It should be easy, right? Yet for those of us who battle with insomnia, sleep can be anything but. Follow these tips and you’ll soon be nodding off…
It seems we are a nation divided — and no, we don’t mean Brexit. We’re talking about sleep.
On one side, there are those who nod off the second their heads hit the pillow, and then there are those who toss and turn for hours on end.
According to official figures, one third of us struggle to get a good night’s sleep.
Worse, soaring numbers of children are being admitted to hospital for sleeping disorders.
Admissions for under-16s have risen by 44 per cent in the last five years, which experts blame on mental health problems, social media and obesity.
Long term, the clinical consequences of untreated sleep disorders are grave, and are linked with numerous serious illnesses, including high blood pressure, strokes and depression.
Improving our sleeping habits can have huge benefits to productivity and our ability to focus at school or work.
So what can we do to get that elusive good night’s sleep?
Here Anandi The Sleep Guru gives her top tips…
Check your hormones
To begin with, go and ask your GP about having a melatonin test.
Low melatonin levels are associated with depression and the acceleration of the body’s ageing process. A test will tell you if your sleep hormones are working properly.
How well you absorb and secrete melatonin can be influenced by how late you go to bed, by artificial light and by seasonal changes.
If you find you’re deficient, try deep breathing, meditation, switching off electrical devices and going to bed and getting up earlier — these can all help.
Hum like a bumble bee
Humming creates a deep, healing vibration.
It relaxes the mind and the nervous system, and helps the body make sleep-inducing melatonin. Close your mouth, inhale through your nose and exhale by humming.
Massage your jaw
People who have trouble sleeping often grind their teeth. This makes the jaw muscles extremely tight, creating stress in the body.
To counteract this, find the corner of your jaw bone with your middle fingers and move the finger in small circular motions as deeply as possible. Do this for 30 seconds five times a day.
‘Surrender’ your breath
Many people are shallow breathers, which raises your heart rate and blood pressure and makes deep sleep hard.
Anandi suggests lying on your back and practising ‘surrendered breath’.
When you ‘try’ to breathe there is a certain amount of tension in the body, so your rib cage is tense and you can’t expand it.
When your body is completely relaxed, you create far more space in your body to breathe.
The 10-minute yoga pose
Viparita karani, or the legs-up-the-wall pose, is a restorative yoga position that anyone can do, and an excellent natural sleep remedy.
It can even be beneficial if you wake up in the night.
The move stretches and relieves tiredness in the back of the legs and feet.
Use it as part of your routine to unwind before sleep. Turn off technology, put your pyjamas on and light some candles, then lie on your back, flat on the floor with your legs straight up against the wall. Open your arms out to the sides and exhale.
Hold this pose for 10 minutes to completely relax your system.
Eat cherries and dates
Natural forms of melatonin can be found in dates, Montmorency cherries (a type of sour cherry) and grapes, while bananas, oatmeal and milk will boost its production in the body.
To further help your body create its own melatonin, take a natural sleep and anxiety relief supplement, such as Neuro Rest (£24, utmostme.com), which contains magnesium to help calm the nervous system.
Have a laugh
Make time to watch your favourite comedy. Laughter promotes oxytocin, another happy hormone, which helps you relax and strengthens your immune system.
Go outside every day
We need natural light to boost production of serotonin and melatonin, and the quickest way to get this is to go outside. If you walk a lot, your brain goes into a relaxed state, leaving you more creative and grounded.
For more information, visit thesleepguru.co.uk