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How to trick yourself to sleep

In today’s fast-paced, non-stop world, research by the UK’s Sleep Council has found that almost a third of us don’t get enough sleep most nights. If you’re reading this article we’re guessing you’re one of those people. We feel for you. There’s nothing nice about lying there, thought and worries flooding your mind; or feeling wide awake, wired and irritable, tossing and turning and simply unable to slip into slumber. But what can you do about it!?!

 

Kim Jones (a health and wellbeing journalist) has written an amazing book to help you trick yourself to sleep. There are 222 brilliant sleep hacks in her book split into 8 categories – Before Bed Wind-Down Tricks, Mind Tricks, Bedroom Tricks, Food and Drink Tips, Body Tricks, Breathing Tricks, Daytime Tricks and Taking The Stress Out Of Sleep – but we’re going to tell you about a few of our favourites.

 

To sleep soundly you must feel safe

 

You need to feel safe at night to sleep well. Any fears you may have about being burgled or having a fire in the house, for example – or even after watching a scary film or the news – could keep you in a state of high alert and interfere with your sleep. So if you hear a movement or a creak that you can’t identify, your body’s sympathetic nervous system will activate your fight-or- flight response. This will release adrenaline, which ramps up your heart rate and blood pressure, making it difficult to switch off and sleep. If you do drop off, chances are you’ll still be in a state of hyper-arousal, with your brain (and subconscious mind) more active than it should be, monitoring what’s going on around you. So sleep will be light, not refreshing, and you’ll easily be woken. Take action to feel safer. This might mean getting a house alarm fitted and using it at night, checking smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working, installing better door and window locks. It may also mean that, if you find the news is disturbing you, you take a break from watching or listening to any bulletins after 6 p.m. And avoid horror films, true-life crime stories and disturbing books before bed.If you do suffer from fear or anxiety at night generally, then try to make your evenings calm and carefree – watch some comedy or a lighthearted film, or read a book that won’t put you on edge at lights-out.

 

 

Go forest bathing

 

‘Shinrin-yoku’ is a Japanese term meaning to immerse your-self in the atmosphere of the forest. This practice of ‘forest bathing’ – walking slowly through woods and forests, watching nature and inhaling the trees’ essential oils – has been found to offer a host of physiological and psychological health benefits. These include helping to lower stress, to boost the immune system and to improve people’s mood.And it seems trees could also help you get better zzzzzs too. A Japanese study revealed that wandering through woods improved the depth and quality of the participants’ sleep.9If you have countryside, woods or forests near you, spend time exploring them and walking mindfully through them, using all of your senses to soak up the atmosphere around you.

 

Don’t be vitamin D-deficient
Vitamin D is vital for healthy bones, but it’s estimated that around one in five of us in the UK has insufficient. As well as vitamin D having bone-boosting benefits, research links a deficiency with poor sleep. One study of older men found that those with low levels had difficulty dropping off, and their sleep was disrupted and restless.9 Research published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience found that the sleep of twenty to fifty-year-olds with sleep problems who were given a vitamin D supplement improved, compared with individuals given a placebo. The main source of vitamin D is sunlight and its action on our skin. Never let your skin burn in the sun. But experts say we should try to get a dose of sunlight from the end of March to the end of September, once or twice a day for 10 minutes at a time and without sunscreen, to top up our vitamin D levels. What’s more, the Department of Health recommends that everyone consider taking a 10 microgram supplement daily, especially in autumn and winter.Good sources of vitamin D are oily fish such as salmon and sardines, eggs and cereals, juices, dairy products such as yogurt and milk, and cereals fortified with the vitamin.

 

For more helpful tricks take a look at Kim’s book