How to get to sleep: 9 different ways to help you fall into deep sleep - including performing a yoga pose

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These tips will have you drifting off in no time

It’s a problem that plagues many of us at some point in our lives - the struggle to fall asleep. For some, it’s a short-term issue but for others the inability to drop off to sleep and get a good night’s kip causes them trouble night after night.

We all know there are certain things that will help to start to prepare our body for sleep, such as not drinking caffeine for a few hours before bedtime and also not doing activities which will keep the body alert like watching the news or scrolling through social media. But, if you’ve done these things and you’re still struggling to get some shut eye, the chances are you’ll not only be really tired but also really fed up.

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Fear not, NationalWorld has spoken to some sleep experts for their alternative top tips for falling asleep quickly and peacefully. March is National Bed Month, and Friday 17 March also marks World Sleep Day, so it’s an ideal time to improve your sleep routine, and the quality of rest you get. Give these nine tips a try and see if you can enjoy a full night’s rest tonight.

Start planning for your sleep in the morning

Geraldine Joaquim, a clinical hypnotherapist and wellness coach, says that if people want to get a good night’s sleep their preparation has to start hours before.

She said: “Your sleep starts in the day. Get outside as early as possible into natural daylight. This sets your circadian rhythm, your 24 hour biological clock. Exposure to natural sunlight also triggers the production of melatonin, your sleep regulating hormone, which gets stored ready to be released later in the evening. In bright sunlight you are exposed to around 50,000-100,000 lux, which is the standardised unit of measurement of light level intensity. Even on a cloudy day it can be around 5,000 lux, whereas at best you’ll get 200-500 lux from artificial lighting.”

Get moving

Anna McKay, CEO of Zeez Sleep, advises that people should get moving during the evening. She said it doesn’t have to be strenuous exercise, but evening movement helps balance out our hormones - and that means we are calmer at night. It also drains fluid from our tissues, and that means it’s less likely we’ll need to use the toilet during the night.

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These alternative sleep tips from experts will have you falling asleep in no time.These alternative sleep tips from experts will have you falling asleep in no time.
These alternative sleep tips from experts will have you falling asleep in no time. | NationalWorld/ Mark Hall

Dim the lights

Joaquim recommends that you start to dim lights around 60 to 90 minutes before you want to go to sleep as this promotes the release of all that melatonin you made earlier.

Eat the right things at the right times

If you want to sleep well, you also need to eat well - and at the best possible times. McKay said you should eat an egg, a little salmon or chicken, or nuts seeds and oats sometime before 12.30pm. She said: “These foods contain essential amino acid tryptophan which helps us to make serotonin in our brain, and that is the building block for melatonin.”

Joaquim says you should also stop eating around 60 to 90 minutes before bed too as this allows time for your digestive system to switch off - and that also means you won’t be disturbed by trips to the bathroom throughout the night. McKay suggests that you should have your evening meal no later than 7pm and include lots of vegetables because veggies are packed full of fibre and fibre is also good for sleep.

Anna McKay, CEO of Zeez SleepAnna McKay, CEO of Zeez Sleep
Anna McKay, CEO of Zeez Sleep | Anna McKay

Imagine your favourite place

If you picture a place that you feel really comfortable in, in your mind, this will help you drift off, according to Joaquim. She said: “Imagine a static scene in your mind and make it as detailed as you can. It can be somewhere you’ve been before, such as a favourite holiday destination, or a walk through the woods, or even a favourite room in your house - just somewhere you feel comfortable. This engages the brain in a gentle way and promotes the release of serotonin, the mood stabiliser hormone, which helps to make you feel relaxed and safe. This is a state you need to be in if your brain is going to switch off and allow you to be as vulnerable as sleep makes you.”

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Work through a worry tree

If your mind is whirring and you’re finding it very difficult to settle down then Joaquim advises working through a worry tree. She says this is a useful psychological tool to help you download your day, getting it out of your head and on to paper. She advises people to write things down under the following headings: what’s on my mind right now and what am I really worrying about?

Once you have established what it is you are actually anxious about, you then need to decide if it’s something you can do something about or not. If the answer is no, she says “it’s time to let it go and start thinking about something nice”. To finish your tree, in this case, you should write down three things that were good about the day. If the answer is yes, however, you should then write down how you plan to tackle it so you can start to let it go. If you can do something about it in the moment, then you should, but if it has to wait until another day then you should write down just when you can start resolving it. In both of these instances, you can then again write down three good things from the day.

A worry tree created by clinical hypnotherapist and wellness coach Geraldine Joaquim.A worry tree created by clinical hypnotherapist and wellness coach Geraldine Joaquim.
A worry tree created by clinical hypnotherapist and wellness coach Geraldine Joaquim. | Geraldine Joaquim

Do something calming - and don’t automatically switch off the TV

To give yourself the best possible chance of falling asleep, you should do something that makes you feel happy, calm and content before you go to bed. Joaquim says that this doesn’t mean you have to switch off the television altogether, but just make sure you are watching the right thing. “Watch a light comedy TV show or film, read a book or magazine, take a bath - whatever works for you as long as you’re setting your body and your brain up to rest. If you do things that are stimulating, such as watching the news, scrolling social media or working, then you’re telling your brain to be alert and you can’t really expect it to simply switch off from that state.”

Perform a yoga pose

Joaquim believes that performing a yoga pose called viparita karani shortly before you get into bed could hold the key to getting to sleep easily. She advises that you lay down on the floor with your legs up the wall and your bum against the skirting board, your arms by your side. She said: “This is a yoga pose, also known as the legs-up-the-wall pose that helps to calm the central nervous system, moving you into the parasympathetic nervous system, your relaxation mode. Try doing it for 10-15 minutes before bedtime and you’ll sleep like a baby!”

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Geraldine Joaquim, clinical hypnotherapist and wellness coach. Photo by Kerry Harrison.Geraldine Joaquim, clinical hypnotherapist and wellness coach. Photo by Kerry Harrison.
Geraldine Joaquim, clinical hypnotherapist and wellness coach. Photo by Kerry Harrison. | Kerry Harrison

Use smells to help signify your wake and sleep time

Aromatherapist Yasmine ElGhamrawy says you can use scent as a trigger to help you wind down and wake up. She said: “This will train your mind to think of a particular routine as something to look forward to and shut off for the night. If you are one of the people who wake up at night, for a variety of reasons, you can also use that same scent to signal to your brain it’s still time to be asleep and not wake up too. With that same concept, you can use a different scent to help you wake up that does the opposite, so that is the first thing you smell when you want to become alert.”

Aromatherapist Yasmine ElGhamrawy.Aromatherapist Yasmine ElGhamrawy.
Aromatherapist Yasmine ElGhamrawy. | Yasmine ElGhamrawy

ElGhamrawy suggests using lavender, roman chamomile, or sweet marjoram for your sleep smell and rosemary, peppermint or bergamot for your waking smell, but she says that choosing a smell is personal - so pick two that you like. The easiest way to inhale these smells is to put a couple of drops of essential oil on a tissue and inhale when necessary. Alternatively, you could buy an oil diffuser to help distribute the scent around your room. If you do use an oil diffuser, just remember to turn it off before you fall asleep or leave your home for the day. Right now, you can buy an oil diffuser with six essential oils from Amazon, so this could be a great kit to help you choose your waking and sleeping scents.

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