Once considered a natural part of life, sleep is now a hot commodity. The desire for the perfect night’s sleep has become a collective obsession, often resulting in sleep evading us altogether. Whether it’s self-imposed, a result of poor sleep hygiene, or spurred on by stress, insomnia or sleep deprivation can take a physical and emotional toll on your body and mind. The National Sleep Foundation recommends between seven to nine hours of sleep per night for a healthy adult; while this seems simple in theory, getting and staying asleep can be a struggle.
If deep, restorative sleep is eluding you, here’s how to fall (and stay) asleep better.
1. Try meditation
Meditation doesn’t necessarily entail sitting cross-legged for hours on end. Meditation comes in different forms and can aid in helping you fall asleep quicker, as well as reduce the likelihood of waking up during the night. Try a guided meditation from an app like Calm or Headspace, a yoga nidra session, or a short stretching session while focusing on your breathing prior to bedtime.
If meditation isn’t really your thing, try unwinding with a good book. Steer clear of the thrillers and opt for a classic novel or old favourite instead. Reading before bed allows your parasympathetic nervous system to kick into action, slowing down your heart rate and relaxing your muscles to prepare you for bed. Plus, it creates a routine which can be key to falling asleep easily.
3. Somniferous supper
What you eat can have a large impact on the quality of your sleep, with food affecting your circadian rhythm (i.e. the process that regulates your sleep cycle). Consuming foods rich in the amino acid tryptophan can aid in promoting better sleep, as tryptophan is able to be converted to melatonin, the sleep hormone. Try incorporating tryptophan rich foods like eggs, cheese, poultry, sesame seeds and tahini, pumpkin seeds, tofu, and dark chocolate into your diet.
4. Cut out caffeine
Don’t worry, you don’t have to ditch coffee altogether; just avoid consuming caffeine after 2pm. Whether it’s in the form of coffee, matcha, black tea, or soft drinks, caffeine stimulates the nervous system and disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm, making it more difficult to wind down before bed.
5. Exercise daily
Regular exercise has been proven to reduce insomnia, with cardio in particular aiding in lulling you into a slumber. Just ensure you don’t exercise too close to bedtime, as this can have the opposite effect and keep you up longer; try exercising at least four hours before bed, or stick to gentle exercises like a short walk or relaxing yoga session.
6. Consider adaptogens
Certain adaptogens like ashwagandha, rhodiola, medicinal mushrooms, and schisandra can aid in promoting a better night’s sleep. Ashwagandha in particular works to reduce stress and alleviate insomnia by regulating the body’s adrenal system. Try making moon milk or taking an adaptogenic supplement.
7. Try a nightcap
The simple act of sipping on warm tea before bed can be therapeutic. Increase your tea’s soporific properties by opting for a blend with herbs that promote sleep and stress relief, like chamomile, passionflower, lemon balm, valerian, and lavender. We particularly love WelleCo’s Sleep Welle and Golden Grind’s A Good Sleep tea blends.
Notorious Vogue editor-at-large André Leon Talley once said “the most luxurious item is a beautiful bed and beautiful, simple sheets,” and we have to say, we agree. Ensure your bed is conducive to a good night’s sleep by investing in a gorgeous set of linen, silk, or bamboo sheets, a high-quality mattress, and comfortable pillows. Keep your bedroom dark and cool by hanging blackout curtains and remove any distractions like electronic devices and televisions. Finally, remember that the only activities that should occur in your bed are sleeping and sex. Oh, and reading.
9. Bedtime body care routine
Our bodies respond well to a consistent routine, with an evening ritual aiding in de-stressing after a long day and promoting a restful night. Try taking a warm shower with Lush’s Sleepy Shower Gel before moisturising with the Lush Sleepy Body Lotion or Jurlique Lavender Body Oil; lavender essential oil contains linalool which has a sedative effect on the nervous system, quieting restless minds, relieving insomnia, and aiding in better quality sleep.