A good night's sleep is the foundation to a healthy mind and body. Here, we are delighted to hear from Jo Webber, Herbal Education Lead at Pukka Herbs, who shares five natural ways to boost your sleep pattern.
Is there anything better than a good night's sleep? Getting enough rest can help you gear yourself up for the day ahead. But, if you're struggling to drift off at night, you're not alone. 16 million UK adults told Aviva that they struggle with sleepless nights. On top of this, the Covid-19 pandemic has seen 33% of the population sleeping less than before (Chemist4u).
Getting a good night's rest is the cornerstone to health and wellbeing. Not only will having less sleep than you need leave you feeling a little groggy and unprepared for the day, but many people have also reported that poor sleep has affected their mental health too (Mental Health Foundation).
Luckily, there are a few ways you can get your sleep pattern back on track, leading to a happier, healthier you. Follow my tips below and you may just feel an extra spring in your step the next morning!
5 Tips for a goodnight sleep to improve your health and wellbeing
1. Switch off
The key to developing a good sleep pattern is switching off each evening. While this can be easier said than done, there are a few simple steps you can take to help you make that break at the end of the day.
Creating physical boundaries can help remind your brain that it's time to switch off for now. In this instance, try to follow the old adage "out of sight, out of mind". If you work at home, closing the door to your office space or packing your work away can help create that break you need to switch off. If you're travelling home, then doing something relaxing on your journey, such as reading or listening to music or an audio book, can help unwind your mind for the evening.
Switching off from your devices can also go a long way towards a good night's sleep. While the blue light from your phone can disrupt your sleep pattern and make your brain think it's daytime, being tuned into notifications can also make it harder to relax. Putting your phone on 'do not disturb' at least an hour before bed can make a big difference.
2. Do something relaxing
Once you've finished all your daily tasks, whether that's work, cooking, or putting the kids to bed, it's important to have a little 'me time'. Trying a relaxing activity each evening can help you unwind and prepare for sleep.
Yoga can be particularly beneficial before bed, even if it's just for 10 minutes. Not only can the slow movements help soothe a racing mind, but the exercise can also ease any muscle tension, making it easier for you to drift off once you climb under your duvet.
If yoga doesn’t sound like your thing, then other activities such as taking a warm bubble bath, reading a book, and enjoying a cup of herbal tea can help you unwind and prepare for a more restful night. Whatever you choose to do, try to implement it into your night-time routine each day, as your mind and body will soon start to associate this with bedtime.
3. Try teas and supplements
It's no secret that caffeine can keep you awake, and while it can help to fuel you throughout the day, enjoying a cup of coffee or black tea in the afternoon could keep you up come bedtime. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that drinking caffeine in the six hours before bed can have a significant impact on sleep. So, why not try switching to an energising herbal tea instead? Herbs like lemon, ginger, cinnamon, and ginseng are naturally uplifting but don't contain caffeine, meaning they won't interfere with your sleep pattern.
Herbal teas can also help your mind and body wind down before bedtime. Look out for teas containing ingredients such as oat flower, lavender, chamomile and valerian root, all of which are known for their calming properties. Better yet, these teas also have incredibly soothing scents, so consider brewing yourself a cup, snuggling up and enjoying the comfort of a warm drink before bed.
If herbal tea isn't the choice for you, consider taking organic night-time supplements to help support restorative sleep instead. These contain many of the same ingredients as sleep teas but may also have other soothing herbs such as ashwagandha — an Ayurvedic herb used to reduce stress. Just take two capsules with water in the evening and feel yourself unwind.
4. Create a restful environment
Once you've switched off, it's important that your sleep environment keeps you in that restful state. The perfect conditions for sleep are a cool, dark room. The Sleep Foundation recommends a temperature of around 18°C, though this may vary by one or two degrees depending on your preferences.
Unplugging all your devices and installing blackout blinds and curtains can help stop any unnecessary light keeping you awake. Some people also find that an eye mask can benefit their sleep, particularly as a temporary measure or if they're travelling a lot.
As well as blocking light distractions, it’s essential to keep noise to a minimum. If you find that any small sound tends to keep you awake, you may sleep better with earplugs. Otherwise, soothing sounds like white noise, whale song, ocean sounds and rainfall can be especially soothing and help block out any outside distractions.
As an extra measure, consider a calming mist, such as a room or pillow spray in a relaxing scent. Botanicals such as lavender, chamomile and clary sage can be particularly good for helping you unwind and drift off, such as The Silk Collection luxury pillow mist.
5. Get into a routine
Once you've figured out the formula for a restful night's sleep, try to stick to it and develop a routine. Going to bed and waking up at the same times each day can help, as your body will soon learn to feel tired when it's time to go to bed. Staying up for an extra couple of hours on a weekend won't make too much of a difference, but try to wake up at your normal time to keep your routine in check.
If you're having difficulty falling or staying asleep, you're not alone. But by following the tips above, you can prepare your body for rest and develop a healthy sleep pattern. Why not give one or two of them a try tonight?