A good night’s sleep seems to be the remedy for everything: from anti-ageing to better mood. But just like with most things in life - you need to put in the work first and yes that means to learn how to actually sleep better.
Having trouble focusing and relying on caffeine to keep you awake are just a couple of ways your body is telling you to get some rest. But between busy schedules, stressful jobs, and unhealthy habits – falling asleep may be easier said than done.
Research shows that 35 to 50 percent of adults suffer from symptoms of insomnia. Sleep deprivation has been shown to have serious health risks, including increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory disease. Not to mention sleep plays an important role in your immune system.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to improve your sleep naturally. Keep reading to learn our 5 tips for hitting the hay and getting some zzz’s.
Why can't I sleep?
Stress, work troubles, private problems, travel fever, joyful anticipation before an important event are all causes that can keep you awake longer than you should at night. A cold or an itchy rash can also make us sleep badly from time to time. It can also simply be the old mattress, a bright street lamp, the moon or your neighbours having a party. Some of these aspects can be mitigated easier than others. Too many people, however, take their insufficient night's sleep for granted or try to combat it themselves with sleeping pills - often without lasting success or with only worsening their sleep problems.
We are actually familiar with many of the self-made sleep disturbances that come from lifestyle choices, but all too often ignore them in the hope of outwitting our inner clock. By having a look at some of your daily habits, you might be able to find the culprit that’s been keeping you from having a restful night.
If you often have trouble falling asleep, lying awake for more than half an hour, check how much and when you have consumed caffeine during the day: the morning cuppa, a mid-morning coffee, another one with an afternoon snack…and then you end up laying in bed restless and agitated. Caffeine is also found in many drinks and in chocolate, as well as in medicines. It takes several hours for it to be broken down in the body. If you have trouble giving up your coffee ritual, you shouldn’t have to - just swap it to something with less caffeine and more health benefits for your body. We recommend the Super Brew mix with slow releasing caffeine from black tea and additional superfoods and functional mushrooms that help you keep focussed for longer all while enjoying the habit of brewing a hot drink and a familiar aroma. Check it out here!
After drinking wine, beer or other alcoholic beverages, many people fall asleep more quickly. However, these effects of alcohol subside in the course of the night, then the withdrawal symptoms set in, which manifest in increased restlessness and other symptoms such as sweating, headaches, dry mouth.
3. Hearty dinner
Fatty foods keep the digestive system busy, and spicy foods also promote heartburn. If you eat too much before going to bed, it is not only difficult to fall asleep, but you often also have problems sleeping through the night. It can also be that you have eaten too little in the evening and the grumbling stomach doesn’t allow you to fall asleep!
4. Lack of movement
If you don't move enough throughout the day, you take your natural need for movement into bed with you as a subliminal restlessness. Sufficient physical activity during the day may prevent sleep disorders. If the blood supply to the body is poor, the muscles are untrained and tense and the joints are stiff, this also has a negative effect on the natural sleep rhythm. One exception: if you do a lot of sport shortly before going to bed, you often have trouble falling asleep because your body is still running at full speed. An evening walk is less exhausting and helps most people to have a restful night.
5. Chronic stress
The best mattress and perfect sleeping setup is often of little use if the thoughts are running through your head and don’t seem to rest. A structured day, targeted stress management and regular relaxation are essential. Please also consider support from a professional such as a therapist!
5 tips to sleep better
Tip 1: Exercise
Studies show that exercising 3-4 times a week can help improve your sleep and keep you more alert during the day. How? Exercising increases the time spent in deep sleep – the most restorative sleep phase. During this time, your heart rate slows, your muscles are relaxed, and your brain waves are at their slowest. This phase is essential to energy restoration, cell regeneration, and supporting memory and brain function.
In a sleep study, 14 elderly subjects were exposed to light physical activity for two weeks, while 9 elderly subjects were not. During the two weeks, the group of 14 had noticed improved sleep and an increase in focus and mood.
Regular exercise can also tire you out, leaving your body more prepared for rest at the end of day. However, studies show that timing is everything. Avoid working out in the evening, so your body has time to cool off and unwind before bed. Exercising too close to bedtime may have adverse effects on your sleep.
Tip 2: Unplug
If you’re one of the many who likes to unwind with a little screen time, you’re not alone. But studies show that scrolling Instagram or watching tv before bed is negatively impacting your sleep and overall health.
The artificial blue light emitted by electronic devices actually delays your body’s internal clock, and makes it more difficult for you to fall asleep. Studies show that blue light also suppresses melatonin – a natural hormone that signals the body to go to sleep. In a Harvard study, researchers compared the effects of 6.5 hours of blue light exposure to exposure of green light. The blue light suppressed melatonin for twice as long and shifted circadian rhythms twice as much as the green light.
The solution? Try setting an electronics curfew for yourself 1-2 hours before bedtime. Place your phone away from your bed, and begin a nightly routine that allows for a good night’s sleep. A warm bath, stretching, then reading are great ways to fully relax before you catch some zzz’s.
Tip 3: Stick to a schedule
Studies show that going to bed at the same time every night helps to regulate your body’s internal clock which increases the quality of your sleep.
Your circadian rhythm, or internal clock, is controlled by a part of your brain called the hypothalamus. This portion of your brain sends a signal to your body to release melatonin, which makes you sleepy. If you have a normal schedule, your circadian rhythm coincides with day and night, but when it’s interrupted by things like jet lag or a late night, you might feel out of sorts the next day.
In a 2009 study, 160 students underwent a sleep survey and were put into three groups of irregular bedtime schedules. After two weeks of logging their sleep, researchers found that the students with more irregular sleep schedules suffered from poor sleep and poor performance.
For a better night’s sleep, researchers suggest going to bed and waking up within the same 30 minutes every day. The bedtime feature on your iPhone makes creating a sleep schedule so much easier! All you have to do is input your sleep schedule, and your iPhone will remind you when it’s time for bed. This feature also mutes all notifications till you wake up, so you have a sweet, uninterrupted slumber.
Tip 4: Drink a golden latte
Golden Mellow is everything you need to calm your nerves and relax your body from the inside out; turmeric, ashwagandha, ginger, cinnamon, lucuma and pepper. Turmeric is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory powers, while ashwagandha will reduce your stress and anxiety and help you get a good night’s sleep.
The next time you need to find your calm in the chaos, mix up a Golden Mellow Latte; get the recipe here!
Tip 5: Meditate
Having trouble “letting go” of the day? If a busy mind is keeping you awake at night, try meditating. The practice of meditation dates back hundreds of years, but its purpose has remained the same – to quiet the mind and find inner peace.
Meditating before bed has been shown to relieve stress and promote feelings of calmness. In addition to its anxiety-reducing effects, meditation may increase melatonin and serotonin, and improve the autonomic nervous system, which controls how easily you’re awakened.
A 2015 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine evaluated the effects of meditation on 49 adults with moderate sleep issues. Some participants were assigned 6 weeks of meditation, while some were not. At the end of the study, those who participated in meditation had fewer insomnia symptoms and an increase in energy.
Dr. Herbert Benson, of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine says these findings come as no surprise. “Mindfulness meditation is just one of a smorgasbord of techniques that evoke the relaxation response,” says Dr. Benson. “The relaxation response can help ease many stress-related ailments, including depression, pain, and high blood pressure. For many people, sleep disorders are closely tied to stress.”
So, what’s the best way to meditate? Sit in a quiet place, away from distractions and close your eyes as you begin to focus on your breath. You can repeat a sound like “om” or repeat a phrase or prayer. If you notice your mind wandering, simply bring it back to your breath or chosen focus. Most people practice meditation in the morning right after waking up but have you ever tried a meditation to fall asleep? Read on to learn more about this practice!
What you need to know about sleep meditation
A specific sleep meditation can help you if you often lie awake at night and the thoughts in your head are spiralling. Especially if you are new to meditating, you may find the practice difficult at first. The right atmosphere is the key to getting into the right headspace:
Turn off all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before meditating to fall asleep. Mobile phones, laptops and televisions emit so-called blue light, which increases your brain activity and hinders the release of the sleep hormone melatonin.
Dim bright or very bright lights. You can instead light the room where you want to meditate with candles, salt lamps or fairy lights. Do everything you want to do before going to bed. Meditation should be followed directly by rest and sleep. Meditation as a ritual right before bedtime signals to your body: it's bedtime!
You can always just stick to a guided meditation with someone speaking to you or maybe even music. However here are two other forms of sleep meditation for you to try out: Breathwork and bodyscan
Breathwork for better sleep
For this form of sleep meditation, you only need a quiet room. You can do the breathwork meditation on your bed or on a blanket or yoga mat on the floor.
Lie on your back in a comfortable position. Stretch your legs out, your arms resting loosely at your side. Close your eyes. Briefly scan your body and if you find any tension, consciously try to relax these areas. Also pay attention to your face: relax your eyes, your forehead, your mouth.
Now focus on your breath. Breathe in through your nose, deep into your belly, counting to ten. Breathe out through your nose and count to ten again. Repeat at least ten times.
Tip: If you notice that your thoughts are wandering, shift your concentration away from your head and back to your body. Try to follow the path of your breath through your nose into your belly and back. Keep feeling into your chest, abdomen and pelvis.
Body Scan for better sleep
During a body scan you focus on the different parts of your body. This form of sleep meditation draws your attention away from your thoughts and at the same time releases tension in your body.
Lie down in a comfortable position on your back. Stretch out your legs, your arms rest loosely at your side. Close your eyes. Breathe slowly and deeply through your nose into your belly and out again. Become aware of the weight of your body. Feel into the places where it touches the ground.
Then focus on your face. Let your eyes, forehead, jaw and mouth become soft and heavy. Now turn your attention to your neck and shoulders. Consciously allow relaxation to flow into them.
Relax your arms and fingers. Then focus on your belly, your back, your hips, your legs, your feet, your toes. Let all parts of the body become soft and heavy. Be sure to breathe deeply and slowly into your belly throughout the meditation.
Try out the different ways to sleep better and be patient with yourself! Practice makes perfect and try to stick to the form that works best for you in order to give your body the rest it needs to flourish.