With research showing almost three quarters of us don’t get enough sleep, how can we stop tossing and turning and start sleeping soundly? Here, we uncover the best natural sleep support techniques that are proven to work
Whether it’s scrolling on TikTok or your mind racing at 3am, many of us struggle with sleep. In fact, research by Bed SOS has found that half of us don’t think we get enough sleep, and 20% of us feel exhausted the next day.
But it’s not just about the amount of sleep we get; the quality of our sleep is essential, too. In the UK, 25% of adults feel fretting about money impacts their sleep, and 37% said work leaves them feeling less in control of their sleep. With so much going on in our lives, it’s no wonder our sleep can suffer, but it’s important to prioritise it where you can – the health benefits of sleep are vast, helping support our immune system, our mental health, and even keeping our heart healthy. Let’s explore some natural ways that you can support your sleep that are all scientifically backed.
1. Ditch the caffeine
Caffeine is known for stimulating the brain, which makes it great when you need to get through your morning meeting, but less helpful if you’re trying to drift off to sleep. While you don’t have to go caffeine-free, coffee can help you stay alert up to four to six hours after drinking it, which is why most experts recommend avoiding it in the evening, with one study finding that 400mg of caffeine (which you’ll find in around four cups) consumed up to six hours before bed significantly disrupts sleep.
However, not everyone is as sensitive. “Everyone is different when it comes to caffeine; some of us can drink tea and coffee in the evenings and still get a normal night’s sleep, while others may need to limit caffeine intake from the afternoon onwards,” advises Sophie Medlin, consultant dietitian at City Dietitians. If you fall into the latter camp, it could be worth swapping your coffee for a non-caffeine alternative, such as herbal tea or chicory root coffee.
2. Log off before you hit the pillow
Finding a bedtime routine that’s phone-free could be worth trying – even if it’s leaving your phone in the other room, and reading a book in bed instead. It’s thought the blue light from your phone screen can interfere with the sleep-hormone, melatonin, as well as making you more alert as you scroll online and take in information.
When we use our phone in bed, not only are we likely to get less sleep (if our phone keeps us busy), but we also reduce the amount of REM sleep – the stage of sleep when we vividly dream.
“For many people, technology has crept into the bedroom, making the bed a place of work, entertainment, eating, etc. It equates the bed with lots of activities other than sleep,” says clinical hypnotherapist Geraldine Joaquim. “Use your bed just for sleep, as you want your brain to associate it with sleep, not scrolling social media and watching TV.”
3. Choose the right kind of workout
A workout gives you energy, so many think it’s