Lack of sleep is commonly known to make one more prone to feeling grumpy, short-tempered and to put it simply, downright sh*tty. But did you know that sleep deprivation can also have profound consequences on your mental and physical well-being? Insomnia can put you at risk of some serious health issues, including diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Pretty scary, huh?
So, let’s cut to the chase and find out how you can end your string of sleepless nights - no pills involved!
We’ve all heard that warm milk helps you fall asleep quicker. While there have been a few studies that prove that milk does help to modulate sleep a little, the more likely reason why warm milk is effective in achieving a good night’s sleep is due to the fact that it raises your internal body temperature which will make you feel sleepy and calm. Warm milk psychologically makes us feel drowsy and relaxed, perhaps taking us back to our days of infancy, hence, the term ‘sleep like a baby’. Adding just a tiny bit of honey to your warm milk helps to lower your body’s level of orexin (a neurotransmitter that raises your level of alertness).
*Drink half an hour before bedtime
Research has shown that the scent of lavender helps to ease anxiety and insomnia. Lavender is known to increase slow-wave sleep, which is a very deep slumber where one’s heart beat slows and muscles relax. What you can do is use an aroma therapy diffuser in your bedroom, alternatively, place a few drops of lavender essential oil on a cotton pad and tuck it into your pillowcase.
Before you get cosy under the covers, do some gentle stretching in bed. Follow this easy video right before bedtime. I personally swear by this. Every time I face anxiety and have difficulty falling asleep, I follow this routine and it really helps.
The 4-7-8 breathing exercise, also known as “The Relaxing Breath” promotes better sleep by regulating your breathing. This has been described as ‘a natural tranquilliser for the nervous system’ that eases one’s body into a state of relaxation. Simply turn your lights off and get comfy in bed. Once you’re in a comfortable position (with no distractions, which means your cell phone should be on airplane mode so that you don’t get any buzzing notifications), breath in through your nose to a count of 4. Then, hold your breath for 7 seconds before exhaling completely through your mouth to the count of 8. Repeat this cycle continuously until you start feeling drowsy. The important thing here is that you focus on the counts, don’t let your mind wander!
You can watch how to do the 4-7-8 breathing exercise here.
Music is a proven, non-addictive and cost-effective tool that can be used to beat insomnia. The right type of music can improve your quality and duration of sleep, as well as reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. The most effective types of music are those that mimic the sound of rain or the ocean. We recommend playing the music as softly as possible from a device (such as your laptop or stereo) near your bed as opposed to using earphones. Even though I don’t suffer from insomnia, there are nights when I find it impossible to fall asleep due to anxiety or stress. That’s when I’ll do some light stretching - as mentioned above - in bed before playing this or this to help me relax and fall asleep quicker.