If you struggle to switch off at night, don’t worry – you are not alone. A survey of our nation’s sleep habits found that only 38% of us can be classified as ‘good sleepers’ and a whopping 30% of us are severely sleep deprived.1
Aside from giving us the energy we need to tackle the day, sleeping well is essential for good health. Hitting the hay and getting regular high-quality sleep can help:
- bolster our immunity
- cell growth and repair
- boost mental wellbeing
- increase sex drive
Whereas regular poor sleep can put you at serious risk of medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, anxiety and depression, as well as shortening your life expectancy2 – so it’s important to get those ZZZs in!
Our lifestyle plays a big part in how well we sleep – so we’ve gathered the best research-backed tips to help you drift off and get the peaceful and restorative night’s rest you deserve.
1. Get moving in the morning
Although it may seem counter-intuitive to drag yourself from your bed to improve your sleeping, getting up to go workout in the morning is proven to help you sleep. American researchers found that women who were active for 45 minutes in the morning slept better than those who waited to workout in the evening.3 Bit of motivation to get you out of bed in the morning!
2. Under pressure? Try acupressure
Research has found that acupressure can significantly improve quality of sleep in populations with insomnia.4 Simply massaging the HT7 point that’s linked to insomnia could help you sleep better – clever, eh!
Here’s how: hold your thumb at the crease where your hand meets your wrist (below your little finger) firmly for two minutes.
3. Dust off your crayons
Getting back in touch with your inner child and doing a bit of colouring can help prepare your brain for sleep. A bit of colouring in can help de-stimulate your brain, which is just what you need to wind down after a particularly mind-boggling day
4. Worrying about sleep won’t help you sleep
Challenge worries instead of attempting to get rid of them. Try swapping anxious thoughts, like: ‘How will I get through work tomorrow if I can’t get to sleep?’ to more rational ones, like ‘I will be tired tomorrow, but it’s ok, I’ve handled it before’.
5. Sniff some lavender
One of the best essential oils for sleep, lavender is a long-standing sleep remedy – and perhaps proof you should listen to your granny! A recent review of studies shows a positive link between inhaling lavender and the improvement of sleep quality.5 Try popping some lavender oil in a diffuser or spraying some lavender sleep spray on your pillow before bed.
6. Focus on your breath
Breathing with intention could help calm your body and prep it for sleep. Dr Andrew Weil, a holistic expert, promotes the 4-7-8 breathing technique to help you fall asleep. Here’s how to do it:6
- Rest the tip of your tongue just behind your upper teeth and make a ‘whoosh; sound by exhaling through your mouth
- Close your mouth and breath in for 4 seconds through your nose
- Exhale through your mouth for 7 seconds
- Repeat until you fall asleep
7. Break the rules
Don’t aim for 8 hours sleep – obsessing about it could keep you awake, ironically! So how many hours of sleep do I need? You should aim to get enough sleep to ‘wake feeling refreshed’, which is a clear indicator that you’ve had enough.
8. Be more mindful – mindfulness meditation for sleep
Mindfulness is the act of focussing on your breathing to help being your attention to the present – not leaving it to dwell on the past or worry about the future. Several studies have shown that learning mindfulness techniques can dramatically improve sleep quality.7 Try focussing on your breathing and being present throughout the day and before bed to see if this type of sleep meditation can help you.
9. Strip off
Did you know that your body’s core temperature needs to decline before you can sleep? Try tricking your body into thinking it’s sleep time by layering up in cosy PJs and socks before bed, then shedding a layer or two before actually getting under the covers. Having a nice, warm bath before bed works too.
10. Massage those hands
You use your hands a lot throughout the day, so it should come as no surprise that they store a lot of tension. Try giving yourself a hand massage with essential oils before bed to help you release that tension and relax – choosing soothing ylang ylang, lavender or lemon grass oil for extra calming benefits.
11. Bring your ‘wine o’clock’ forward
Before you panic, we’re not advising you to ditch the vino! If you like a glass of wine in the evening, enjoy a glass or two just after work or before dinner so the effects will have worn off before you go to bed. This is advised because alcohol can disturb deep sleep patterns, one of the most restorative stages in our sleep cycle
12. Write it all down
If you’re worrying about something before bed, don’t let it ruin your sleep; get it all out before your head hits the pillow. We recommend grabbing a notepad and scribbling a list of the things you need to do the next day and anything that’s bothering you
13. Take breaks throughout the day
The ‘push through the stress’ mentality can leave you feeling ‘tired but wired’ at the end of the day, which can make it hard to wind down in the evening and fall asleep. Give yourself a break! Make sure to move away from your desk often and making yourself take a 3-5-minute break every hour or so throughout the day for better sleep.
14. Prioritise sleep
Instead of seeing sleep as that thing we do once our favourite TV show has finished or when we’ve sent that last work email, make it one of your top priorities. Don’t leave it too late either, most people find the best time to sleep is around 9 or 10pm, or as soon as you start to feel sleepy – not once you’ve finished all your ‘tasks’.
15. Stay hydrated
Dehydration can lead to headaches, restless muscles and disrupted sleep. Aim for a good 2 litres of water every day, stopping a few hours before bed so you don’t spend all night getting up for the loo!
16. Relax with child’s pose – yoga for sleep
Just before bed, try practicing a yoga move called child’s pose to relax. Simply kneel down and bring your big toes together behind you so you’re making a triangle shape with your legs and hips. Then fold forward from your hips with your arms extended in front of you and bring your chest towards the ground, allowing your hands to rest on the floor.
17. You should only be doing two things in bed…
… sleeping and having sex! If you get in bed to watch TV, check emails or even read a book, your brain will start to associate it with those things. Whereas, if you reserve your bed for just sex and sleeping, you’re more likely to get a good night’s rest.
18. Find what soothes you
Whether it’s dreamy scented candles, painting your nails or organising your bookshelf, find a soothing activity and create a special pre-bed routine to help you feel relaxed before the big snooze.
19. Regulate your bedtime
The body clock is very important when it comes to a restful night’s sleep, but our modern lifestyles can send it into a bit of a frenzy. One thing you can do to help your body know its bedtime is to go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time every day.
20. Less snoring, more snoozing
Got a partner snoring in your ear every night? It’s no wonder you struggle to sleep! A YouGov survey revealed that 52% of people share a bed with a snorer- and all that noise can certainly contribute to a poor night’s sleep8. The solution: get yourself some noise-reducing earplugs – you’ll thank us later.
21. Show some gratitude
Taking some time every evening to write down all the things in life you are grateful for can help you feel less anxious, boost your mood and even help you sleep better. It’s a no-brainer really. Try it and see if it works for you.
22. Crank up the classical
You may prefer EDM to Bach on the weekends, but when it comes to bedtime, classical music may be slightly more appropriate. The soothing sounds of classical (or other relaxing sleep music) can help your mind and muscles relax, ready for a peaceful night’s sleep.
Want to master you sleep hygiene?
Last updated: 5th October 2020