I am a person who loves her sleep – I am not someone to be around while I’m tired and my bed is honestly one of my favourite places. Saying this, I’ve always struggled to nod off and stay asleep, even at times I’ve been incredibly tired. Naturally, this often leaves me feeling tired in the day, not able to perform at my best, and (most importantly) feeling in a low mood or unwell.
Over the past few months I’ve acquired a few different items that have genuinely helped me get into healthier sleeping habits. I’ve found that investing a little money into my sleeping routine has improved my wellbeing day to day. After hunting down the best products to help you sleep, I’ve shared my finds here to speed up the process for my fellow insomniacs
How much sleep do I need?
The first question we usually ask ourselves is, am I getting enough sleep? We hold up the 8 hour figure as the golden standard in sleep but, in reality, our sleep needs vary from person to person. The NHS recommends adults get between 6-9 hours of sleep per night, with 13-18 years olds needing between 8-10 hours!
The amount of sleep you need will depend on;
- Your lifestyle
- How much energy you use
- Your health and physical condition
- Your current sleeping habits
The best thing to do in judging how much sleep you need is to http://thelittersitter.com/BACKUP listen to your body. If you can not function on less than 9 hours of sleep a night, do not try and force yourself to sleep less in order to hit that 8 hour mark. Likewise, if you wake up after 6 hours feeling absolutely brilliant then there’s no reason to force yourself to increase your time spent in bed. If you feel the need to decrease your sleeping hours, do this gradually over a number of weeks.
Your sleep needs are likely to change throughout your life in response to your needs and lifestyle. What worked for you as a 20 year old uni student won’t be the same as a 30 year old office worker. New parents will have different sleep needs (and tolerances!) pre, during, and post pregnancy. Approach your sleep habits flexibly to hit the right balance for you.
Healthy Bed-time Habits
Having a good bedtime routine is the most helpful thing you can do to improve your sleeping habits. The ritual of winding down and avoiding stimulating activities will prepare you for sleep, help you nod off sooner, and give you a better quality of sleep.
Ever wondered why screen time before bed is a bad thing? Boardman Cutting yourself off from screen time in the hour before bed not only shields you from blue light but helps you avoid stressful situations before bed. Blue light suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone your body releases at night to send you to sleep. Prolonging your screen time delays being able to produce this hormone, leaving you at square one when your head hits the pillow. Avoiding activities likely to heighten your emotions, such as gaming, watching films, or reading upsetting news, also prevents your mind racing while you’re trying to sleep.
Instead of screen time, read a book, or listen to calming music or the radio. These activities help focus the mind and prevent your thoughts racing before bed. I know of many people who despair that they ‘try’ and read before bed but they don’t get far before nodding off. As far as I’m concerned, this shows how well it fits the purpose of getting into the snoozy mindset! If you want to fall asleep while listening to the radio or music, set the playlist to a specific timer so you don’t have to worry about it being on all night.
Avoid strenuous exercise before bed. Working out too hard will tire you out, but the sudden burst of adrenaline will keep you awake (and you’ll feel very stiff come the morning!). Instead, try some gentle exercise such as light yoga, stretching, or tai chi. These gentle forms of exercise help steady the mind and loosen your body to prepare for relaxation and sleep.
Having a warm bath is widely-given advice for helping you sleep, but the water bill from a daily bath is likely to keep you tossing and turning all night! Treating yourself to a warm bath will help you wind down after a stressful day but, for other nights, warm drinks or items like hot water bottles will have a similar effect. Avoid night time drinks that are too sugary and opt instead for things such as chamomile tea, honey, and milk (almond milk also works as a non-dairy substitute).
Products that Help You Sleep
If you’re still struggling with nodding off at night, it may be time to look into products that help you sleep. The below are all items/apps that I have started using in my bedtime routine and have seen genuinely wonderful results from.
Lavender has long been known for its calming properties and is infused in many products designed to aid sleep and relaxation. Microwaveable heat pads filled with dried lavender can help with sleep, but an alternative is using lavender essential oils. Lavender oils are available in;
- Pillow sprays
- Pulse point rollerballs
- Oil bottles (for either oil burners or electric diffusers)
Of course, if you opt for a candle or oil burner option, ensure you use and extinguish this before you go to sleep! Electric diffusers are a safer option as they usually run on a timer, using steam to diffuse fragrance in your room (and you can play with your oil to water ratio to get the right intensity). Tisserand oils are my usual go to for anything essential oil related and do some good kits you can use to get yourself started.
Weighted blankets have become quite common as an anxiety aid over the past year or two as they evenly add pressure across your body to help keep you calm. Many people also claim that they help them get a great nights sleep too. Weighted blankets come at a range of costs, but mine (a cute, fluffy, pink blanket) was £34.99 on Amazon. As a guide, you should choose a blanket that’s around 7-12% of your bodyweight to feel the affect without risking any restriction to your breathing.
For me, my weighted blanket has helped me stay asleep through the night, which I used to struggle with. It’s also been incredibly cosy throughout the winter. Whether this will still be helpful in the summer remains to be seen, but for now it’s been an amazing addition to my bed!
Loóna is an app that was advertised to me on Instagram. Loóna is a collection of immersive stories, or ‘Sleepscapes’, you listen and add colour to before you go to sleep. I was somewhat doubtful about how effective Loóna would be but always find myself nodding off by the end of each Sleepscape. Even on nights where I’m still feeling very awake I don’t have trouble nodding off after completing a Sleepscape. The images are truly beautiful and the stories often link back to one another.
Loóna also comes with a range of immersive stories and soundscapes to use as background noise while you drift off. I haven’t tried listening to any of the stories but the playlists are something I always reach for after finishing my Sleepscape for the night.
Loóna’s pricing confuses me slightly, but after a very successful seven day trial I opted for a £29.49 annual membership.
A Sunrise Alarm Clock
Something I’ve always struggled with is waking up feeling fresh and able to face the day. I initially find mobile alarms incredibly jarring, before eventually getting used to them and not hearing the alarm tone at all. My Lumie Bodyclock shine 300 alarm clock (£109, Boots) was an expensive purchase that I ummed and ahhed over for a long time. However, since caving in I’ve not looked back.
The alarm clock wakes you up gently by simulating a sunrise before kicking in with an alarm tone. I was doubtful about how effective this would be but I often find myself waking with the light rather than the audio alarm. I chose the version with the FM radio option so I’ve woken up to hear a range of songs, including Watermelon Sugar, Cardi B’s I Like It, Pompeii and (most randomly) a club mix of The Wellerman. I was not mad about it.
Being woken gently rather than by a jarring alarm tone is a more natural way to switch myself on in the morning and, depending on what tune I wake up to, gives me a positive way to start the day. It can also work as a regular radio or bedside light and also comes with a sunset option and sleep sounds, though I’ve not personally used these.
The combination of these three products that help you sleep has improved my night time habits and left me feeling well rested and awake throughout the day. A slight side effect is me being even more excited for my bed each night, but at least now we’re making the most of our time together!
Looking for more ideas on improving your wellbeing? Read my self care tips for long lasting improvement to your wellbeing.