Poor sleep is bad news for our moods and health...
24 December 2018| Last updated on 24 December 2018
There’s nothing more frustrating than spending a night staring at the ceiling – tossing, turning and willing sleep to come.
Between unanswered emails and unpaid bills, there are a million and one things that can keep you awake at night.
And poor sleep can have a significant impact on your mental health, mood and energy levels the next day.
When you’re desperate for some slumber, it’s tempting to raid the medicine cabinet for fast relief...
But sleeping pills can sometimes leave you feeling worse the next day and are not generally recommended as a long-term solution for everybody.
While there’s no guaranteed cure for insomnia - there are some natural solutions and lifestyle changes that could help.
1. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day
It’s tempting to stay awake for ‘just one more’ episode of the latest Netflix series, but messing with your sleep pattern can seriously affect your ability to drift off, sometimes for days to come.
When our body is running on a proper sleep schedule, we’re able to get out of bed in the morning and feel alert during the day.
2. Cut out caffeine and go light on the booze
The festive period is synonymous with alcohol consumption - the social engagements of the season can mean you drink way more than you usually would.
While we’d never begrudged anyone for getting involved in the festivities, overindulging in booze could cause your sleep to take a knock.
And if you’re relying on caffeine to power you through the morning after, this could also be adding to the problem.
Try to stay away from alcohol or caffeine for at least six hours before you go to bed, as they both can interfere with your sleeping pattern.
3. Make your bedroom a device-free zone
If a late-night scroll through Instagram is part of your bedtime routine, try swapping in a good book instead.
Not only can social media’s addictive nature keep you awake at night, but too much screen time can have a sleep-suppressing effect on your brain.
Tablets and smartphones emit blue light which can boost your attention span, suppressing your body’s natural sleep hormone, which makes for a disruptive night’s sleep.
4. Get some aerobic exercise
If you’ve been putting off using your gym membership all year, here’s a good reason to finally get some use out of it:
Physical activity can help reduce stress and can strengthen your body clock, making it easier for you to fall asleep and have a good night’s rest.
Be careful not to overdo it in the evenings though, as too much exercise late at night can keep you awake, rather than putting you to sleep.
5. Eat magnesium and calcium-rich foods
If you’re struggling to sleep, your diet could also play a key role.
Magnesium is involved in many processes within the body, including muscle relaxation, and low intakes have been shown to make it harder to stay asleep.
Good food sources of magnesium include green veggies, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
6. Try a ‘body scan’
Meditation can be a handy way of slowing down those racing thoughts.
A ‘body scan’ is a type of relaxation technique that helps to calm the mind and encourage sleep.
It’s all about honing in on different parts of your body and resting your attention with them, to help bring your mind into the present.