We all know the importance of a good night’s sleep, but every March we’re reminded of just how much we love to sleep. We’re in the midst of the annual National Bed Month, organised by The Sleep Council – who aim to inform us all of why a sound sleep is so good for our health.
Sleep is incredibly important for our general health and well-being. It makes us feel good and we’re more productive when rested. It’s also thought that a good sleep has properties that can make you healthier and happier, and can even add years to your life!
But, it’s not always easy to get to sleep.
If you struggle to fall asleep or if you find that you just can’t switch off, maybe it’s time to try something different. Here are six of our favourite weird, yet wonderful ways to fall asleep.
1. Inhale through your left nostril
Alternate nostril breathing is a yoga method that is thought to reduce blood pressure and calm you. Lie on your left side and rest a finger on your right nostril to close it. Start slow, deep breathing in the left nostril. Release your finger after a few minutes and relax your arms to a comfortable position, continuing slow, controlled breaths through both nostrils.
2. The 4-7-8 breathing technique
Inhale quietly and softly for a mental count of four, then hold your breath and count to seven. Next, exhale completely through your mouth for eight seconds, in one large breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three times for a total of four breaths.
3. Make your room cooler
You might think that a warm, cosy room is best for a good night’s sleep. But you’d be wrong. It’s actually a colder room that makes it easier to nod off. The perfect temperature? Somewhere between 16-20 degrees is what you need.
4. Leave your socks on
According to research, having warm hands and feet is one of the best ways to encourage rapid sleep onset. Shifting blood flow from your core to your extremities cools down your body, helping you to fall asleep.
If you really don’t like wearing socks to bed, try layering a blanket over your feet, or warming the foot of your bed with a hot water bottle instead.
5. Put a pillow under your knees
If you’re tossing and turning, try lying on your back, putting a pillow under your knees. It might feel odd at first, but it actually helps to support your body; allowing your lower back to assume its natural curve, and relax into the mattress.
6. Take a warm shower before bed
If you’re a morning shower person and find the idea of showering before bed a bit bizarre, just bear with us.
Warming your body up with a hot shower an hour before bed and then stepping into cooler air will cause your body temperature to drop. Studies show that this rapid temperature decrease slows your metabolism faster and prepares your body for sleep. If you try showering around the same time every night, your body has an expectation of what comes next – you’ll be preparing your mind and body for a good night’s sleep.
And, it helps your bed sheets stay cleaner for longer (so, everyone’s a winner).
For more advice, or to find a professional who can help, visit our sleep disorders fact-sheet.