I have noticed quite a few people on twitter lately talking about having problems sleeping. And I can totally relate, because in the last few months I've had some real issues of my own when it comes to nodding off. No matter what the reason, It is so important to try and rectify a bad sleeping pattern as ultimately lack of sleep can be hugely dangerous to your physical and mental health.
And with that, (and after trying every trick in the proverbial book) I want to share some of the tips, tricks, products and apps that have helped me a) get to sleep in the first place and b) stay sleeping all the way through the night.
First up; Tips and tricks
Now please bear with me as some of these may seem extremely obviously to you, or you have already tried them but these are worth giving a go if you can't sleep.
- no caffeine after 7pm
- warm drink (but not boiling - as explained by the good old doctor to me if something is too hot it can actually wake you up!) I also realise this can be difficult without caffeine, however try hot milk or (my preferred choice) diluting juice with hot water (just before the kettle's boiled)
- warm bath (like above - not too hot! It has the same effect!)
- no electronics/distractions in the room. reading or watching TV in bed can confuse your body into thinking bed isn't for sleeping. If you only sleep in your bed, your body will soon recognise it's time for bed when you climb in!
- if you've spent ages tossing and turning, get up! Do something else OUT of your bed (see 4). Nothing that you might get sucked into, read a boring book etc.
- don't have your bedroom too warm! For me this isn't really a problem, I like to be cold when sleeping, but most people aren't aware that turning the heating up could actually be what is preventing them from sleeping!
- Keep to a routine! Your body loves routine. So even though you don't want to, on days you don't have to, still get up at the time you will need to on the days you do have to. Eventually, your body will realise what you're upto and start doing it all by itself. Also, it will help you get to sleep at night!
Now for some products!
We all know that sometimes just the tip and tricks don't work. So here's some tried and tested products that have helped me over to the land of nod.
3. Lavender scented microwaveable eleflump! £6.89 (no longer available alternative here)
Now some of these products may seem expensive so let me just give you some incentive, the Boots spray I bought about 3 to 4 months ago, been used every night and still has about half left (and that's using more than double recommended), The this works duo comes with a hidden gem in the "Stress Less" roller ball (pictured in the middle) which is just a god send. This can be used at any time of day to chill you out and for me it totally works (and I've tried many of these, including the famed Bach's rescue remedy) My microwaveable teddy was actually a dalmation from La Senza who is just super cute. I got him for Christmas and scoffed at my mum for buying me it (I'm not a big teddy loving girly girl) however this awesome little guy has really helped me sleep. not only does he smell great but he's nice and warm but not too warm like a hot water bottle! Also he's much nicer to hug than a hot water bottle! The bath bomb is one of my favourites from Lush and really does help. Although this would probably only be useful for people who maybe can't sleep before a big day, as it's way too expensive to use every night!
Last but not least; some amazing apps!
After lots and lots of sleepless, short or restless nights I decided to check out a couple of apps that were on offer in the Apple app store. (desperate times call for desperate measures!) I'm pretty sure that even if you don't have an Iphone you will be able to find a product either on you Blackberry or Android that does the same. Or even something in the shops!
White Noise app
I found out about this originally from Facebook as I have many parents on my page who swear by this for getting their newborn babies to sleep. Fortunately it offers many more options than the original white noise, my favourite being the thunderstorm sound. you can programme this to play all night and stop just before your alarm sounds! This doesn't work all the time for me but it's well worth a try as it has worked when I have been most desperate.
Sleep Cycle app
This is a really cool gadget that monitors your movements while you sleep and tries to wake you up when you are in a light sleep as apposed to a deep sleep. It claims to help you be less reluctant to get out of bed and less tired throughout the day. I have to confess I was very skeptical of this and am not fully convinced by this app. Although I am aware that the scientifics facts behind this are true, I'm quite reluctant to believe a small piece of technology such as my phone can actually act on it (sorry Iphone as much as I love you) but I still use it in a vain hope, and to help me wake to routine (like I was talking about in my hints and tips) on nights where I know I won't get enough sleep or I've tossed and turned alot.
So there you have it, Obviously this isn't every bit of advice in the book or every product but it starts the brain ticking over about what might be useful and I really hope even just one person is able to take something away from this and put it in to practise as I know how horrible it can be with constant sleepless nights!
***first published 04/02/2012, link and prices correct at time of republish 25/07/2016***