You’re lying in bed; you know you’re tired or you’re supposed to be tired but try as you might you just can’t fall asleep! It seems that now more than ever, trying to exhaust ourselves is an impossible task and nights are becoming a restless mess!
Although we don’t have a one trick fix that will send you to sleep in seconds, we do have a few helpful tips that may help you get a better night sleep.
1. Stick to a sleep schedule
Despite sounding so simple, for some at the moment routine is well and truly out the window. Some of us are staying up late binge-watching TV and waking up whenever they please while others are going to bed incredibly early because they’ve got nothing else to do. Motivating yourself to find a schedule or routine seems almost impossible but it could make a big difference to your night’s sleep.
You should be aiming to go to bed and wake up at the same time, seven days a week1… that’s right, we mean weekends too! This sleep schedule will help to regulate your body clock and can even assist with staying asleep for the night.1
2. Exercise Daily
We’re fortunate to be able to leave the house for exercise and we really should be taking advantage of it. Regular daily exercise has been proven to help you get a better night's sleep.2
If you aren’t sure where to start or what kind of exercises to do, these three simple categories have been scientifically linked to a better night sleep.
Cardio can sometimes be pretty hard but the great thing is for a better night sleep you don’t need to run a marathon. Cycling, a brisk walk and running are all great ways to get your heart rate up. You should aim for 150 minutes a week, but (as always) something is better than nothing and even short 10-minute blocks here and there will help!2
Exercise that aims to strengthen and build muscle such as push ups, lunges, bicep curls, dips and squats can help you fall asleep faster and makes you less likely to wake up during the night.2
The calming stretching and breathing that yoga encourages is a great way to reduce stress, which may be what’s stopping you from getting a good night rest.2
Not only could these exercises stop you from tossing and turning, they can also help reduce stress and boost alertness during the day.2
3. Wind Down
About an hour before you would like to go to bed, you should start encouraging your body to wind down and transition into sleep mode. During this time, you should avoid using screens and electronic devices as the light they use activates the brain.1 Instead try reading a book, practicing some meditation or even run yourself a bath
4. Avoid Napping
When you’re stuck in isolation with nothing else to do, a nap can seem like an excellent idea… especially if you had a rotten sleep the night before! As tempting as it is, you should avoid this, especially later in the day.1 Napping, when you’re already having a hard time sleeping may lead to a vicious cycle of broken sleep routines.3
Magnesium is an essential mineral for good health and contributes to important bodily functions such as bone health, brain, heart and muscle function.4 A 2012 study found that magnesium contributed to helping elderly people fall asleep better whilst it also improved their sleep duration.5 Research has also indicated that people with mental and physical stress can benefit from daily magnesium intake as it can help to improve the parasympathetic nervous system which can help achieve calmness.6
If you’re having a hard time sleeping, you may want to consider consuming more magnesium – this important mineral can be found naturally in foods such as legumes, whole wheats and seeds.7 If you are struggling to get enough magnesium in your diet, you may want to consider a magnesium supplement to help support your nutritional needs*.
If you’ve tried a few techniques and you’re truly having a difficult time sleeping and unable to work through your sleeping irregularities, you should speak to your healthcare professional.
* ALWAYS READ THE LABEL. FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS FOR USE. IF SYMPTOMS PERSIST, TALK TO YOUR HEALTH PROFESSIONAL. ADULTS ONLY. VITAMIN AND MINERAL SUPPLEMENTS SHOULD NOT REPLACE A BALANCED DIET.
4. De Baaij JHF, Hoenderop JGJ and Bindels RJM. Magnesium in man: implications for health and disease. Physiol Rev 2015; 95: 1-48.
5. Abbasi B, Kimiagar M, Sadeghniiat K, Shirazi MM, Hedayati M, Rashidkhani B. The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Res Med Sci 2012; 17(12):1161-1169.
6. Wienecke E and Nolden C. Long-term HRV analysis show stress reduction by magnesium intake. MMW Fortschr Med 2016; 158(Suppl 16): 12-16.