From time to time many of us struggle to sleep – either to get to sleep or to stay asleep until it’s time to get up – and it’s estimated that a staggering 1 in 3 of us suffer with insomnia at some time. This can make us feel tired and more likely to have accidents in the home or car, more prone to arguments and to be dissatisfied with life.
Here are some simple ways to make sleep come more easily. Some may work for you, others may not. Try as many as you can – after all, you’ve got nothing to lose other than another night’s sleep. Also have a look here for more reasons why people find it difficult to sleep and what to do about it.
- Make an evening/bedtime routine. Have a warm bath (not too hot), milky drink, get into your pyjamas, read a book (preferably a boring one!) etc. Whatever suits you, but have a comforting, relaxing routine and stick to it. It’s the way you train a baby to sleep and sometimes in our busy lives we need to re-learn it. And remember to avoid anything too stimulating for about 2-3 hours before bed. That includes TV, video games etc and being able to switch off from work. See the link above for more tips on switching your mind off before bed.
- Avoid eating for about 3 hours before bed. Digestive processes slow down when we sleep and could keep you awake. However…
- Don’t go to bed hungry, as this may keep you awake too. Employ a bit of planning and…
- Eat more tryptophan rich foods throughout the day and make your last snack something like a banana and peanut butter smoothy. Tryptophan is nature’s sleeping drug; it’s essential for serotonin production and this is essential to our moods and sleep. Tryptophan-rich foods are protein-based foods but those with a high concentration of tryptophan are things like:
- Peanuts/peanut butter
- Cheese including cottage cheese
- Soy milk.
6. Have a massage with a partner to release tension, especially in the neck and shoulders.
7. Have sex. In men and women, sex causes the release of the ‘cuddle hormone’ oxytocin and make us more relaxed and ready for sleep.
8. Get the right balance between activity, exercise and relaxation. Too much or too little of any of these will make it more difficult for your brain and body to switch off for sleep.
9. Check out your sleeping environment. Is it:
- Tidy – a room that’s not calming because of its clutter can make sleep more difficult
- The right temperature – make sure it’s not too hot or too cold
- Dark enough – use black out blinds to block street lighting etc
- Somewhere where you want to be – spend some time making your bedroom a haven of tranquillity and relaxation. Get the lighting right, move the TV out, surround yourself with things that are precious/meaningful to you (without cluttering!)
- Quiet enough – if you can’t get used to traffic noises or even complete silence, use thick drapes/curtains to muffle the noise and try playing recordings of whale song or white noise (look on Amazon for these)?
10. Have you got the right bed? Of all the reasons we can’t sleep, this is probably the one we overlook most often. Beds/mattresses should be changed every 7-10 years to give us the best quality sleep. Look here to find out if you need a new bed.