This list of natural sleep aids is an insomniac’s dream come true, especially as the pandemic drags on and we add holiday stress 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 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, our struggle with “coronasomnia” is real.
Indeed, half the people interviewed for a study carried out by Kings College London and Ipsos MORI during the first UK lockdown said their sleep was more disturbed than usual.
Another study by the University of Southampton saw 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.
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 Amazon.)
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 £5.51/5ml from EasyPharmaCie.)
OriHea contoured sleep mask
This isn’t your average sleep mask. OK, I admit that it looks a bit like a tiny bra, but the contoured 100% blackout eye cover allows plenty of room for your eyes and eyelashes, so you can blink properly while wearing it. For me, that’s a game-changer. I hate feeling like a mask is squashing against my eyelids. It’s made of a light and breathable low-rebound memory foam, with a smooth fabric that doesn’t cause friction against your skin. The elasticated adjustable strap at the back has a Velcro fastening that lies flat against your head. The mask is dark purple and comes in a little Hessian bag. (Available for £7.99 from Amazon.)
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 – Get 10% off until 17 December with this code: GIFTOFSHAKTI.)
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 – Get 15% off with this code: XMAS15.)
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.