Battling summer sleep troubles

Here are some top tips on how to enjoy a good night’s rest based on a recent survey by Healthspan UK

The modern 24/7 culture we live provides the perfect environment to hijack our sleep. According to a recent survey carried out by Healthspan UK, people are simply not getting enough sleep, and many are doing nothing to help themselves get to sleep. Good sleep hygiene practices are important such as how you prepare your bedroom environment and what you do before you go to bed. Diet also plays a role, and, in some cases, natural sleep aids may be beneficial for people who find it hard to nod-off.

There are many products on the market designed to help with sleep and these include sleep apps, supplements and foods. It’s a matter of trying new things and finding what works for you.

Keeping hydrated

This can be a big problem as many of us are not in the habit of drinking water naturally.
Not only will dehydration sap you of energy during the day, but it can also affect your body temperature. This is because you need to drink plenty of fluids to support your sweating mechanism, your body’s primary way of cooling down when it’s too hot! So ensure you drink enough water.

Although drinking too much water immediately before going to bed isn’t always a good idea, keeping properly hydrated throughout the course of the day and early evening will help set you up for a better night’s sleep. Aim for at least 1.5l or up to 2l if it’s very hot or if you’ve had an active day.

Coconut water is another good option when it’s particularly hot; the electrolyte content helps keep us hydrated and means it is considered a ‘cooling drink.’ Other cooling foods with high water content include watermelon, celery and cucumber.

Getting a little fruity

Tart cherry juice could have some benefits for supporting sounder sleep as a result of its natural melatonin content. Research has suggested this ingredient may have positive effects on both the total time spent asleep, plus the quality of sleep when we are getting some shut eye.1

Interestingly, another fruit option that could help support sleep is kiwis. Kiwis are thought to help support serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter responsible for supporting our mood and the production of melatonin. Therefore, this fruity ingredient has also been shown in studies to help support sleep when eaten regularly, an hour before bed.2

Finally, bananas are often a popular evening snack, and for good reason. Bananas are a good source of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid which gets converted into serotonin and melatonin in the brain, both of which support important sleep processes. Bananas are also rich in both magnesium and potassium which can help to promote muscle relaxation before settling down for the night.

Herbal helpers

In terms of herbs to help keep you feeling cool, Sage is a useful option if you are struggling with excessive sweating, for example, menopausal night sweats, which could be disrupting your sleep.

Some supplements and remedies are blended to help aid with sleep whilst others contain single nutrients which have been shown to play a useful role. Tinctures such as those made with valerian and hops (try A Vogel Dormeasan – £10.50 for 50ml) to help support sleep and use Dormeasan Valerian-Hops both 30 minutes before retiring to bed and also once upon waking, during the night, if need be. This combination of herbs helps make us more relaxed and allows for a deeper sleep.

Supplements such as 5- HTP, which is an amino acid that is converted into melatonin in the brain (try Healthspan 5-HTP – £16.95 for 60 tablets) are used to help aid sleep. Magnesium in tablet form or in bath salts has also been shown to help with muscle relaxation and low levels are associated with anxiety and insomnia.

A cup of tea

Herbal teas designed to promote sleep contain herbs that have been traditionally used over time for this purpose. Some of them are seriously pongy such as valerian whilst others include chamomile, lemon balm, passion flower and lavender. It’s not just the effect of the herbs used in the tea but the calming effect of sipping something warm and soothing before bed so make sure the environment you drink them in is also relaxing and quiet.

Sleep apps and audio books

These are a great way to help distract a busy mind. Some apps are designed to guide you through simple meditation techniques such as breathing exercises, whilst others provide comforting sounds like the crashing of waves or falling rain. Audio books also provide a useful distraction helping to relax the mind and lull you to sleep. If you are going to use these apps in bed, then it is a good idea to invest in a comfy pair of earphones.