Sleep is one of our most basic needs, but so many of us just don’t get enough. At one point, we’ve all lain awake at 3am, Googling “how to fall asleep”, right?
There are so many ‘miracle’ and ‘surefire’ sleep solutions out there—but most of them don’t work? We take a look at the most promising sleep solutions and consider how to fit them into a busy life.
Sleep solution #1 – Limiting light & screen exposure
If you avoid your phone, laptop, tablet, and TV in the hour leading up to your bedtime, it’ll be much easier to sleep—or so the advice goes.
But while not exposing yourself to screens before bed helps, there is only so much we can take the screens out of our lives. Especially in the digital (read: pandemic) world. Sometimes an 11pm episode of your favourite show is a lot more soothing than trying to meditate or count sheep.
Yes, we should be aware of our screen time and reducing night time exposure, but having a consistent bedtime and wake-time will help even more. And there is mounting evidence that blue light at night is less of an issue if you get sufficiently bright light outside during the day.
There are ways to get away from screens in the evening without falling into a pit of under-stimulated boredom. In the minutes before bed, reading a book has been shown to promote deeply restful states, while still being stimulating. And read on for the next solution.
Sleep solution #2 – Have a hot bath before bed
Having a hot bath is not only relaxing, but it dilates your blood vessels so that you reach your optimum (cooler) sleep temperature faster. Add candles instead of overhead lighting for a triple benefit of temperature reduction, reduced blue light, and low psychological stimulation. Three birds with one stone.
Sleep solution #3 – Reducing caffeine
In a perfect world, none of us would be dependent on caffeine. We’d be happy with nothing but lemon water and a sun salutation to get us buzzing in the morning. But let’s be realistic. We’re living in unprecedented times, and adding caffeine withdrawals may just add more stress, leading to more sleeplessness.
Instead, try to avoid caffeine within about six hours of your bedtime.
Sleep solution #4 – Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone that’s naturally produced by your body. When taken as a supplement, it helps to induce drowsiness, reset your circadian rhythms and generally give you a good night’s sleep.
While melatonin is promising as a quick fix, especially if you’re taking it to recalibrate after jet lag or a few nights of insomnia, it’s not something you want to become reliant on. While it’s less likely to be habit-forming than synthetic sleep-aids, extended use isn’t recommended.
Sleep solution #5 – A healthy sleep routine
Just like having skincare routines and gym routines, we should also spend time on our sleep routines every day. This involves going to bed at roughly the same time every night, as being consistent with your sleep and waking times can really improve your long-term sleep quality.
Our bodies’ internal clocks are very sensitive and highly-tuned, so sticking to a routine will do wonders for anyone struggling with poor sleep. The hardest element is to wake up at the same time each and every day – whether it’s weekday or weekend. It’ll help synchronise your rhythm and your sleep quality.
This sleep solution may not be the quick and easy fix you want to hear, but it is the long term solution you might need.
Sleep solution #6 – Make your sleep space a comfortable haven
It’s important to also make your sleeping environment as comfortable and healthy as possible. Is your mattress the right firmness? Do you have light sheets for summer and warmer ones for winter? Are your pillows and bedding being washed and replaced often enough to deter bacteria and dust mites?
Reducing psychological arousal in your sleep environment can have a significant effect on the quality of your sleep. So get your phone and laptop out of the bedroom. And if you don’t have time to clean up any mess, cover it up!
You spend a third of your life in bed, so it’s well worth making it a cozy, inviting and comfortable space where you genuinely enjoy going every night.