Britain is a nation of insomniacs.
According to the Sleeping Council, 70% of us receive less than the recommended eight hours per night, putting us at risk of serious medical conditions including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, depression and diabetes.
About a third of British citizens regularly sleep badly, costing millions in the economy.
There are many stories of old wives to fall asleep, but here are some tried and tested suggestions to help you nod
There are a myriad of stories of old wives preparing to sleep, but KIM JONES has read the research to offer you the most effective and surprising. . .
Eat two kiwis
Kiwis are bursting with vitamin C and fiber and are a superfood for sleeping
Kiwis not only burst with vitamin C and fiber, but they can also be a superfood for sleep.
Taipei Medical University scientists in Taiwan gave the sleepless two kiwis to eat an hour before going to sleep. After four weeks, the volunteers fell asleep faster and slept more deeply and longer.
The super-high folate and the antioxidant content of the fruit could be responsible. Low levels of both are associated with insomnia and low folate levels are also associated with restless leg syndrome.
Forget that little glass
Alcohol helps you fall asleep faster. It also helps to sleep soundly for the first half of the night, according to a review of scientific studies.
However, these benefits are offset by more disturbed sleep in the second half of the night. You are also more likely to snore, sweat and having to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Wear amber-colored glasses
Researchers at Columbia University in the United States asked a group of insomniacs to wear amber-colored glasses in the two hours before going to sleep for seven nights.
Four weeks later, he was ordered to wear glasses for seven others.
It turned out that they had, on average, about 30 minutes of longer sleep and more sound on nights when they wore amber lenses.
Drink more water
Surprisingly, that glass of water you had before entering is not the reason why you woke up during the night. In fact, the reason is more likely to be mild dehydration.
You may find yourself waking up because your throat is dry. According to the Natural Hydration Council, women need about 2 liters of liquids a day and men about 2.5 liters.
Take a bath at 9pm
What helps is the drop in body temperature – a necessity for falling asleep – after leaving the bathroom.
When you dive into hot water, the blood rises on the surface of the skin, but when you go out, those dilated blood vessels radiate heat from the core of your body. This helps to rapidly lower the temperature and encourages the brain to produce the hormone melatonin, which promotes sleepiness.
According to a study by Loughborough University, people who had a hot bath at 9 pm nodded more quickly and enjoyed a deep slow-wave sleep than those who had bathed early in the day.
Wash your hands
Washing your hands in warm water can have the same effect as bathing.
Put your hands dry instead of drying all the moisture. As the water evaporates, the heat disperses from the surface of the skin, helping to cool the body.
Leaving the dishwasher and washing the dishes by hand helps to arouse the mind
Doing dishes by hand can calm the mind and reduce stress, according to a study by Florida State University.
People who did this "knowingly", taking time to focus on the smell of detergent and feeling the temperature of water on their skin, reported a 27% drop in their anxiety levels.
Massage your face
A 20-minute facial massage causes both general drowsiness and a drop in blood pressure, according to a study published in the journal Complementary Therapies In Clinical Practice.
Using moisturizer or night cream, start by applying pressure between the eyebrows. Then slide your fingers up, over and over your forehead, repeating several times. Then, massage from the nose to the cheeks and ears, then from the mouth to the jaw. Finish with the neck, stroking the collarbone upwards.
Go on the wall!
Try yoga positions like Viparita Karani (head down). It is simple and is believed to help slow the heart rate and promote relaxation.
Start by sitting on the floor with one side against the wall. Then turn your body, then face the wall and, holding your buttocks close to the wall, bring your legs on it by gently placing them and lowering your back to the floor.
If necessary, the knees can be slightly bent. Stay in this position for a few minutes.
Works from a window
Employees who sat next to a window slept, on average, for 46 more minutes each night during the working week than those who worked in windowless offices, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Exposure to natural light helps the body clock to stay in tune with the rhythms of daylight and darkness.
Similarly, a lack of sunlight can make us feel depressed or anxious, which can also lead to insomnia.
Wind up to classic music
For a study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, students listened to relaxing classical music for 45 minutes before going to bed every night for three weeks.
They fell asleep earlier, slept better and longer, and experienced fewer depressive symptoms than those without music.
One study found that inhaling lavender essential oil reduces blood pressure and heart rate.
The inhalation of lavender oil reduces blood pressure and heart rate
Another showed that people whose rooms were scented with oil rated their sleep quality as better than 20% of those who slept in a placebo-scented room.
Try spritzing the pillow with a lavender spray, using a lavender diffuser before going to bed or rubbing a couple of drops of oil on the wrists, neck, chest or temples.
Or you can add a few drops to a warm flannel, then lay it on your face and inhale.
Alternatively, pour a few drops of lavender oil into the bathtub or tie a sprig of fresh lavender to the shower – warm water will release the essential oils from the plant.
Adults, as well as children, find it soothing to be lulled into sleep.
Researchers at the University of Geneva have discovered that adults who took a nap in a rocking bed (similar to a hammock) fell asleep faster and had more brain activity associated with a deep and restful sleep . This suggests that a rocking movement helps to synchronize brain waves in a pattern associated with sleep.
Or sit in a rocking chair just before going to bed or try this exercise: stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Then move the weight of the body onto the heels, so that the toes lift off the floor.
Then, shift the weight onto the toes, so that the heels lift.
Continue to swing slowly and smoothly for a few minutes, breathing deeply while you do it. So go to bed.
Write a list of things to do
Just before turning off, write down what needs to be done in the coming days.
A study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology asked a group to spend five minutes writing a to-do list.
Another group had to write down the activities they had completed in the last few days.
Writing a to-do list can help reduce the time it takes to fall asleep while clearing your mind of responsibility
The group that wrote to-do lists fell asleep in about 15 minutes, while the other group took an average of 25. The more detailed and specific the list is, the faster its creator became asleep.
& # 39; Offloading & # 39; in this way it helps to free the mind from responsibility and blocks the thoughts of all those things that run in your mind while you try to nod.
Go to "bathe in the forest"
This Japanese practice – walking slowly through woods or forests, observing nature and inhaling the aromas of trees – has been found to help reduce stress levels, boost the immune system and improve people's mood. A study also found that walking through the woods improved the depth and quality of sleep.
… or take it out inside
Alternatively, use essential oils from trees such as eucalyptus, Douglas fir and cedar in oil burners or diffusers.
Or put the plants in your rooms. Studies have shown that simply looking at foliage, roses and bonsai trees can reduce stress levels and relax the body and mind.
Drink green tea
SIP this during the day, as it contains the amino acid theanine, which has anti-stress effects. Some Japanese studies have found that the low-caffeine drink not only reduces stress but also improves sleep quality.
It lolls like a doll
This is an easy stretching exercise that can calm the mind, release tension and help you relax.
Stand with your arms raised, then lean forward from your hips, lowering yourself towards your toes. Wait there like a ragdoll.
Relax all the muscles and let the heavy head hang down. Feel the tension released by your shoulders. Dangle until you feel comfortable, breathe slowly, let your thoughts wander.
You can also try sighing every time you exhale. Research has suggested that the act of sighing can relieve stress and muscle tension.
People who meditate enjoy deeper and better quality sleep. There are two probable reasons for this.
One is that regular meditation seems to make you feel less stressed. Another is that meditation can significantly increase the production of melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep.
Try this "100 steps" meditation before going to bed. First, imagine you are at the top of a gently sloping hill. The hot sun shines; butterflies and buzzing bees are fluttering among the flowers. Start down the hill as you count down from 100 and exhale with every step you take.
Let your breath come naturally – don't try to breathe faster or slower than usual, and don't worry if your mind wanders.
Staying at a flame
Trataka – or "yogic look" – intensely involves the eyes on an object (usually a candle flame). Yoga experts claim that it will help you sleep.
First light a candle. Sit a few feet away, with the flame almost level with your eyes (make sure there are no air currents so that the flame remains steady). Breathing normally, look at the flame without blinking for as long as possible.
When thoughts enter your mind, be aware of them, then let them go, keeping your focus on the flame. When you need to blink, close your eyes and you will see a residual image of the flame inside your eyelids. When the picture fades, it starts looking at the flame again.
Forget about counting sheep. Every night, write down or say five things that were good for your day. They can be as simple as drinking a welcome cup of tea or bagging a bargain at the supermarket.
Psychological studies conducted by researchers at British and Canadian universities have shown that writing a "gratitude diary" or simply thinking about bedtime about what is good in life can help you fall asleep faster and longer.
Blue light pit
The red-based light has a longer wavelength and less energy to interfere with the sleep state of the blue light emitted by digital technology. So, if you use the night light, switch to the red bulbs.
And buy digital radios or watches with orange or red light displays, rather than white and blue light that interrupts sleep
Walnuts contain the sleep hormone melatonin
They contain the sleep hormone melatonin, so eating more nuts will help increase the amount of blood in your blood.
& # 39; I fall asleep so easily. There is nothing to do! "Using positive affirmations and statements like this could help change the self-sabotage thoughts you have about sleep.
Our minds are constantly influenced by what people tell us. For example, if someone says "You look tired," you might begin to feel that way, even if you felt completely awake up to that point.
In the same way, we can influence our minds to approach sleep positively – to see it as something natural and achievable, not something to worry about not having enough – telling us optimists, encouraging us to do so.
Our brain forms new neural connections all the time. By repeating positive sleep affirmations regularly, we can create new pathways in the brain, reprogramming our minds to feel differently. This is called neuroplasticity – the brain's ability to change and adapt.
A tip: the statements must be present and not contain negative words like "can not" or "will not".
Try directing yourself to statements like the ones below while brushing your teeth before going to bed. Look at yourself in the mirror as you say them aloud, or simply flee to your mind: "I can easily fall asleep gently and peacefully" or "I easily fall asleep and rest easy all night."
Repeat the affirmations every night and several times in the day to continue to convince your mind what a beautiful sleeper you are.
Take a laugh
They could help more during the day. A study published in the Korean Journal of Adult Nursing found that seniors singing funny songs and doing "laughter exercises" had improved sleep. Another study in Japan found nursing mothers who had seen a DVD of the comedy having more than the melatonin of the sleep hormone in their mother's milk.
Remove the sugar
A high-sugar diet can deprive you of golden dreams, according to an American study, because the resulting spikes and collapses in the blood sugar level can cause restlessness.
Clean the air
People living in areas with high air pollution can have up to 60% more likely to sleep poorly than those who live in cleaner areas.
This may be due to the fact that pollution causes irritation to our nose and throat, which can affect sleep. Or it could be that small particles are able to enter the bloodstream and affect the regulation of sleep in the brain.
Use an air purifier. Some have built-in sensors that switch them on when the quality of the air decreases, for example, if there is an accumulation of traffic outside.
Bedding not only absorbs sweat and body oils, but also houses dead skin cells: they are perfect food for dust mites, which can cause allergies and disturb sleep.
Fresh sheets are another of the many techniques to help you fall asleep quickly and in peace
A survey by the National Sleep Foundation in the United States found that 71% of people slept more comfortably on clean sheets, then washed weekly at high temperatures.
Go to birdwatching
Spend five minutes watching the birds. This could be in a garden or in a park, or even just when you sit by a window. A study published in the journal BioScience found that the more birds they saw, the less stressed or anxious they felt.
Check your medicines
Many commonly prescribed pills lead some people to have sleep disorders. These include alpha-blockers and beta-blockers (used to fight hypertension); SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), for depression; and corticosteroids, used to treat inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis.
Also, some over-the-counter medications contain caffeine. And some ingredients in decongestants can mimic the effects of adrenaline, causing nervousness, rapid heart beat and insomnia.
If you are worried, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about any alternatives, or change the time of day when you take your pills.
Capsaicin, the active chemical that gives the hot pepper their spicy heat, can increase body temperature. Preferably, eat spicy meals at lunch rather than in the evening.
In a study at the University of Tasmania, volunteers were served Tabasco sauce and mustard with their evening meal. Their body temperature rose and they spent more time falling asleep than usual, sleeping less deeply and spending more time waking up than normal.
The Swedish art of balanced life
People living in bulky environments took longer to fall asleep and experience a lower quality of sleep than those who were not surrounded by "stuff", according to a psychology study at St Lawrence University.
Try the Swedish principle of lagom. Do not overload your bedroom with unnecessary objects or decorations.
An airy, spacious and fresh atmosphere lets you lie down and relax. Choose a neutral palette, echoing organic materials: fantastic gray, beige and white.
Increases vitamin D
The lack of this vitamin is linked to poor sleep. A study of older men found that those with low levels had difficulty descending and that their sleep was restless. Another, in the Nutritional Neuroscience magazine, gave the vitamin to a sample of people who have had sleep problems – and these have improved.
The main source of vitamin D is sunlight through its action on our skin. In autumn and winter, consider taking a supplement. Other sources are fatty fish, cereal eggs, juices and dairy products.
You can bounce
Even after a couple of bad nights, you can recover.
Scientists have discovered that the body has an intelligent system to compensate for short periods of lost sleep. Wait until we fall asleep again, so we make sure we spend less time in the lighter stages of sleep and more in the stages of deep sleep, the kind that restores us both physically and mentally.
222 Ways To Trick Yourself to Sleep by Kim Jones is published by Piatkus at £ 12.99; © Kim Jones 2019. To order a copy of £ 10.39 (20% discount), visit mailshop.co.uk/books or call 0844 571 0640. Offer valid until March 23, 2019. p & p is free for orders over £ 15. Spend £ 30 on books and receive FREE premium delivery.