If it takes you less than 5 minutes to fall asleep at night, you are sleep deprived. On average, it takes people between 10 and 15 minutes to fall asleep so if you find you’re falling asleep faster than that it means you are definitely over tired. Adults are recommended to get at least 7-8 hours sleep each night so to perform at your best the following day you need to ensure you are factoring in your full night’s sleep. However, this can be easier said than done for many, sometimes even the sleep deprived still have trouble sleeping at night and the recommended 7-8 hours aren’t even an option. We’re here to help with these 8 useful tips below to help you break the sleepless night cycle and get you back on track at your most productive again.
1. Get into a routine
This nearly goes without saying but a routine is crucial! If you manage to get into the habit of going to bed around the same time each night your body will naturally begin to anticipate the time it’s due to shut off. Whilst this can be difficult to achieve, a good practice to try is to set an alarm or reminder on your phone a half hour before you’d ideally like to be asleep. From this time you can start prepping for bed with the aim of being set up for your full night’s sleep within the half hour. A very simple concept but one that will have a powerful impact on your sleeping pattern.
2. Put your phone away
Numerous studies have shown that the LED screen and blue light our phones and tablets emit can greatly affect your sleep cycle. These lights can slow or even halt the production of melatonin which is the hormone that signals our brain that it’s bed time. Not only this, but as it gets later in the evening we are naturally trying to wind down and switch off in preparation for bed and by using your phone you are only doing the exact opposite. You’ll have texts, emails and social media notifications coming left, right and centre which will naturally send your brain into overdrive (especially if it is anything work related). The very last thing any of us want to do is start thinking about the day or week ahead, you won’t get anything done from your bed so just take that time to switch off as much as possible with the aim of being more productive the following day instead.
3. The after eight rule
It’s also a good habit to cut out any late night snacking. Your metabolism is entering rest mode and so your digestive systems begins to slow, trying to break down and digest food at this hour will only put additional stress on your body. You could end up suffering with indigestion, acid reflux or heartburn (especially when lying down after a big feed), all of which will make it far more difficult and uncomfortable to get a good night’s sleep. Avoid spicy or high-fat foods in particular and caffeine (obviously) but that also includes tea, switch to decaf if you can’t go to bed without your beloved cuppa. And most importantly, always avoid anything high in sugar, this will send your blood sugar levels soaring which will lead to an increased stress response in your body and in your cortisol levels. You may end up tossing and turning or if you are lucky enough to get some sleep, it’ll be a very restless one.
4. Don’t go to bed until you actually feel tired
So yes, we did advise you to go to bed at the same time each night, however we wouldn’t advise going to bed if you are wide awake and are fully aware that you simply will not sleep. The worst thing you can do is to try and force yourself to sleep when you’re in this state. Instead, what is recommended is to begin unwinding a half hour prior to your ideal bed-time (as mentioned above) and if you still aren’t prepared for sleep by bed-time itself, you should take a book or newspaper and read from a comfortable position that’s not too far from your bed – it could even be in your bed but sitting upright. Read until you’re good and tired and then slip straight into bed.
Persons experiencing sleep insufficiency are also more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity.”
5. Breath through your left nostril
Yes really, this is a sneaky yoga trick that can help reduce your blood pressure and calm you. Peter Smith, holistic sleep therapist and author of Sleep Better With Natural Therapies, recommends to lie on your left side, resting a finger on your right nostril to close it. “Start slow, deep breathing in the left nostril.” Worth a try, right?
6. If restless, get up!
If you take one tip away from this article, make it this one. When you lie down in bed ready for sleep but sleep doesn’t actually happen, you end up restlessly changing positions and before you know it it’s 3am and you’re still wide awake. When you get into bed and lie down with your head hitting the pillow you are sending a signal to your body to let it know it’s time for sleep. However if you’re too wired and you can’t fall asleep within a reasonable timeframe that signal soon wears off and your body is no longer aware that it’s time for bed. So if this does happen, it is vital that you get up, move around or go to another room or position to read and switch off. Only when you begin to feel tired can you go back to your bed and a fresh ‘sleep time’ signal will be sent.
7. Stroke your cheek
So you don’t necessarily have to stroke your cheek but you could. The trick is to find a habit, like stroking your cheek, that you can do every evening when drifting off to sleep. This will send a signal to your mind that will let it know you’re ready for sleep. On night’s when you’re sleeping well, stroke your cheek (or similar) as you drift off and focus all of your attention on exactly how it feels. By repeating this over successive nights you should train your body to feel sleepy when performed.
8. Bore yourself to sleep
Perhaps you’re not a fan of reading or it’s just all too much effort for you. Another way to clear your mind recommended by Sammy Margo author of The Good Sleep Guide, is to recall your day from start to finish in as much detail as possible. We’re talking exact conversations, sights, smells and sounds, anything and everything that happened that day and don’t skip a beat.
Eating well and working well go hand in hand. If you want to be productive in your work life and stay energised throughout the whole week, a healthy diet and enough sleep is absolutely necessary. Here’s a list of some of the best foods to get into your trolley on your next food shop!