One sheep, two sheep, three sheep, four…ZZZ.
When it comes to falling asleep the world seems to be divided into two camps. There are those who literally nod off the second their sleepy head hits the pillow (bitter us?) and then there are the snooze repellers for whom sleep Just. Won’t. Come. no matter how many sheep they count. *Sighs*
“In spite of our best efforts, there are still times when winding down becomes a challenge and your brain won’t switch off,” says Erin Berman, Nectar Sleep’s lifestyle and wellness expert.
While there are no guaranteed ways to fall asleep in five minutes flat there are some hints and tips you can adopt which could help you hit the land of nod as fast as possible. No sheep necessary!
Breathe in (through your left nostril)
While breathing techniques are tried and tested ways to help you relax before bedtime, what many people don’t know is that our nostrils are linked to two very different energies.
“According to ancient yogic traditions, breathing through the right nostril makes us feel energised and motivated, while breathing through the left is calming and relaxing,” explains Erin. “So before bed, take a moment to breathe long and deeply through the left side of your nose and feel the pressures of the day start to melt away.”
Take a hot shower before bed
“As well as the practical and therapeutic benefits, a hot shower can also help anyone struggling to drift off to sleep,” says Erin. “Because the sleep cycle is signalled through a body temperature drop, coming out of a hot shower into cooler air can jumpstart that process.” So the next time you’re struggling to snooze, try relaxing with a hot shower or bath.
Sip on chamomile tea
Chamomile works as a mild sedative, providing restful sleep through an antioxidant and vitamin called apigenin.
“Chamomile tea is a great bedtime beverage, its sleep-inducing properties as tea are historical and its calming effects have been used for hundreds of years,” explains Erin. “Plus, unlike some other hot drinks, it doesn’t contain the caffeine that can lead to restlessness,” she adds. If your circadian rhythm – the body’s natural day/night cycle – feels off, pour a cup of chamomile tea and see if it helps.
Your bedroom should be as sound and light proof as possible and investing in a set of thick curtains is one of the simplest ways of blocking out artificial light which can disturb sleep, especially if you live in an urban area.
Other artificial light to be aware of is blue light from tech. Recent research by Nectar Sleep revealed that Brits clock up hours and hours of work and socialising from their beds in a typical week. “Phones – as well as tablets and laptops – definitely have a bigger presence in the bedroom than they should, tricking the brain into thinking that it’s not ready for bed, which is why this space should be a screen-free zone,” Erin says.
Hypnotise yourself sleepy
Researchers from the universities of Zurich and Fribourg found that hypnosis can actually increase the quality of sleep.
We’re not suggesting you get your partner to swing a pocket watch in front of your eyes, but watching a five-minute hypnosis video from the comfort of your bed could help you nod off. Search ‘hypnosis for sleep’ on YouTube for the newgen way to hypnotise yourself sleepy.
Roll your eyes
Harley Street hypnotist Fiona Lamb also has some suggestions for how hypnosis can help you get your snooze on. “You can simulate the same eye movement you experience in sleep by rolling your eyes upwards and back,” she says. “If you do this three times you will automatically feel yourself going into a deeper relaxation.”
Hum your way to the land of nod
“Studies have shown that the vibrations of humming can relax you,” Fiona explains. “It can also act as a distraction from anything unwanted that pops into your mind. Be sure to choose a song that isn’t too fast or reminds you of anything emotional!”
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