As the seasons change our body’s circadian rhythms can get confused, which often results in either sleeping too much, or too little, as the nights grow longer and the mornings get lighter. It’s also probably why a lot of people suffer from seasonal fatigue and feel worn down and out of sorts when we go from winter to spring.
Model of the moment Bella Hadid told Teen Vogue that if she’s having trouble getting to sleep, she uses music: “I recently started listening to meditation music which makes me have a deeper sleep, even if I just have four hours. I’m usually out by the fourth song.”
“Meditation is now gaining mainstream recognition through scientific research for its ability to reduce stress,” explains Shona Wilkinson, who is a nutritionist. “Those in stressful jobs or situations can benefit enormously from meditative practice. It can be done anywhere, such as on the bus or train into work and even 5 minutes can be helpful to clear your mind and feel refreshed.”
If you want to try out meditation music to help you get to sleep, there’s a huge selection of uploads available on YouTube.
We have come up with six other ways to help you get to sleep, if you’re having trouble at the moment.
There’s a technique that has its roots in yoga called the 4-7-8 breath. Converts swear that it helps them drift off in under one minute as it has a sedative effect on the nervous system.
Apparently, it’s also recommended for stress management, where you do it before reacting to anything, and it helps ease food cravings and anxiety. It’s actually really easy: breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold it for seven seconds, then breathe out for eight seconds. You can also make up your own mantra, like, “in with relaxing sleep, out with stress and anxiety” as you breathe in and out.
This is a tip that works brilliantly and one which we have heard that top sleep doctors often use. Drinking cherry juice before you head to bed helps you drift off to sleep because cherries contain an ingredient that helps your body to relax. Shona Wilkinson suggests, “Try a cherry concentrate after your evening meal.” Or, you could try fresh cherries with the stones taken out and whizzed into a smoothie. (Half a cup should do the trick).
Magnesium is known as, ‘nature’s tranquilliser’. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory so helps to relax our muscles, and if you’re particularly stressed, stress burns through our body’s stores of magnesium so keeping your levels topped up is essential.
“Many of us live hectic, stressful lives, and are more exposed to environmental and food toxins, which can make us more prone to a magnesium deficiency,” Cassandra Barns, who is a nutritionist, says. “Try to include dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, whole grains and bananas in your diet, which are all rich in magnesium.”
We’ve taken a detailed look at aromatherapy before, but adding a few drops of the right oil to your pillow can work wonders for calming your body down so you drift off.
“Try using aromatherapy oils such as bergamot, lavender, roman chamomile and marjoram in a warm bath, just before bed. A few drops of lavender oil on your pillow at bedtime can also help,” advises Dr Marilyn Glenville, one of the UK’s leading nutritionists and the author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar.
This sounds crazy, but genuinely works, and there’s solid science backing up the theory. Splashing your face with cold water before you go to bed can help you go to sleep because it can trigger a natural reflex in your body called the Mammalian Diving Reflex that resets your nervous system and lowers your heart and blood pressure. Worth a try!
You can’t beat snuggling up in a lovely warm bed, but scientists believe that a colder room helps you to sleep better than a hot one, with the recommended temperature being between 15 and 20 degrees.
At this time of year, simply opening the window a couple of inches and letting in lots of lovely fresh air as you sleep will help you to awake feeling energised due to a steady supply of oxygen during the night.
Still having trouble sleeping? Try our prescription for a good night’s sleep – don’t forget, though, these articles are no substitute for professional medical advice. If you are suffering with insomnia, it’s important to consult a doctor or health professional.