Sleep Well: 5 Surprising Ways To Improve Sleep
How to sleep better and how to improve sleep are two questions that most people have pondered at some point – normally in the very early hours of the morning. While we all know the basics of sleep hygiene - limit caffeine consumption, wind down before you retire, and get to bed at a reasonable hour – sometimes these tactics alone just aren’t enough to help sleep.
If you’ve tried everything you know and you’re still struggling to drift off, there are some other, slightly more unusual ways that may help improve the quality and duration of your sleep. We’ve picked out our five favourites for you to try.
1. Scent yourself to sleep
There’s evidence to suggest that certain fragrances, particularly ones associated with a positive mood and calmness, can assist with relaxation and may contribute to better sleep, although this is an area of continuing research. Lavender scent has long been associated with the ability to promote sleep and improve deep sleep, so try spritzing it on your pillow before you hit the hay. Chamomile scent is also known for its ability to increase longer sleep.
2. Talk out loud
If you’re prone to muttering out loud and getting funny looks in public, then this is a tip for you. Talking out loud can be a good way of emptying your brain and clearing your mind of intrusive thoughts. When you’re in bed, speak out loud about things that are troubling you to help work through your feelings and reflections. This can help you ‘put aside’ negativity and concerns, so you’re in a good head space to drift off to sleep.
3. Practice gratitude
While you may be well acquainted with the benefits of practising gratitude, you may not be aware that it can improve both sleep quality and duration. The idea is that practising gratitude fills your mind with positive thoughts, which may help to soothe the nervous system. Keep a gratitude journal by your bed and write down three things you are grateful for each night, to put your brain into a positive, sleep-welcoming state of mind.
4. Create a sleep ritual – and stick to it
How many times have you promised yourself you’ll go to bed earlier tomorrow night? It’s all very well proclaiming you’ll practice better sleep hygiene in the future, but the secret to feeling the benefit is to actually do it. Set an alarm to notify you that it’s time to start getting ready for bed and put together a series of actions to help your brain recognise that sleep is imminent (remember the ‘bath, bed, story’ routine from your childhood?). Create an indulgent beauty ritual to help make you feel nice and relaxed. For instance, layer Swisse Skincare Bio-Retinol 0.5% Vitamin B3 10% Renewing Booster Serum with Swisse Bio-Retinol Renewing Night Cream to nourish and hydrate your skin before bed.
5. Bring back the nana nap
There’s evidence to suggest that getting a solid eight hours is a relatively modern invention and that until the 17th century people slept in two shifts – a ‘first sleep’ and ‘second sleep’. This notion is backed up by a research experiment which revealed that people instinctively gravitated towards a two-phase sleep pattern when placed in an environment without standard sleep indicators, suggesting that it’s a natural process for the body. While today’s society can make napping tricky to manage, consider incorporating one into your schedule. If you need any more encouragement, there is growing evidence that naps can have important effects on memory and learning, as well as increasing alertness and improving mood.
What teas help you sleep?
Passionflower, lemon balm , valerian, and chamomile[13,14] have all been shown to support sleep when consumed in a tea format. The soothing, sensorial experience of a relaxing cup of tea before bed mean teas can be a great way to help get you ready for a good night’s sleep.
What foods help you sleep?
There are a number of foods that have been shown to support sleep or have been linked to improved sleep, including fatty fish, rice, walnuts (rich in melatonin), and kiwi fruits. Avoid foods that are spicy, acidic or high in fat, and avoid eating right before bed as this can impact sleep quality – it’s recommended to consume a meal two – four hours before bed.
How to get more deep sleep
The key to getting more deep sleep is following a set sleep routine that works for you: go to bed at a similar time each night; relax before bed and manage your stress levels; avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed and ensure your bedroom is quiet and comfortable.
Sleep is generally divided into four stages, which the body cycles through four to six times each night. Stage three is the deepest sleep, and mostly occurs in the earlier part of the night.
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- Is eating before bed bad? Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/nutrition/is-it-bad-to-eat-before-bed#references-186868 Updated 24 March 2023
- How to get more deep sleep. Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/stages-of-sleep/how-to-get-more-deep-sleep Updated 15 May 2023