Sleep is something we always want more of, but due to busy (and potentially unhealthy) lifestyles, we can rarely catch up. Poor quality sleep can have negative effects on everything from your brain function to your hormones. It can cause weight gain, increase the risk of overall disease, contribute to low libido, make you more accident-prone, and change the appearance of your skin (not in a good way) — and that’s just scratching the surface. Essentially koalas have the right idea.
Here are a few that will help improve your precious sleep in the short and long term without needing to count sheep.
Cementing a sleep routine can be tricky when you’re leading an active social life but it’s seriously important for your body. While creating a routine won’t magically fix the problem overnight, it will help you achieve quality zzz’s in the long term. According to Healthline, irregular sleep patterns can negatively affect your levels of melatonin and alter your circadian rhythm, which both signal your brain to sleep. So, aim to go to sleep and wake up at a similar time every day and your body will get used to the habit and eventually you might not even need an alarm.
Increasing your dose of magnesium can aid with sleep as it helps your body to relax. It does this by regulating neurotransmitters that are responsible for sending signals to the brain and nervous system and in turn calm your mind and body. You can increase your daily intake of magnesium by consuming foods like green veggies, nuts, meat, fish, fruit and cereals. According to Healthline, studies on the effect of magnesium supplements on sleep are few and far between so best to stick to getting it through food for the time being.
At the end of a busy day, you can’t wait to crawl into bed but as soon as your head hits the pillow, your mind is racing. Meditating can help. It can be daunting to start the practice by yourself, so an app is a good place to start. Consider trying something like Headspace, which takes you through guided meditations led by a guy called Andy. His voice is like velvet. The app has a number of meditation packs to target different needs, including short meditation exercises for when you’re struggling to sleep.
The Sleep Health Foundation recommends not using your phone or any other technological distractions while in bed because you’re in an environment for sleep, not entertainment. You need to make this a habit and it’s a hard habit to break. Smartphones and computers also emit blue light, which tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. This in turn reduces the production of the hormone melatonin, which helps to relax your body and encourage deep sleep. If you’re struggling to get to sleep, avoid reaching for your phone and endlessly/mindlessly scrolling.
Don’t underestimate the impact the look and feel of your bedroom has on your sleep. Noise, artificial light, temperature and furniture arrangement can all impact on the quality. Creating a comfortable and relaxing environment is key and according to Healthline, one study found that roughly 50% of women experienced improved sleep when noise and external lights were reduced. Consider trying an eye mask to block out light, invest in a white noise machine or change around your bedroom furniture to see if this helps. A fresh set of bed sheets also helps. We love these linen ones from In Bed Store.