Getting a good night’s sleep can have knock on effects for the whole rest of our day, and for many of us this is the number one deciding factor in whether we have a great day that goes well or a bum day that sees everything going wrong. Lack of sleep can lead us to be more forgetful, more moody, more disorganized and more prone to illness and all of this can cause damage in our personal and professional lives.
For many of us this isn’t a problem – we lie down and hit the sheets and within moments we’re in dreamland. For people who find falling asleep easy, the only challenge is in learning to manage our time so that we have the opportunity to drift off.
However if you aren’t one of the lucky then you might find it’s a very different story as you toss and turn late into the night and watch the minutes tick by. In such a case you might turn to outside help from sleeping aids and medications. It’s wise to be weary of some of the stronger sleeping medications which can end up leaving you dependent on them for a good night’s sleep, and which can in some cases result in worrying side effects.
So what are your other options? Here we will look at some drug-free products that can help you to sleep better, quicker and for longer.
Warm milk can help us to produce melatonin which is the ‘sleep hormone’ that regulate our sleeping/waking cycle. By drinking a glass of warm milk in the evening before bed you can get your body to shift into the right state for sleeping and this will help you to drift off more quickly and easily. At the same time the warmth can be very relaxing and can help ease your muscles to further aid sleeping.
Eye Mask/Ear Plugs
Sometimes the old ones are the best. These aren’t exactly revolutionary, but they can do a very good job of helping you to create a conducive environment for sleep which will help you to sleep more deeply. If you’ve not had any luck with eyemasks or ear plugs in the past, then this is perhaps because you haven’t found the right set. Look for eyemasks that are comfortable and that won’t get in the way if you roll over etc.
CPAP stands for ‘continuous positive airway pressure’ and these are very specific devices which address a very specific kind of sleeping problem – that being sleep apnea. If you find yourself waking up feeling groggy and tired then there’s a chance you might be waking up in the night due to apnea. Here you are briefly stopping breathing because our windpipe has closed over, and you need to address this in order to sleep normally. Look into CPAP devices which blow air down your airways in order to force them open and help prevent it from closing over. Consult a doctor if you suspect you have sleep apnea.
Incense and other relaxing smells like lavender can help to relax you and to let you drift off to sleep. Some also cause positive hormonal changes that further result in the release of melatonin. Look for some ‘smellies’ that you can put around your room, or failing that try using scented products to wash your bedclothes with.
Sometimes sleep problems are caused not only by your surroundings, but also by your lifestyle and habits. In particular it is important for you to have a regular sleeping pattern that your body can use in order to regulate itself. If you area to go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day, then you will find that your body starts to ‘prepare’ itself for bed when it approaches the right time. A daylight lamp set on a timer to wake you up with a ‘natural’ seeming light, can help your body to do this and to know when it’s day and when it’s night. These are particularly useful for combating jet lag, or for using when working night shifts.
Relaxation CDs are great for masking out background music, but at the same time they can also be useful for giving you something soothing and relaxing to focus on. Put on some quiet classical music and try to focus on the sounds of the violins and other instruments. This can help prevent your thoughts from racing which in turn can help you to fall asleep more soundly.