The sleep hacks that you need, from cold showers to warm socks
Do you feel like a walking zombie around the office today? Craving just one precious moment of reinvigorating sleep? Well, help is at hand. US Scientists have found that having a purpose in life could see you improve your sleep quality and have fewer nighttime disturbances.
The new study, which was published in the journal Sleep, Science and Practice, found that of the 823 people between the ages of 60 and 100 surveyed, 63 per cent were less likely to have sleep apnea if they reporting having meaning in their lives.
Finding meaning in your life is just one of many tricks in the playbook when a full nights sleep is required. Before you reach for the sleeping tablets, try some of these other sleeping hacks.
Humans are endotherms, which means that we can regulate our own body temperature and make sure all our organs are working at the right temperature. Our biggest drop in body temperature is when we sleep. Our feet contain certain blood vessels that are designed to dissipate body heat.
That’s enough of the science stuff — how does this help you get to sleep? If you’re cold, pop some socks on and cut off the blood vessels that are chucking away your vital body heat. If you’re hot — more likely, during these sticky, worryingly sweaty summer months — just pop your feet out from under the duvet. Job done.
Sleep away from your phone
According to a report by Deloitte released last year, people in the UK have never been so addicted to their smartphones. But are you really going to be scrolling through Facebook while your eyes are closed? Come on, that cute dog video re-post can wait till the morning.
According to a 2014 report by Ofcom, eight out of 10 of us keep our mobile phones on next to us — but the blue light emitted from our smartphones has a stimulating effect, much like sunlight, making it hard for us to switch off.
If you use your mobile as an alarm just pop it in your bathroom, or the kitchen. And don’t use it 30 minutes before you plan to sleep. Instead, make yourself a cup of herbal tea (caffeine free, natch) and open a book; maybe you’ ll learn something as well as waking up all prepared to take on that anxiety-inducing 9am meeting.
We’ve all been there — thrust wide awake by a sudden hankering for a large slab of cheese and some slices of ham squashed into a crunchy baguette. Mouths are drooling with just the thought of it — but put the ham away, as high-fat foods can leave your digestive sys- tem whirring while the rest of your body battles to get to sleep.
Conversely, high in magnesium foods like avocado or mixed leaves could have a positive effect, with research showing magnesium improved the quality and length of sleep in insomniacs.
Ideally, you want to leave two hours between your last munch and that all important bed time.
Prep for the day ahead
A lot of those anxiety-building thoughts that are preventing you from getting to sleep are due to tomorrow’s schedule. Gary Zammit, PhD, director of the Sleep Disorders Institute in New York, suggests establishing a nightly routine to help shift your brain into sleep mode and prepare for the coming day.
So, get a headstart and organise yourself. Make your lunch, get your bag ready and lay our your clothes for the next day. Your future self will thank you for it.
Find some inner peace
A 2015 study, by the University of Massachusetts Medical School, showed that 58pc of insomniac participants were able to get a better night’s rest from having meditated. It’s not a shock to find that most restless nights are caused by stress, so anything that can help with soothing our daily issues is bound to produce results.
Meditation is also able to activate our autonomic nervous system, which helps with our digestion and breathing. There are plenty of instructional guides on YouTube that directly target those looking to meditate themselves to sleep. Give them a try and you may also see some benefits elsewhere in your life.
It’s no news to anyone when we say it has been Hades levels of hot recently. Remember from the socks, our body temperature naturally drops when we fall asleep. But, it’s tricky when we’re too busy sweating our guts out thanks to this unholy warmth.
So, take a cold shower at the start of the nightly routine. It’ ll drop your body temperature, tricking the old noggin into thinking that you’re ready for sleep. Ta-dah!
When all you want to do is get to sleep, we’ve got the tricks to help you.