How to get to sleep and stay asleep

From beditation to moon milk – the surprising sleep tips trending now
Plain Picture, Getty Images

Wind down like a child

Set a bed time ‘Have a regular sleep and wake-up schedule – and stick to it – even at the weekend,’ says Dr Alanna Hare, a consultant in respiratory and sleep medicine at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London. Yes, you can be an early riser every day! ‘This programs the brain and your body clock, helping you sleep reliably at bedtime and wake up feeling refreshed.’

Find your own lullaby Relaxing classical music has been found to help your body hit snooze mode, while Spotify notes that Ed Sheeran crops up most commonly on sleep playlists. (It’s a compliment, Ed!)

Run a warm bath Have you wondered why tots get drowsy after a soak? Their temperature drops afterwards, which is believed to trigger the brain’s sleep response. Give it a go.

Conk out with a book Your bedtime novel might no longer be Roald Dahl, but reading can be calming (six minutes may reduce stress levels by more than two-thirds). Or download the Calm app and let narrators (such as Stephen Fry and Joanna Lumley) read grown-up sleep stories to you.

Boss your jim-jams Forget the negligee and don bed-wear in natural fabrics, such as cotton. These are more breathable, which can help with discomfort and keep you cool at night.

‘I’m awake – now what?’

Dr Guy Meadows, co-founder of The Sleep School, has two important rules for sleeplessness

DO accept you’re awake: ‘Don’t lie there fretting.Accepting you’re awake is the first and most powerful step towards getting yourself back to sleep. In fact, many people tell me they fall asleep just as the sun is rising and when they couldn’t fight it any more.’

DON’T get up: ‘You gain a lot from simply lying in bed. Getting up pushes you further away from the place you want to be. Learning how to deal with your discomfort, and accept your thoughts, rather than fighting against them, is the balance that will help bring sleep.’

Time to try… beditation?

Yep, it’s meditation to help you get one step closer to the Land of Nod. It may help lower blood pressure and ease stress levels which, in turn, promote relaxation and a better night’s sleep. Try this beditation tutorial.

4 reasons sleep is better than a Netflix all-nighter

1. It supports your immunity. One study found that sleeping for fewer than six hours makes you more likely to catch a cold than if you slumber for longer.

2. It can help with weight. Research has linked obesity with fewer than six hours of sleep a night. It’s believed that a lack of Zzzs not only makes you crave junk food, but reduces levels of leptin, a chemical that helps signal when you are full.

3. It boosts your sex life. Studies have suggested that those who don’t get enough quality shut-eye have lower libidos.

4. It can support your heart. ‘Poor sleep quality increases the risk of heart attack, elevated blood pressure, heart failure and stroke,’ says Dr Hare. So show you care with more kip.


Drink me!

The classic ‘warm milk before bed’ has had a makeover with the trend for ‘moon milk’ (an Ayurvedic sleeplessness remedy, often containing honey, cinnamon and milk). While there’s no scientific proof of its efficacy, it’s a bedtime hug in a mug. For inspo, see #moonmilk on Instagram.

Snoozetime mythbuster

1. We all need eight hours a night
FALSE ‘Some people need less, some more,’ says Sammy Margo, author of The Good Sleep Guide (Vermilion). ‘If you feel well rested in the morning, you’re getting it right.’

2. Alcohol helps you sleep well
FALSE ‘You’ll fall asleep quicker, but alcohol reduces the time spent in the restorative rapid eye movement (REM) sleep stage, making it less restful,’ says Dr Hare.

3. Peppermint tea will keep you awake
TRUE Yep! It might be soothing, but it also makes you feel alert, focused and stimulated, so save it for daytime hours.

4. You should always sleep on your back
FALSE ‘Sleep posture is personal preference,’ says Sammy. ‘But front-sleeping could cause neck and back problems, so make sure your pillow supports your head properly.’

5. A gym session will help you drift off
TRUE-ISH Although regular exercise, such as walking, swimming and yoga, helps to relieve tension and may help sleep, avoid anything too vigorous close to bedtime.

Your drift off kit

The soft, comfy EcoTools Sustainable Sleep Mask is ideal if your curtains or blinds don’t keep out enough light. You’ll look forward to being kept in the dark.

BetterYou Magnesium Sleep Body Lotion contains a combination of magnesium chloride, lavender and camomile to aid relaxation.

This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray* contains sleep-promoting lavender, vetivert and camomile. Here’s to sweet (smelling) dreams!

Easy-to-take Nytol Liquid Caramel Flavour[/bootsproduct]* can help alleviate temporary sleeplessness. Contains diphenhydramine; always read the leaflet.

*Available in selected stores only.