It’s 3 am, and you’re wide awake and watching the clock, counting down the hours until your alarm goes off. You’ve tried all the usual tips to fall asleep: a milky drink, counting sheep, reading a book… but nothing works.
Sleepless nights are the worst. And they affect more of us than you might think; over a third of UK adults in fact. According to a recent survey, 23 million people are currently living with sleep problems.
Insomnia is defined as: finding it hard to fall asleep, stay sleeping soundly, or waking up too early and struggling to get back to sleep. And even if you don’t have full-fledged insomnia, you might have snooze issues now and again. A whopping 67% of UK adults say they have disrupted sleep at least once a month.
You could also be struggling to sleep right now because melatonin – the hormone the body makes to get us feeling sleepy – is regulated by sunlight. Extended summer days mean your brain won’t tell you it’s time to go to sleep until much later in the evening. And you’ll probably wake up earlier and sleep more lightly. Sigh.
Why are tips to fall asleep so important?
As you sleep, your brain and body are hard at work recharging you for the next day. While you’re busy dreaming about winning the Olympics, or Brad Pitt, your body repairs cells, releases hormones and proteins, and restores your energy levels. Your brain files away new information and gets rid of toxic waste. Your nerve cells communicate and reorganise themselves, giving your brain function a boost.
Sleep is crucial for optimum mental and physical health, and not getting enough can have a significant effect on your quality of life. Research by the Mental Health Foundation revealed that 50% of people believe not sleeping properly increased the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Lack of sleep has also been linked to an increase in the likelihood of developing heart disease and diabetes, can contribute to premature ageing, and even has a significant role in road accident deaths.
Thinking about that little lot won’t help the next time you can’t drop off. But there are some easy to implement lifestyle hacks that WILL get you back into good sleeping habits again. Try out these simple tips to fall asleep and you’ll soon be waking up feeling refreshed, energised, and ready for anything. You really can be a ‘morning person’ – promise!
1. Eat yourself sleepy – food tips to fall asleep:
Love kiwis? You’re in luck! Studies have shown that eating two kiwis a few hours before bed can help you fall asleep faster and have better quality sleep. Bananas are another must-eat because they are rich in vitamin B6, which helps raise serotonin levels (the relaxing neurotransmitters that help you sleep). Munching on a banana is one of the easiest tips to fall asleep, because it also contains potassium and magnesium, which help relax the brain and can also soothe overstressed muscles.
Summer fruits like pineapple and sour cherries are both brilliant natural sources of melatonin, so eat plenty, but be sure to eat them in the morning – so they don’t spike your blood sugar. And try sprinkling your fruit with nuts like almonds, pistachios, and cashews. As well as melatonin, nuts also contain good amounts of minerals like magnesium and zinc, essential for healthy sleep.
Throw in a couple of portions of oily fish each week too, and you’ll vastly improve your sleep prospects. This type of fish is rich in Omega-3 – associated with sounder sleep and higher serotonin levels.
It’s best to stop eating about three hours before bed to give your body time to digest the last food you ate. If you must snack before bedtime, eat a small serving of a high-protein food, like a handful of nuts. This will keep your blood sugar stable. Avoid carbs as much as possible because they can wake you up in the middle of the night.
2. Get some early morning sunshine and watch the sunset:
One of the easiest and quickest tips to fall asleep starts as soon as you wake up! Sleep expert Andrew Huberman recommends heading outside and exposing yourself to some early morning sunlight for 2 – 10 minutes each day.
Getting bright light into your eyes triggers the release of cortisol into your system which wakes your brain and body up. So you can expect less falling asleep after lunch, and improved focus and concentration – yippee! It also triggers the storage of melatonin for later and kickstarts your circadian rhythm, which governs falling asleep at night and feeling wakeful in the day.
If you start the morning with bright light, as the day goes on, your cortisol levels will dip. Triggering melatonin to kick in and make you feel sleepy as the evening draws in. Natural light exposure at sunset will then kickstart your circadian rhythms into wind down mode. And it can even adjust the light sensitivity of your eyes, so it buffers you against some of the negative effects of light in the evening – bonus.
3. Make sure you banish these things from the bedroom:
Your phone – it has to go! Keeping a phone in the space where you sleep will focus your mind on potential stressors like social media or what’s going on in the news. Phones also emit blue light, which stimulates the brain and can disrupt melatonin production. So stop scrolling before bed! The same goes for TVs, computers, and tablets. Anything with a screen is a big no-no.
Messy bedroom? Time to get organised. Research shows that a cluttered room can have a significant negative effect on your mental and physical wellbeing and interfere with sound sleep. Let the clear out begin…
What’s your décor doing? If you’ve researched tips to fall asleep, you’ll find lots of sleep experts believe that purple, brown, and grey walls in bedrooms could stop you from sleeping. Instead opt for shades of blue, yellow, silver, green, and (yes really) orange, if you want to be able to relax and drift off.
4. Get the best snooze-time supplements:
Taking the right supplements should be top of your tips to fall asleep, and melatonin is a MUST. This hormone gets you ready for sleep and can be disrupted by everything from jetlag, to illness, and longer hours of daylight. It’s well worth topping yours up if you’re out of your usual sleeping groove.
Magnesium is another essential for sound sleep. Research has shown it can help you relax, reduce stress, and promote better sleep. If you’re a night-time worrier, try combining magnesium with natural anxiety relievers L-Theanine, DHH-B, and passionflower. You’ll find all these wonder ingredients in the Magna Calm patch.
Don’t like the idea of sleeping tablets (renowned for being habit forming)? A gentle, natural, sleep aid could be the answer. The herb valerian is clinically proven to improve sleep and is particularly effective when combined with natural sedative hops. You’ll find both these herbs PLUS melatonin in the Sleep Starter Plus patch. Everything you need to fall asleep fast and stay that way.
5. Free your mind:
Ticked off the other tips to fall asleep, but STILL can’t snooze? Try switching your brain off at bedtime. You can do this by listening to a guided meditation. Or give a simple relaxation technique like counting your breaths a go. Breathe in for one count, out for two, in for three, out for four, and so on. Imagine any thoughts that pop into your mind as clouds moving through the sky. This should help you clear your mind and relax.
If all else fails, give reverse psychology a go and try to stay awake instead! This technique is known as Paradoxical Intention (PI). Just lie in bed with your eyes wide open and focus on NOT falling asleep. You’ll head off any anxiety-associated insomnia, start to relax, and hopefully drift off. Sweet dreams!