help to create healthier patterns for a better night's sleep. Walking for 30 minutes every day can wake up the pineal gland in the brain, which is said to promote control of your sleep patterns.
6. Create a ritual
Create a regular bedtime routine that is relaxing, like having a bath, a shower, listening to
music, reading and using mindfulness practices to help relax the brain. Some people benefit from
using lavender oils or sprays on their pillows or using them in a bath to help them sleep through the night.
Try these natural home remedies to help you create a better routine for sleep and you'll stop counting sheep and catching more zzz's in no time!
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1. NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/news/lifestyle-and-exercise/sleep-problems-in-the-uk-highlighted/
2. National Institute of Health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK19956/