Are you one of those people who can doze off just about anywhere? Perhaps you regularly drift off during your daily commute or can’t be trusted to stay awake at the cinema?
Even those of us who can usually sleep on a clothes line occasionally struggle with nodding off. But what’s the best way to tackle those times when sleep is not quite forthcoming?
These are our five science-backed tips for helping you get some shuteye.
1. Introduce a wind down routine
It’s not just newborn babies who benefit from sleep cues. Introducing a relaxing bedtime routine – and sticking to it – can be a reliable way to regulate sleep. Commit to staying free of TV, tablet and smartphone screens for a few hours before bedtime. You could swap them for activities that are more likely to help you unwind.
Did you know that taking a warm shower or bath could induce snooziness? Music at bedtime has also been shown to aid sleep and to improve sleep quality – and a sleep playlist can help. Finally, gentle stretches, meditation and yoga can all prepare your body and mind for a period of rest.
2. Get the temperature right
Did you know your body has a temperature sweet spot that can help you sleep? The US National Sleep Foundation recommends a room temperature of 14-15 °C (60-67 °F).
However, it’s not as simple as getting your room to the correct temperature, you need to ensure your tootsies are warm too. Research has shown that the blood vessel dilatation in your extremities is important in regulating your body’s temperature for sleep. This means you should keep those bed socks at the ready!
3. Try 4-7-8 breathing
When it comes to quick ways to get to sleep, you should forget counting sheep and try the 4-7-8 breathing technique instead. Devotees swear by it and claim it can put you to sleep in under in a minute! So what’s it all about?
Put simply, it’s a way to control your breathing that acts as a natural sleep aid. Experts say that its drowsiness-inducing qualities could be down to expelling carbon dioxide more quickly. You can find an explanation and video of the technique here.
4. Go to a relaxing spot (in your head)
Tossing, turning and running over your day in your head are not great ways to relax and unwind. When you want to get to sleep, try picturing yourself in a dreamy spot.
Visualise yourself sunbathing on a white sandy beach, strolling through a leafy forest or enjoying a day at the spa. Research shows that you’ll have a far better chance of nodding off. So, if you’d rather be dreaming than lying awake, give your subconscious a head start.
5. Tense and release
Shedding yourself of stress and tension can set you on course for a restful sleep and can be done while you lie back comfortably on your mattress. Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and relaxing different groups of muscles in order. Practiced daily, this can help you to drift off more quickly and to enjoy a quality sleep.
If you’re still struggling to nod off despite trying the tricks above, keeping a sleep diary or using a sleep app could help you identify factors that are getting in your way.