We’re delighted to introduce our very own sleep expert, Dr Simon Durrant, founder of the Sleep and Cognition Laboratory at the University of Lincoln.
Whether it involves creating a tranquil bedroom environment, filling the room with calming scents or cutting down ‘screen’ time before bed, Dr Durrant and his team have undertaken extensive research into the world of sleep, proving there is more to getting a good night’s sleep than just getting your head down.
Let us lead you on the path towards a better night's sleep with advice from our resident sleep expert, Dr Simon Durrant aka 'Dr Sleep'...
“Just one caffeinated drink, whether it’s your post-work Americano or a bottle of Coke, after 4pm can knock an hour or more off the amount of sleep you will be able to get. Opt for caffeine free alternatives, such as herbal tea or non-caffeinated beverages, for your evening beverage.”
“Studies have shown that the scent of this pretty purple flower has excellent sedative effects and helps to promote better sleep. There are many ways to reap the benefits in your room, you can buy a plant, use a diffuser or sprinkle a few drops on your pillow.”
"With Spring here, and Summer fast approaching, many of us will experience an increase in allergic symptoms. Allergies are one of the most common causes of sleep disturbances and anti allergy bedding helps protect you from these."
“Getting a dose of natural light as soon as you wake up is the best way for you to set your body clock. As soon as you wake up, open up the shutters and promote a feeling of wakefulness which will aid your body to feel sleepy later on in the day.”
“Gentle exercise helps relieve stress. Yoga can be a great way to unwind and lose the tension you may be holding in your body. There are loads of easy stretches which can help you to relax. Why not try this routine: http://bit.ly/1Trh7HA”
"Have a relaxing bath, grab a mug of chamomile tea and light some soothing scented candles. Once it becomes a routine, it will trigger your mind to realise that you are getting ready to go to sleep."
"Thinking too much keeps your brain, and you, awake. Try a different train of thought. Instead of worrying about what will happen, think about how you’ve coped with the stress so far and focus on a more positive train of thought."
“If you have been lying awake for 20 minutes, don’t just lie there and worry, get up and do some quiet reading or meditation until you begin to feel tired. Just remember to avoid bright lights and resist the temptation to make a cup of tea.”
“Steer clear of self-help books and anything to do with work. Stick to fiction and prepare yourself for some vivid dreams as you drift off.”
"The main one is that your body uses up amino acids which it needs to help you fall asleep. Drinking around 2 litres of water a day will go a long way to balancing out your hydration levels. But don’t drink too much before bedtime, or you will definitely have your sleep disturbed.”
“Plants help to maintain good air quality and the scent of certain flowers such as jasmine and lavender is known to have a positive effect on the quality of sleep.”
“If you find your anxieties running around your head at night, keeping you awake, one solution is to simply write them down. This helps to provide you with a little more focus on the actual problems while getting that worry off your mind.”
“This is because it makes you get out of bed earlier, gets you motivated for the day and uses up some of your energy so that you wind down quickly in the evening.”
"As you get ready to go to sleep, your body begins to cool down to its optimal sleep temperature. You can help to kick off the process by setting the temperature in your room to between 15-18?, or by turning off your heating about an hour before bedtime; which is plenty of time for your room to reach this temperature."
Your body temperature cools during late evening and this signals that it’s time for sleep, but your hands and feet need to remain warm. Studies have shown that cold hands and feet can lead to sleep problems, so if necessary, get that hot water bottle out in the winter.
There are a number of different breathing techniques which work to increase oxygen flow in your body and help you to relax. Many people swear by Dr. Weil’s 4-7-8 technique:
- Rest your tongue behind your upper teeth
- Breath out, making a whooshing sound
- Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds
- Hold your breath for 7 seconds
- Breathe out through your mouth for 8 seconds
- Repeat until you gently fall asleep
You get a lot of the nutrients you need from what you eat, but sometimes you can be a little out of balance. Magnesium, which is found in seeds, nuts, avocado, bananas and more, has been shown to have a muscle-relaxing effect.
Nightly noises can create unbearable disturbances for some sleepers. Soundproof your bedroom with thicker curtains or simply invest in a pair of ear plugs, which can help with partners who snore too.
Constantly looking at the time while you’re trying to get to sleep is an exercise in futility. As the time passes, you will become more and more agitated as you think of the sleep you’re not getting. Turn the clock to face the wall and let time pass.
When you’ve had a late night or not slept very well, it can be tortuous to get up early. But if you wake up at wildly different times, especially at the weekend, it can throw your circadian rhythm into disarray. Your circadian rhythm plays a pivotal role in your sleep and you really need to stick to a sleep time and wake time.
Using the wrong pillow can cause a whole manner of sleep related issues. Choosing the right pillow which provides the necessary support for your head can help you get a night of great quality sleep!
Instead of grabbing a cup of coffee in the evening, if you’re looking for a warm drink to help you relax, there are lots of different herbal teas which can help you nod off. Chamomile with honey, valerian root, hops and passionflower have all been shown to be extremely relaxing.