6 ways to get the best sleep you’ve ever had
Do you struggle to snooze? We’ve nobbled the pros at Healthily for the latest scientific thinking on how to conquer insomnia. Cue, walnuts, pink noise - and orgasms.
Like the idea of leaping out of bed like a spring lamb instead of hitting the snooze button? We’ve got you. Whether it’s health issues, small people having nightmares, big people snoring, too much Netflix or just wired on stress, a third of us struggle to get the restful night we need (that’s 7-9 hours btw).
Getting the right advice to nail down the issue and how to solve it isn’t easy – with a GP appointment harder to nab than Glasto tickets, it’s a relief that there are other ways to get good advice – and no – do NOT Google it!
Instead, we’ve turned to the experts at Healthily to get some much needed guidance on the secret to a good night’s sleep. The idea behind the platform is that it’s your first port of call for non-urgent health niggles. The self-care app, website, and AI-Smart Symptom Checker gives you medically checked information and tips, so might save you a trip to your GP – or indeed prompt a visit if needed.
There’s tons of info on Healthily about sleep – what’s stopping you from getting your eight-hours snooze, and ways of improving the quality and length of rest. Lack of sleep can affect your health and has been linked with issues like obesity, depression, low immunity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, fertility and even certain types of cancer.
Is that enough to convince you to hit the sack? Great! Now read on to find out how to nail that dreamy eight hours, according to the girls and guys in white coats – then go win yourself a brand new Apple Watch Series 7 and Healthily subscription!
1/ LET IN THE LIGHT
Morning, sunshine! Some research shows that exposure to bright light first thing can help you get the zzzzs when night arrives. Whether that’s an early morning walk (Michael Moseley has been exploring this in his Just One Thing podcast), pulling the curtains back first thing as you have your first cuppa or taking a stroll at lunchtime – yes, researchers also found that getting some light in the middle of the day can help, too – it will help reset your body clock as well as knocking down your stress levels.
2/ PUT ON THE HEADPHONES
The heavy sound of silence is tough for those suffering from insomnia. Don’t be afraid to put on music in a bid to go to sleep – there’s evidence that it can release dopamine, the feel-good hormone that is also associated with exercise, as well lowering your heart rate and stress. Nineties rave anthems won’t cut it though (sorry!) – choose music with a 60-80bpm for the best chance of drifting off. If music sounds too distracting, a recent study has shown ‘pink noise’ (think white noise but slightly more interesting – rainfall rather than whirring appliances) can help. There’s literally a Pink Noise section on Apple if you’re inclined to try!
3/ KEEP YOUR EXTREMITIES WARM
This sounds an unlikely way to help sleep but hear us out. A science study has shown that those who warmed their feet for bed fell asleep faster than those with colder tootsies. So a bath before bed, which naturally moves heat to your extremities (as well as relaxing in itself) for at least 10 minutes may well help. When you get to bed, to stop your temperature dropping and blood flow leaving your feet, try warming bed socks, hot-water bottle or a wheat bag.
4/ PLAN TOMORROW
To-do lists are not for your head, lady! Sleep problems are habitually more common at the beginning of the week when we’re thinking about work and how to execute our plans. The simple solution to this, according to one study, is to simply commit to paper what you need to do for the day or the week ahead. By doing this you order your thoughts, feel more in control and hopefully drift off sooner.
5/ EAT FOR SLEEP
There’s been a lot of research in this area and it goes well beyond the ‘don’t drink coffee before bed’ mantra. One of the easiest things you can do to help yourself here is to make sure you eat at least three hours before bed (work out the maths – no eating dessert at 10pm!). Avoid foods that are high in tyramine (think cheese, cured meats, citrus fruits), and instead reach for ingredients like walnuts, high in both serotonin and melatonin. Check out this Healthily page for more ideas on what to eat, from turkey to white rice and kiwis.
6/ HAVE AN ORGASM
Now you’re talking. The hormone oxytocin is released during an orgasm, which lowers the stress hormone cortisol and raises levels of prolactin, the so-called ‘sleep hormone’ which promotes drowsiness and is also associated with REM, the dreamy kind of sleep. So that’s a big yes, yes, yes to sex before bed.
For more tips on how to improve your sleep, head to the Sleep section at Healthily – it’s an amazing resource, covering everything from nighttime routines and techniques for getting back to sleep in the middle of the night to how children sleep and natural sleep aids.