Some people fall asleep easily, stay asleep all night and wake up feeling totally refreshed and ready to face the day. I am not one of those people.
Falling asleep comes fairly easily to me, but staying asleep, not so much. A typical night’s sleep goes something like this: drift off at some point before midnight, wake up around 2am, toss and turn for several hours, either eventually falling back to sleep and waking up to my alarm feeling groggy and unrested, or giving up on sleep and mainlining coffee for the rest of the day. Neither is ideal. Over time I’ve learned that the following strategies help me sleep more soundly.
About half an hour before I go to bed I make myself a mug of Pukka Night Time tea. Admittedly it tastes a bit weird, but you get used to it and the combination of herbal ingredients works like a sleeping pill in a mug. If you really can’t get on board with the taste a mug of warm milk, cookies optional, works well too.
Download Sleep Cycle
The Sleep Cycle app is brilliant. You plug in your iPod, type in what you’ve been up to that day, select a sound to listen to as you fall asleep and, finally, set your wake up time. During the night the app tracks your sleep patterns and wakes you up when you’re in the lightest sleep phase so it’s less of a shock to the system. The genius of it is that over time you can work out what helps you have your best night’s sleep and change your routine accordingly. Be warned, you will get obsessed with your stats.
Eating a big meal right before bed usually results in a bad night’s sleep for me, but a snack of a small banana or a handful of almonds (both of which contain sleep-promoting ingredients) about an hour before I hit the sack helps me sleep better. I’m yet to try it, but apparently a glass of cherry juice, or a handful of fresh, for zone or dried cherries before before bed helps you sleep better too. There are also natural supplements like melatonin or kratom, which people swear by for ages. You can look for kratom shops near you online – or get melatonin at pretty much any pharmacy close to you.
Have a lavender-scented bath
At the end of a busy day a warm bath puts me into sleep mode, even more so when it’s scented with lavender, which is well known for its sleep-inducing properties. Cowshed’s Knackered Cow range, which includes a bath and shower gel, body lotion and candles is my favourite.
Get your om on
Having read that in order to get a good night’s sleep it’s best to avoid exercising in the evening I was a confirmed morning yogi, until my Sleep Cycle stats showed that I sleep better when I do yoga in the evening. The brilliant Women’s Health Big Book of Yoga suggests the following sequence if you suffer from insomnia: a couple of rounds of cat and cow followed by a seated forward fold, plow pose, shoulder stand, legs up the wall, finishing up with savasana.
Do you struggle with your sleep? What helps you get a good night’s sleep? Do share below.