WHEN you tuck yourself into bed at night, what is it that keeps you awake?
Brits are bound by similar problems, such as anxiety, health issues and scrolling through social media.
The UK is a nation of troubled sleepers, survey results confirmed.
Almost one in five of us (17 per cent) never wake up feeling rested.
That’s according to Motion Nutrition, producer of the sleep aid capsules Unplug, which quized 2,000 UK.
More than half of people would describe their sleep as fragmented.
A measly one in ten would say they get a good night’s rest every night.
When asked what keeps them from sleeping, pets, partners and work worries were all among the top 10 reasons.
Phoebe Liebling, a Harley Street functional nutritionist, reveals how to fix these common sleep woes.
1. restless mind
General anxiety and a restless mind is unsurprisingly the top reason Brits struggle to sleep.
There is no “off” switch you can flick just before bed. So prioritizing an evening routine that allows you to slowly wind down is key.
Phoebe says you can train the nervous system to turn off more easily, and therefore quickly feel rested.
She said: “Taking two to three ‘shut downs’ from noise, bright electric light & technology across your day trains your nervous system not to be so trigger happy.
“Remove yourself from all external factors that make your nervous system over jazzed.
“Your body can only respond to stimulus for so long before it becomes stressed.
“Breaking the day with 5-10 respites from this makes such a huge difference.”
2. Having to wake up in the morning
It seems obvious, but simply having to wake up in the morning can cut our sleep short.
“Alarm clocks are a very modern invention,” Phoebe said.
She suggests instead that you get into the habit of a sleep routine that allows you to wake up naturally in the morning, feeling refreshed, rather than to a disturbing alarm.
This calculation can help you work out what time you need to go to bed in order to wake up refreshed every morning.
Phoebe said: “If you create a pattern of getting up at a regular time you will naturally feel wakeful then without assistance.
“Sometimes the most obvious things are also the most effective – if you have to get up early then go to bed early.”
If the idea of hitting the sack one or two hours earlier than normal seems out of reach, don’t do it all in one go.
Phoebe said: “You can train your circadian rhythm [internal body clock] by about 20 minutes every two weeks.”
Sometimes it can feel like our hands are glued to our phone when we know we should be sleeping.
Phoebe said: “The issue with screens is two fold – the blue light they emit tells your brain to be wakeful, and the moving imagery and sounds are forms of stimulus too.”
Phoebe urged people to remove the temptation of scrolling by leaving your phone outside your bedroom at least one hour before sleep – or at least turning it off.
She said: “Turn to more analogous activities like reading a book/magazine, listening to the radio, doing a crossword or puzzle in the paper or having a nice relaxing bath.
“If you usually text in the evening, pick up the phone and chat instead.
“See your wind down time as sacred, it’s the key to optimal sleep.”
4. Worries about work
Phoebe says it’s not always possible to just switch worries about work off – although strategies like breath work and meditation can help you to wind down.
Instead, she said, “we can alter how we interact with pressure” to have a more general, calm approach to life stressors, such as work.
She explained: “Poor sleep for just one night decreases total brain activity by 30 per cent which makes us less rational, more emotional and far more anxious than if we were well rested.
“Stimulants including coffee, caffeinated teas and energy drinks feed into this cycle as they compromise sleep quality and make our stress response more easily switched on.
“Halve your caffeine intake and replace those cups with water for a week, watch those worries become less disturbing as your body calms.”
You may think alcohol helps you to nod off. But for sleep quality, it’s the devil.
Phoebe said: “The presence of booze in the body will cut off 20 per cent of REM sleep.
“This is when our brain regenerates overnight and so if we drink, even a small amount, regularly we limit this significantly.
“Try making your weeknights alcohol free, turn to a botanical non-alcoholic spirit with sparkling water, you get the ceremony but without the consequence.
“And then when you do have alcohol think about overall intake. Two white wine spritzers over an evening is the same as one small glass of wine.
“You can still enjoy alcohol but your body will bounce back faster.”
6. Partners bedtime clothes
Snoring, bathroom trips, fidgeting and so much more – our partners can wind us round the bend at night.
It may be worth considering a “sleep divorce”, whereby you and your partner go to bed at different times to respect that your body clocks are different.
However, Phoebe says that those that go to bed at the same time “feel safe, secure and valued by a significant other [and] have been shown to have better quality rest than those who don’t”.
If it’s not feasible to go to sleep at the same time, use silicone earplugs and a comfortable cotton sleep mask to block out the sound of your partner getting ready for bed.
7. background noise
Unfortunately not all of us can sleep in a quiet haven.
The TV, noisy neighbours, roommates or family members can disturb sleep at all hours.
Phoebe said: “Silicone earplugs are a lifesaver here, they deaden noise and allow you to slumber undisturbed.
“They take two to three nights to get used to but after this you’ll wonder why you haven’t always used them.”
8. Health issues
Health issues, including pain and the menopause, commonly plague Brits who need some rest.
Phoebe said: “Ill health, or feeling out of control of our body in any way is anxiety inducing, and being disturbed by pain is then exhausting on top of that.
“One of the key nutrients insufficient in our diets these days is magnesium, and it’s also a vital ingredient when it comes to hormone balance, sleep induction and pain relief.
“Combine this with L-theanine, an amino acid shown to calm an overwrought nervous system, for optimal benefits.”
Controlling the temperature is imperative if your health issues are controlled by hormones, as they are for women in the menopause.
Phoebe said: “Open a window about an hour before bed so you’re going to sleep in a cool environment.”
9. Lackluster bedroom environment
Ever wondered why a hotel room is so inviting?
It’s made so by ambience – and you can create that same feeling in your own home to help guide you into sleep.
Phoebe said: “We spend a third of our lives in bed and if we’re trying to sleep in a setting we don’t like it’s going to be an uphill battle.
“Think about warm lighting, using essential oils to scent the space, and even change the orientation of your bed.
“Make your sleeping space a sanctuary to serene slumbering!”
We adore our furry friends and hate to imagine them lonely at night.
But it shouldn’t be at the sacrifice of your sleep, as Phoebe says pets “really shouldn’t be in the bedroom”.
“They need their rest too and should feel secure to settle somewhere away from you for the night,” she said.
“If this is a new thing for your current pets then start by having a secure crate in your room that you pop them into to sleep, gradually move this into another room over time to allow them to adjust.”