Exhausted? 5 simple, yet really effective, ways to improve your sleep
Feeling like you always wake up just as tired as you felt when going to bed?
You are definitively not alone. But the good news is you can improve your sleep – and it's not actually very hard to make some effective changes.
Sleep is a major problem for so many of us, apparently. In fact; so severe is our collective sleep issues that experts are now talking about a 'sleep crisis' happening. An entire generation (and beyond) that are not getting enough shuteye at night – and the knock-on effects are many and pretty dire too.
I mean; be honest: When was the last time you woke up feeling energized, refreshed, and ready to start the day? Do you find yourself in bed at night with a busy mind, going over the day that just finished or worrying about the future? Or struggle to put down your phone even though you know you should be going to sleep? We are all guilty, I'm afraid. The problem? Over time, burning the candle at both ends affects your health and wellbeing.
Unfortunately for us, research shows that women are more prone to insomnia than men (thanks, hormones) and that as many as 70 percent of women have sleep issues, and are not getting adequate rest at night.
Luckily, there are some pretty easy tricks and natural ways to help you sleep better at night – and I'll bet you'll notice a huge difference just by trying some of these tonight:
1. Pop the right supplements
You might think you eat fairly healthy, and that might well be the case, but as for sleep, studies have shown us just what you should be popping for the best shut-eye. Fish oil is a major one, with both DHA and EPA (which are found in fish oil) having been shown to help reduce norepinephrine, a stress hormone that is part of our fight or flight response.
According to experts, if your stress hormone levels are out of balance, it can keep you from sleeping well and can cause an afternoon energy slump. Try taking a high-quality fish oil supplement every day, as this will give your body the fatty acids it needs to promote rest and keep your brain sharp throughout the day.
Another supplement you should be considering is magnesium – also known as the anti-stress mineral.
Magnesium is required by your cells to make energy, soothe muscles, and wind down the brain at night, and most people don't reach their 300 mg RDA, which is why a supplement might help. Just make sure it also contains calcium to keep your levels balanced.
You can also start upping your intake of magnesium-ruch foods, such as dark leafy greens, nuts, and seaweed.
2. Wake up the same time every day
This might sound non-significant, but many studies have shown how making sure you wake up the same time every day can have a positive effect on your overall sleep cycle.
But try, you'll be surprised at what this does to you. A regular wake up time helps balance your biological clock and keeps your natural rhythm consistent.
3. Get more natural light
Daylight has a profound effect on our overall health and our rhythm when it comes to sleep and waking up. Try to open the curtains as soon as you wake up, to let the sunlight wake you up – which was, when you think about it, the way we were designed to wake up, long before alarm clocks and numerous phone apps.
In fact, exposure to more light during the day and less light at night is critical for healthy sleep patterns because it helps to calibrate the body’s internal “circadian” clock, a study team recently wrote in the journal Sleep Health.
According to the study, researchers found that people who were exposed to greater amounts of light during the morning hours, between 8 a.m. and noon, fell asleep more quickly at night and had fewer sleep disturbances during the night compared to those exposed to low light in the morning. As well as this, people getting more morning light were also less likely to report feelings of depression and stress.
4. Upgrade your bed linen
Confession: I have a thing about bed linens, and I am not about to change my view on this anytime soon. In my house, sheets and duvet covers and pillowcases (all of it, really) has to be white. Crisp, clean, preferably ironed – white. Which I realise is a terrible distribution of time when you have young kids, to stand around ironing bed sheets, but once you have tried just how perfectly smooth and cool and luxurious your bed becomes with this done, you'll never go back.
I mean; just think about fancy hotels? Almost always all-white bedsheets.
When it comes down to it, we spend pretty much half our lives in bed, so why shouldn't we splurge a little to make it more comfortable and sleep inducing? Look for sheets in organic cotton, and note the thread count, whereas a rule of thumb is the higher the number, the softer and of higher quality the sheets will be.
Thread count refers to the number of threads woven into one square inch of fabric—add the vertical ones (technically, the "warp") to the horizontal ones (the "filling"). But in reality, it's not that straight forward, experts say, so don't take the thread count figures as gospel. "Only so many pieces of thread can fit into a specific space," says Ariel Kaye, founder of bed linen line Parachute, to Elle Decor. "With bedding, that number maxes out around 400. That means some manufacturers employ some creative counting to land those 1,000-plus numbers. Instead, we use Egyptian long-staple fibres and the highest quality cotton. Those fibres translate to a stronger thread and lower thread count...but ultimately bedding that is softer and will last much longer than sheets made from a lower-quality fibre with a higher thread count."
As for colours, try to stick a single colour or at least keep the pattern you go for cool and calm. Why? Because this will appear more soothing, and bedrooms are meant to be a calm, restful space. Make sure you change your pillows every two years (yes, really) and your duvet every five-seven years too. As for your mattress, this should ideally also be changed every 10 years.
5. Diffuse some calming essential oils
Essential oils are having a major moment right now, and wellness experts are raving about the many benefits these can have to your overall health, and can impact anything from your digestion and energy levels to your sleep and mood.
And forget about those clunky oil burners you might remember from when the fad did the rounds in the 1990s. Now you should be diffusing your oils in a purpose-made diffuser, which will not only avoid you heating the oil (and therefore diminishing its quality), but will also add extra moisture to the air in your home, all the while spreading those gorgeous fumes around.
A quick search on Amazon will yield tons of results when it comes to diffusers, so really all there is left to do is pick one you like the look of and click it home. When it comes to sleep, oils like lavender, ylang-ylang and bergamot are all great choices, and you'll pick these up no bother at your local health food store for just a few euro a bottle.
Tell us, what are YOUR best tricks for a good night's sleep? Let us know in the comments or tweet us at @Herfamilydotie