This list of natural sleep aids is an insomniac’s dream come true, especially as the pandemic drags on and we add holiday stress and menopause to the mix.
Hey. How’s your sleep been lately? With a global pandemic and the resulting instability in pretty much every aspect of our lives including work, social life, relationships and health, it’s not surprising that our sleep might be disturbed. Add to that holiday stress and hormonal fluctuations due to menopause, and we’ve got a perfect storm.
Good quality sleep is vital to our physical, mental and emotional health, with adults needing about 7-9 hours a night. However, between “coronasomnia” and the menopause, the struggle is real.
According to one study by the University of Southampton, the pandemic is linked to a significant rise in the number of people suffering from sleep problems – from one in six to one in four. Some 80% of the people in the study group said they had no problems with sleep loss pre-pandemic. Moreover, the Sleep Foundation says that sleep disorders affect 39 to 47 percent of perimenopausal women and 35 to 60 percent of postmenopausal women.
Five game-changers for sleeping better
My personal relationship with sleep has been erratic over the past decade and a half, so I’ve tried pretty much every natural sleep remedy out there. Of course, good “sleep hygiene” is key (see below for tips), but there’s a handful of sleep aids that I can’t live without.
If you know somebody who suffers from insomnia, I can guarantee that they’d be grateful to find one of these items under the Christmas tree:
BetterYou Magnesium Sleep Body Lotion
I rub this lotion into my shoulders, neck, and lower legs every night. It delivers an expertly blended combination of magnesium chloride and essential oils of lavender and chamomile. It has been specially formulated to relax tired muscles, slow sensory activity and quieten the mind, allowing for a deeper and more sustained sleep cycle. The magnesium helps promote overall wellbeing and relaxation. (Available for £9.95/180ml bottle from BetterYou. 30% Black Friday offer ends at midnight UK time, 1st Dec.)
Florame Organic Roll-on Relaxant aux Huiles Essentielles
A friend gifted this to me several years ago and I’ve been using it ever since. Formulated with orange leaf and Roman chamomile essential oils, it has calming and soothing properties that help with stress and anxiety. I roll it onto my inner wrists and dab a bit onto my pillowcase at bedtime. The bottle is small, but it lasts me several months. I usually order a bunch at a time, so I ensure that I never run out. It also makes a nice little stocking stuffer. (Available for £5.56/5ml from EasyPharmaCie.)
Sensate relaxation device
OMG this has changed my life. I am seriously addicted to this device, which sends me off to sleep every night since I started using it. The Sensate is a small pebble-shaped device that rests on your chest and emits gentle vibrations (infrasonic waves) that are synchronised with specially composed music in an app. (Sounds a bit like a sex toy, but I swear, it’s not, lol.) The sessions vary in length from 10 to 30 minutes and the vibrations stimulate your vagus nerve, which is shown to have an impact on stress and anxiety levels. The novel technology is designed to gently soothe your nerves from the first session. (Available for £199 or 2 for £350 from Sensate. Liz Earle has a £20 off discount code: LIZEARLE.)
Shakti acupressure mat
During lockdown, my back, neck and shoulders were constantly feeling stiff. Then I bought the Shakti acupressure mat & neck cushion and started using it for 20 minutes before bed every night. Not only did it alleviate my sore muscles, but I really noticed an improvement in my sleep, so I added it to my repertoire. It’s based on the Indian bed of nails – a relaxation tool that’s been used for thousands of years. The spikes on the mat press against your skin and support sleep, circulation, muscle relaxation and stress relief. It’s also an ethical company, which is why I chose this company rather than a cheaper version that may be available elsewhere.
(Available here – prices vary depending on which mat you get, but mine was £49 and the neck pillow was £29.)
Ocushield anti-blue light screen protector
This is newer to my list, but I can already tell that it’s making a difference. I put one of these screen protectors on my iPhone and one on my laptop a couple of weeks ago and my eyes are definitely feeling less tired and sore by the end of the day. The medically rated protectors filter out the blue light that can keep you awake if you happen to be on screen at night – even though that goes against good sleep hygiene rules, but hey, nobody’s perfect.
(Available at Ocushield – prices vary but my iPhone protector was £24.99 and my laptop protector was £39.99. They have a 20% CyberWeek sale.)
Top 10 sleep hygiene tips
Experts agree that practising good sleep hygiene can really help you get a better snooze. It’s easier said than done, but here are some habits to try:
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day
- Avoid lying in
- Establish a bedtime routine – relax by reading a book or having a bath
- Make sure that your bed and bedding are comfortable
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol in the evening
- Don’t eat a heavy meal late at night
- Avoid exercise in the evening
- Keep your bedroom cool and dark – the ideal bedroom temperature is 18°C
- Ban electronic devices & screens from the bedroom – the blue light affects your sleep
- Control noise levels (use earplugs if needed)
I’d love to hear what you do to get a good night’s sleep in the comments below.