Having trouble falling asleep? Most people suffer at some point in their lives with an inability to get a good night’s sleep. This is often caused by worry and stress, and can have a real effect on day to day life.
Effects of tiredness
Extreme tiredness can show itself in many ways, just ask new mums! Studies have shown that a lack of sleep:
– Slows down reflexes and causes an increase in driving accidents, almost to the same level as intoxication
– It can cause brain ‘fogginess’, reducing alertness, concentration and problem solving abilities
– Chronic sleep loss can increase your chances of heart disease, strokes, diabetes and high blood pressure
– Insomnia is also strongly linked to depression. It’s not know which comes first, but in a 2007 study, people with insomnia were five times more likely to develop depression than those who didn’t
As well as all that, being super tired can really make you feel miserable! Everything seems like such an effort and the expression ‘wading through treacle’ springs to mind.
If your restlessness and inability to sleep is chronic or is severely affecting your life, as always, you should see your doctor. If you just need an occasional nudge to get to sleep more easily, here are some suggestions to try.
1. Using a Blue light filter app
Hands up how many of us scroll through our phones in bed? Catching up on Facebook, the news or writing emails just before going to sleep can disrupt both our ability to fall asleep and the quality of sleep once we do nod off.
Short wave length blue light (as given off by most electronic devices) suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that tells the body it’s ready for sleep. It’s useful during the day to keep us awake and alert, but is disruptive at night.
There are numerous apps on the market to overlay the blue light filter with a red light, and my particular favourite is called Twilight.
2. Practice good sleep hygiene
There are a number factors that contribute to good sleep hygiene including limiting daytime naps, avoiding stimulants like coffee before bed and getting into a good nightime routine.
3. Having a warm bath before bed
Did you know that your temperature drops at night, starting two hours before bed time with it’s lowest being between 4am and 5am?
So how does having a hot bath help you fall asleep sooner? When you soak in a hot bath your temperature rises by a a few degrees. Once you get out of the bath, the rapid cool down period actually relaxes the body making you more likely to fall asleep.
The most effective length of time to soak in a bath is between 20 – 30 minutes.
4. Get exercising!
Exercise has been shown to help chronic insomnia sufferers and there are a number of theories why it might be helpful.
There is a possibility that exercise causes a significant reduction in anxiety levels, which quietens the mind and slows the sympathetic nervous system (the body’s fight or flight response). It is also believed that high intensity exercise increases brain serotonin and tryptophan in the brain.
5. Consider products that encourage sleep
There are many beauty products out there to encourage sleep, here are a few recommendations:
Moon Juice, Dream Dust
Contains a wide ranging of sleep inducing ingredients, this supplement has achieved an almost cult-like following in L.A.
This Works, The Sleep Plus Pillow Spray
Clinically proven to provide a better night’s sleep
Aromatherapy, Relax Eye Mask
If the lighter mornings cause you to wake up earlier than necessary, this could be the solution. Expensive (£50) but effective.