Count breaths, not sheep
If you often find yourself lying in bed wide-awake, you could try counting sheep. But you might do a lot better counting your breaths, say US experts, who suggest that a breathing trick – known as the 4-7-8 technique – could send you to sleep in less than a minute.
Start by exhaling completely through your mouth to make a ‘whoosh’ sound, then close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose for a mental count of four. Hold your breath for seven counts and then exhale again with a ‘whoosh’ for a count of eight. Inhale again and repeat this process three more times.
Go red, orange and green
Foods that are coloured red, orange and green are the best ones to choose for 40 winks. A recent study found the antioxidants in red and orange-coloured foods, such as carrots and tomatoes, all made for better sleep. Red cherry juice is also thought to be a sleep superfood.
As for your greens, having a kiwi fruit a day, perhaps with some yogurt or in a smoothie for breakfast, could help you get to sleep up to 30 per cent faster, so stock up on them!
Swap your midnight snack
If you like to eat before bed, go for a snack that contains whole-grain carbohydrates and some dairy. Toast or porridge with a glass of milk and honey is a great choice. It will prompt your body to start sending sleep hormones to your brain. Eating cheese could also help you sleep as it contains calming minerals, such as magnesium and calcium, which helps relax your muscles. We promise it doesn’t really give you nightmares either!
Make a sleep schedule
By keeping to the same bedtime, even on a weekend, you can train your body clock to get sleepy at the same time each night, making for a longer, fuller night’s rest.
Create a calming routine you can repeat every night, whether that’s taking a hot bath or having a warm glass of milk while you read. And make sure all electronic equipment, like mobile phones or tablets, are switched off at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
Keep your bedroom tidy
A tidy house doesn’t just make for a tidy mind, as the saying goes. It can also help you get a better night’s sleep, by making you feel calmer and more restful. Try to get into the habit of always folding away clothes, making the bed and putting things back in their rightful place each day, as well as getting rid of any unnecessary clutter.
Check your mattress is up to scratch by making sure it doesn’t have any uncomfortable dips or bulges – mattresses usually have a lifespan of about ten years.
If you’re thinking of redecorating, choose neutral or cool colours like blues or lavender to help you drift off and put up blinds or heavy curtains if the sun wakes you up early.
Join a choir
Snoring is a common cause of disturbed sleep, whether it’s you or your partner keeping everyone awake. But studies have found that joining a choir, or taking singing lessons, could help strengthen the weak throat muscles that can contribute to snoring.
If singing’s not your thing, try joining a walking group or a yoga class instead. Being overweight makes you more likely to snore so some exercise could help you lose weight and help you sleep more soundly.
Try a natural supplement
Lemon balm is great for helping you relax, making you feel drowsy before bed and more ready for a deep, refreshing sleep. New Nordic’s Melissa Dream contains carefully selected lemon balm leaves, along with Vitamin B, magnesium, L-theanine amino acid and chamomile extract.
These natural ingredients all help promote more restful sleep and keep you focused throughout the day, as well as taking care of your nervous system. Take two tablets about an hour before bedtime for the best results.
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