FIVE WAYS TO RELIEVE INSOMNIA NATURALLY
THERE’S nothing more frustrating than spending a night staring at the ceiling willing sleep to come.
If you’re regularly finding it a struggle to drift off or stay in the land of nod you’re not alone: As many as 16 million UK adults regularly suffer sleepless nights, with a third (31%) reporting that they have insomnia, according to a 2017 survey by Aviva.
LIZ CONNOR gets some expert tips for a good night’s sleep:
KEEP REGULAR BEDTIMES AND WAKING TIMES:
“Our bodies love routine and follow a circadian rhythm,” says Dr Prudence Knight, online GP at Push Doctor (pushdoctor.co.uk). “This is driven by hormone levels which vary throughout the day.
“Go to bed and get up at the same time every day,” she advises, “including the weekends – and don’t nap. It can take several weeks for a sleep schedule to take effect, but the majority of people end up with a good pattern.”
CUT OUT CAFFEINE AND GO LIGHT ON THE BOOZE:
“Stay away from alcohol or caffeine six hours before bed,” says Dr Kim Glass, lead GP at Bupa Health Clinics (bupa.co.uk). “Caffeine is a stimulant and the effects can stay in the system for hours. Alcohol reduces the amount of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep you get – the type of sleep which makes you feel most rested.”
MAKE THE BEDROOM A DEVICE-FREE ZONE:
“Your bedroom should be a calm place, free of stressful distractions,” says Dr Glass.
“Tablets and smartphones emit blue light which can boost your attention span, suppressing your body’s natural sleep hormone, and can throw out your circadian rhythm which makes for a disruptive night’s sleep.”
GET SOME AEROBIC EXERCISE:
“Physical activity can help reduce stress and strengthen your body clock, making it easier for you to fall asleep and have a good night’s rest,” says Dr Glass.
EAT MAGNESIUM AND CALCIUM-RICH FOODS:
“Magnesium and calcium may be linked to poor sleep,” says behaviour change expert, Dr Aria
(dr-aria.com). “Magnesium is involved in muscle relaxation, and low intakes have been shown to make it harder to stay asleep.”
Good sources include green veggies, beans, nuts, seeds and wholegrains and you may also want to consider a supplement, such as Healthspan Opti Magnesium (£11.99 for 90 tablets; healthspan.co.uk).
“Calcium helps the brain use tryptophan to make melatonin, and low intakes of calcium have been shown to make it more difficult to fall asleep,” says Dr Aria. “Sources include dairy foods, green vegetables and soy.”
We all dread a sleepless night