It's estimated that around a quarter of the UK suffer from sleep problems and are consequently existing in a sleep-deprived haze. In this blog, I offer my top 10 tips to help you achieve a better night's sleep and explain where you might be going wrong.
My top 10 tips...
Struggling to get a good night’s sleep? Tired of not being able to doze off when you go to bed? You’re not alone… over 25% of the UK population are said to have sleep problems, that’s a lot of tired people! So what can be done to help? Here are 10 simple lifestyle changes and bedtime habits to help you achieve that elusive good night’s sleep…
1. Avoid caffeine
Caffeine stimulates the nervous system and puts it on red alert.
You might think you're safe having a cup of coffee or tea in the afternoon, but studies have shown that caffeine has a half-life of 3-5 hours – that’s how long it takes for your body to eliminate half of the caffeine you’ve ingested. The rest can linger in your body for much longer, with studies indicating that consuming caffeine 6 hours before bedtime can reduce your sleep by an hour!1
It’s not just coffee or tea either - remember that chocolate and fizzy drinks also contain caffeine too! Swap to natural alternatives like pure juices and herbal tea, or, if that afternoon cuppa is proving to be a hard habit to break, you could try our natural coffee substitute Bambu!
Incorporating organic chicory and Turkish figs, the recipe for Bambu was devised by renowned naturopath, Alfred Vogel, and it's definitely popular with our customers, helping to satisfy their coffee cravings but without the caffeine!
However, if tea is more to your taste, here at Jan de Vries we offer an incredible range of soothing herbal teas. Pukka's Night Time Tea is one of our particular favourites when it comes to sleep as it contains a calming infusion of oat flower, chamomile and lavender, gently helping you to unwind before bedtime.
2. Don’t drink anything in the last hour before bed
This helps you to avoid having to get up again for the toilet. If you do have to go to the toilet, try to avoid putting the lights on (obviously not if you’re going to fall over things), as this wakens you up too thoroughly to allow slipping easily back into sleep. If you do need a light, why not try using a torch instead?
3. Don’t eat late at night
Eating before bedtime should be avoided as it forces your body to be digesting when you should be sleeping. Not to mention, eating late at night has also been linked to night sweats, with sugary foods in particular causing your blood sugar levels to fluctuate, which can wake you up.
You could also try changing your evening mealtime to at least 2 hours (preferably more) before bedtime, or eat more at lunchtime and have a lighter meal at night. It might also be worth looking at your intake of magnesium - this mineral is crucial for over 300 chemical reactions in your body and plays a valuable role in sleep, helping to boost your mood and regulate your levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
Here at Jan de Vries, we often recommend Floradix's Liquid Magnesium as it's readily absorbed by your body, allowing you to reap the full benefits!
4. Relax your mind!
If you’re sitting up before bedtime, thoughts racing, it might be worth trying to relax your mind. Have a warm bath, read a pleasant book, try some mindful stretches or deep breathing exercises to help calm and quieten your mind.
It might also help to try clearing your mental agenda before you go to bed – make a list of things to do the next day or issues that you need to consider, and then put them aside for the night. Organisation is key, particularly if you're lying awake worrying about what you need to do the next day!
5. Get rid of distractions
Remove obvious sources of noise from your bedroom, e.g. pets, ticking clocks, phones that might ping in the night. A pair of black out curtains is a great way to block out any light distractions.
6. Reserve your bed for sleep
Having your bedroom packed with a television, computer and stacks of work makes it difficult for the brain to switch off and your body will associate being in bed with being alert and on edge.
Things that twinkle or flash or just emit electronic light such as TV’s, phones and laptops are known to disturb sleep by inhibiting your production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.
Instead of plugging in to your smartphone at night, try to put it to one side - don't rely on it as an alarm. This will only make it more tempting to access the device during the night! Not to mention, alarm clocks can interrupt your sleep pattern and cause grogginess, particularly if you're fond of hitting the snooze button!
Why not try a more natural approach to rousing yourself in the morning? Sunrise alarm clocks gently emit a light that mimics sunlight, gradually waking your body up instead of jerking it out of REM sleep!
7. Keep it cool
Have your bedroom slightly cool rather than warm, as overheating is not conducive to good sleep. That said; don’t get cold feet – literally! Having cold feet makes it difficult to fall asleep. Cosy bed socks and a cool room are a good team for sensible slumbering!
8. Fresh sheets help you sleep
Keeping fresh sheets on your bed, washing them often, and investing in an extra set so you can change them frequently, can help to create a relaxing ambience for your sleep environment.
It might also be worthwhile considering what type of bedding your using - synthetic sheets can irritate your skin and exacerbate sweating whereas cotton sheets allow your body to breathe.
10. Herbal helpers for a better sleep
Consider taking a natural remedy to help you sleep better and for longer. A combination of Valerian and Hops can be taken just before bed and will allow you to slip easily into a restful sleep.
This is because this gentle sleep remedy is prepared using fresh extract of Valerian, which can attach to your GABA receptors, reducing excitability in your nervous system, even lightly acting on your melatonin receptor to lull your body into a natural sleep pattern.
Since Dormeasan is only suitable for adults over the age of 18, if you’re looking to help young adults and children with their sleep, you could try a flower remedy, such as our Night Essence, which can help restore inner calm at night, helping you to feel more relaxed and restful.
Our top product picks
We have put together this sleep bundle just for you to help you drift off into a deep, natural sleep. Including a selection of soothing supplements and natural products, all of our suggestions are made specifically with your sleep problem in mind!