health

Need help falling asleep? These 5 things are better than counting sheep.

need help falling asleep
255 … 256 … 257 … this sucks.

By MELISSA WELLHAM

We all take care of ourselves during the day. Or at least, most of us try to. Exercise, eating well, wearing sensible shoes if you’re going to be walking a long distance (everyone fails this last one occasionally). The usual.

But despite our best efforts to looks after ourselves during the day, many people don’t think about what it takes to have a healthy night’s sleep.

When you don’t get a good night’s sleep you’re likely to be more stressed the next day. And when you’re stressed, it means you’re even less likely to get to sleep for the second night in a row. It’s a vicious cycle.

I have suffered from insomnia, on and off, for many years.

Whenever I have had sleeping problems, I have become an emotional wreck. Tired, weepy, and unable to concentrate. It’s not pretty.

But over the years, I have developed some tips and tricks to help me get through the night. So if you need help falling asleep, this may help you. Fingers crossed.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is brought to you by Sealy Posturepedic Matresses. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.

1. Relaxation

This may seem pretty obvious – but it’s difficult to do in practice. The more you tell your body to relax (or your mind to ‘just shut up already, please, I’m tying to sleep’) the less likely it is to happen.

My number one piece of advice for overcoming sleep problems is to download meditation podcasts. Seriously.

I know, I know. It’s a little bit hippy and kooky, but listening to meditation tracks has absolutely worked wonders for my sleeping patterns. You can download plenty of free meditation podcasts online – many of them specifically designed to help you get to sleep – pop in some earphones, and just follow the sound of soothing voice into oblivion.

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If the idea of a stranger whispering quietly into your ear as you’re trying to get to sleep sounds a little creepy, then you can always try the classic ‘soothing whale noises’ or ‘peaceful melodies of the rainforest’ tracks.

need help falling asleep
Instead of tea, try a glass of warm milk before bed.

2. Food

What you eat before bed can also have a surprisingly significant effect on how you sleep throughout the night. Hot tip: don’t eat a whole wheel of sharp cheddar before bed. You will be having some fairly bizarre dreams if you do.

Other foods and beverages to avoid include wine, tea and coffee from 3pm (do I really need explain this one?), and dark chocolate.

Foods that apparently help improve sleep include cherries, bananas, and – like your grandmother always said – a warm glass of milk.

Some argue that milk improves sleep because it contains tryptophan, which is involved in seratonin production. Personally I think warm milk just brings back comforting childhood memories, but whatever floats your boat.

3. Bed

If you’re uncomfortable in bed, there’s no way you’re getting a good night’s rest. If it’s winter, throw an extra blanket on the bed. If it’s summer, switch to cool sheets. This will help stop you freezing/overheating while you’re asleep.

need help falling asleep
‘Mattresses nowadays are surprisingly high-tech.’
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Mattresses are also one of the keys to a good night’s rest. If you’ve got an old mattress which has a sagging cavern running through the middle, then you’re probably not getting the best sleep possible. Just a guess.

Consider investing in a new mattress, perhaps even one that has been specifically designed to meet any needs you might have. For example, if you’re one of those unlucky folk who suffer from back and neck pain, then there are mattresses that can help combat this.

Mattresses nowadays are surprisingly high-tech, and can help keep your body in the correct alignment while you sleep, while still remaining comfortable with all their springy goodness. Thank you, modern mattress technology.

4. Technology

In our constantly connected, digital age it’s hard to disconnect. But this inability to literally switch off the television/computer/smartphone also makes it more difficult when we’re trying to metaphorically switch off at night.

need help falling asleep
‘Studies have shown that using electronic devices before bed can adversely affect your ability to get to sleep.’
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Studies have shown that using electronic devices before bed can adversely affect your ability to get to sleep. Some scientists have theorised that it’s because the light from screens disrupts our circadian rhythms, while others think it’s merely because online content is overstimulating the brain.

Using a tablet, laptop or desktop for two hours before bedtime can lower your melatonin levels by 22 per cent – which can have an adverse effect on your sleeping patterns, because melatonin the chemical that helps your brain mellow.

So unless you’re only looking at your phone to load one of the aforementioned meditation podcasts, just try reading an old-fashioned paper-and-ink book before bed.

5. And a few other points…

Try to exercise throughout the day so you’re not full of energy in the evening. Create a sleep routine, and try to go to bed at the same time every night. Also have a pre-sleep routine, like taking a bath and then doing some light stretching. Write down your worries earlier in the day, and also write a gratitude list – so you’re in a better emotional place in the evening. Keep your room dark, quiet and at a moderate temperature.

And if all else fails, put some lavender drops on your pillow. It never worked for me, but you might be luckier!

There is just nothing better than getting a good night’s sleep to set you up for the day.

need help falling asleepWe all do a lot to take care of our bodies during the day, but what are we doing to take care of it at night? Along with a healthy diet and exercise, a good night’s sleep is essential for your health and wellbeing.  Good sleep is within our reach: with Sealy’s Titanium-alloy coils and unique ComfortCore centre, every Sealy Posturepedic bed is designed to allow you to completely relax and recover.  Designed in conjunction with orthopaedic surgeons, Sealy’s unique coil design senses and responds to the shape of your body to deliver the correct support that’s right for you.

 

Do you have any tips or tricks for those who need help falling asleep at night?

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