Health

A to Z of tips for getting to sleep in the summer to stop those restless nights


And relax…

CBD has made a huge buzz in the wellbeing world, promising to do everything from ease pain to banish anxiety. However, the cannabis derivative can also aid a good night’s sleep.

“Research shows CBD interacts with receptors in the brain that govern the body’s daily sleep/wake cycle,” says Kloris founder Kim Smith. Try massaging Kloris Uplifting CBD Body Oil, £35 (kloris cbd.com) into the soles of your feet before bed.

Big chill

We all love summer sunshine, but rising temperatures can make sleep difficult. While you may be tempted to throw open your windows, Chris Michael, from air purifier specialist Meaco, says it can make things worse.

“Only open the window when the outside air temperature is cooler than the room temperature. And keep windows and curtains closed throughout the day to stop the sun warming up the room.”

To cool your room before sleeping, try a portable air conditioner such as MeacoCool MC Series 7000, £279.99 ( meaco.com ).

Cherry aid

Cherries help to produce the mood-enhancing hormone serotonin

Latest research from Love Fresh Cherries reveals that the tasty fruit can help you drift off.

Nutritionist Anita Bean says: “Cherries help the brain to produce the mood-enhancing hormone serotonin. They are also a rich food source of melatonin, which promotes healthy sleep patterns.”

Ditch the booze

For better slumber, it’s time to bin the booze. Holland & Barrett’s nutritionist Emily Rollason says, “Alcohol may increase deep sleep in the first half of a sleep cycle, but it disrupts your sleep pattern throughout the night and inhibits rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the stage of sleep linked to a more restful night.”

Exercise early

“Early morning and afternoon exercise help reset the sleep-wake cycle by raising body temperature slightly, then allowing it to drop and trigger sleepiness a few hours later,” says Tobin James, MD at Tempur UK.

Early morning exercise can help to reset the body’s sleep-wake cycle

Food to avoid

It’s an old wives’ tale that eating cheese before bed gives you nightmares, but it can stop you dropping off, warns Benenden Health’s Cheryl Lythgoe.

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“Cheese contains high levels of the amino acid tyramine. This causes the body to release the ‘fight or flight’ hormone, which increases alertness for a number of hours,” she says. Stay away from chocolate (caffeine) and ice cream (sugar) before bed too, she adds.

Gut instinct

There is growing evidence of a link between the friendly bacteria in our gut and our brain. Looking after gut health could help the body produce more sleep-promoting hormones such as serotonin, which is turned into melatonin.

A recent trial suggested probiotics may help to regulate melatonin production and reduce stress levels, both of which could aid restful sleep. Try Bio-Kult Migrea, £19.94 ( bio-kult.com ).

Helpful apps

Restless kids? Try the Moshi Twilight app.

The nifty programme uses sleepy trigger words combined with soothing sounds and heartbeat-style meditations to ease children into a deep slumber. And it’s audio only, meaning there’s no need for screens in the bedroom. Free to download at makebedtimeadream.com

In the mix

Move over sleep stories. Meditation app Calm (calm.com) has teamed up with DJ Kygo to create a soothing mix of relaxing music that is designed to banish stress. The new music features 60 minutes of calming melodies, designed to help listeners unwind before bed.

Jettison (social) jetlag

Waking up at the same time every day is one of the most important ways to ensure effective and healthy sleep. “This reduces a phenomenon known as social jetlag which can lead to poor sleep,” says psychiatrist Dr Iain Jordan.

Getting up at the same each morning is one of the best ways to ensure rest

Try the Wakey app. Set your alarm and you’ll be woken up with a nine-minute breakfast show designed to get you up and encourage a brighter start to the day.

Keep food light

When eating before bed, think light, says Erin Berman, wellness expert for Nectar Sleep.

“If you’re feeling peckish opt for a handful of nuts and seeds (walnuts, cashews or sunflower seeds), a glass of milk, a banana or an apple, which all contain the sleep hormone melatonin.”

Lose weight while you sleep

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Need an incentive to get to bed? A study from Silentnight and the University of Leeds has found a direct correlation between poor sleep and higher BMI, suggesting that sleep could be key to slimming down.

Dr Nerina Ramlakhan says: “Not getting enough sleep means we run on adrenaline, which makes us conserve energy and store fat around the middle.”

Moisturising pillow

Snap up the latest bedtime beauty booster, the Nanu Yu Nu moisturising pillowcase, £35 for two (nanusleep.co.uk).

With organic probiotics infused into the cotton, it hydrates skin and prevents lines and wrinkles forming as you snooze.

Nighttime breathing

“As we prepare for sleep, it’s important to breathe deeply as it activates the area in the brain which is responsible for rest, relaxation and recovery,” says hypnotherapist Nick Davies (ndhypnotherapy.com).

“As you breathe in, push your stomach out to breathe all the way down to the bottom of your lungs, then hold the breath before breathing out a loud sigh. Repeat this cycle 10 times.”

Get into the sleep mode with some gentle breathing exercises when you get into bed

Only decaf

After lunchtime, that is, advises consultant dermatologist, Dr Justine Kluk.

“It can take eight hours for the effects to wear off, so a cup of coffee in the afternoon may prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.”

Power nap

A power nap can give you a much- needed boost, says Elite Sport sleep coach and Pro Plus ambassador Nick Littlehales.

“The key nap duration is 20 to 30 minutes. No longer, or you’ll feel woozy. Remember to set an alarm,” he says.

A 20 to 30 minute nap is the perfect pick-me-up

Quality not quantity

Forget the eight-hour myth, says Kathryn Pinkham, founder of The Insomnia Clinic.

“People who live the longest actually sleep seven hours per night, not eight.

“But either way, worrying about how much sleep you have had will cause anxiety and make sleep even harder to get. Focus on quality not quantity.”

Right way to lie

According to bed products supplier Kally Sleep, more than 60% of us sleep on our side or in the foetal position. And the other 40% should take note.

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“This is an ideal choice from a health perspective, as nothing is weighed down on your back, eliminating those morning strains,” says Dr Rick Hussein.

Sleeping on your side can eliminate strains in the morning

Stock up on snake plants

Snake plants, of which there about 70 species, are ideal for bedrooms.

“Unlike most plants that give out carbon dioxide through the night, snake plants continue to produce oxygen,” says Lisa Needham, founder of Root Houseplants.

Take a sniff

Surrounding yourself with the right fragrance can help your body switch between being alert and relaxed, says psychologist Suzy Reading. Citrus or pine is ideal for keeping focused during the day, while lavender or rose have sleep-inducing qualities.

Spritz your pillow with rose and chamomile-infused Bramley Sleep Spray, £16 ( bramleyproducts.co.uk ).

Understand colour

Colour therapy has been found to improve concentration, vitality and even sleep quality. “Colour therapy is a simple way to improve your wellbeing,” says Aqua Sana group spa manager Kay Pennington. “Purple hues will soothe you, while blue has a calming effect.”

Very irritating

Leaving the window open at night can bring pollen and pollution into your home that irritate your eyes and throat, leading to a bad night’s sleep.

“Washing sheets frequently, covering the bed with a sheet during the day and turning pillows just before you get in can all help reduce symptoms,” says Max Wiseberg of Haymax pollen barriers.

Weight and see

Weighted blankets, filled with tiny glass beads to make them heavy, are designed to relax the body and mind before sleep. The gentle all-over pressure from the beads calms the nervous system. Try Silent night Weighted Blanket, £59.99 (amazon.co.uk).

X-rated

Swap screen time for sex to help you sleep, says relationship expert Vena Ramphal. “Far too many people stare at their screens before they fall asleep. Having sex is a much healthier thing to do,” she says.

“Pleasurable sensations are much better for the brain to process than data from your social media feed.”

Yes to early mornings

“Even if you have a poor night’s sleep, get up nice and early and get some fresh air,” says Kathryn Pinkham.

“This will help you to build an ‘appetite’ for sleep, helping you get a better night’s rest the next evening.”

Zen sleep space

Keep your bedroom tidy, advises Holly Housby, sleep expert at Sealy UK.

“Studies have shown that those who have a messy and cluttered bedroom have a worse night’s sleep due to increased stress levels, compared to those who keep their room tidy.”





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