Maybe it’s the all the excitement of Halloween.Maybe it’s the clocks going back. Maybe it’s my insistence to wear fleecy pjs to bed even though the winter chill hasn’t quite hit. Whatever it is, my sleeping pattern is off the rails.
There’s nothing worse than a weekend spent recharging the batteries, resting up for the week ahead only to reach Sunday night and spend it tossing and turning, returning to work on Monday morning in need of another break already.
Apparently I’m not the only one struggling to sleep right now. Last week Channel 5 aired How To Get a Good Night’s Sleep hosted by Eamonn Holmes and wife, Ruth Langsford. While suffering a more dramatic time than I am with my sleep – the pair both have sleeping disorders – Holmes rarely gets more than five hours sleep per night while Langsford has an issue with snoring (whether the two issues are connected is for another episode.) The episode the episode sees the pair trying out extortionately priced mattresses as recommended to them by bed guru, Brent Cooper. They start with cheaper of options available, testing a £28,000 mattress before moving on to the big guns, a £42,000 bed with hydraulics to shift into just the right position. For most of us, forking out this kind of price isn’t an option when trying to solve our sleeping issues. Ironically, the show was reviewed to be very dull – perhaps producers were hoping to lull us to sleep.
So what do the experts suggest we do?
The Style Edit contributor, Dr Doireann O’Leary wrote about the topic of sleep hygiene (taking practical steps to help you sleep well) on her blog. In her post she acknowledges the importance of sleep environment, both for people with similar lifestyles to her (doctors, nurses and those working night shifts) and for those attempting normal sleeping patterns.
“Blackout blinds are wonderful (too). You won’t sleep when it’s bright outside. Your body will see daylight and tell you to stay awake. You need darkness to stimulate your sleep hormone and help you nod off. I also use a blackout eye mask. I’d be lost without it. Picked mine up in Boots.”
Arianna Huffington felt so strongly about the issue that she wrote an entire book on the topic – The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time. Originally published in 2016, Huffington takes on the sleeping pill industry and how the world of technology disrupts our sleep. She also explored all the latest science on what exactly is going on while we sleep and dream. In an interview with Get the Gloss, the co-founded and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post explains the steps and evening habits that guarantee a good night’s sleep.
“It’s important to have a routine, since it helps tell your mind and body that it’s time to begin to wind down and put away the cares of the day. Your room should be dark, quiet and cool. One of my favourite tips is to banish your phone from your room at night. Our phones are repositories of everything we need to put away to allow us to sleep – our to-do lists, our inboxes, the demands of the world. So putting your phone to bed outside your bedroom as a regular part of your bedtime ritual makes you more likely to wake up as fully charged as your phone.”
Huffington goes on to explain the ways in which she makes her lifestyle conducive to good sleep.
“I like to both start and end my day without my phone. So when I wake up, instead of looking at my phone I take a minute to breathe deeply, be grateful, and set my intention for the day. Then I do 20 to 30 minutes of meditation and 30 minutes on my stationary bike, on days when I’m at home. At night, I promise that you can still have a social life and get great sleep. The trick? Have a transition to sleep, which for me includes a hot bath that washes the day away.”
Following on from Dr Doireann O’Leary’s tips regarding sleeping environment, other tips involve adjusting the temperature within your sleeping environment. James Smith of Sleep Deep has spent the last two years immersing himself in the world of sleep while working with the world’s top scientists to develop his line of sleep-promoting pyjamas. His one easy trick for a better night’s sleep involves opening your window. Depending on where you live that may not be possible in which case he recommends turning off your heating at night, opening the window for an hour before bed, moving your furniture to avoid sleeping next to a radiator and while staying in a hotel, turning the room temperature right down to 17 degrees celsius.
If you’ve already exhausted the stereotypical sleep hacks, you could also try introducing yoga stretches and poses into your bedtime routine. The relaxing flow of yoga is a natural solution to all of your tossing and turning and helps to unwind the mind and body before bed. Popular poses include Child’s post – a natural, calming position for the nervous system. Another option is resting your legs up against the wall, a pose associated with being the ultimate stress reliever and is thought to reverse ageing by switching up the gravity of your legs. More sleep and anti-ageing – win, win.