Below, Kim Jones, author of new book 222 Ways to Trick Yourself to Sleep shares tips and tricks on how to fall asleep and sleep like a baby again …
Best Ways to Fall Asleep and Stay Asleep
DO THE DOUBLE-VOID
Getting older means we produce less of an antidiuretic hormone that stops the kidneys from making so much urine whilst we’re asleep. Result? More night-time trips to the loo – and disturbed zzzs of course. Minimise the issue by avoiding fluids two hours before bedtime. Then, when getting ready for bed, try the double-voiding technique. First, go to the toilet. Then brush your teeth, get undressed, and have a wash. When you’re about to get into bed (about ten minutes later), try to go to the loo again. The technique is used to treat overactive bladder, to ensure that it’s completely empty. And it could mean you get less annoying awakenings.
LISTEN TO A BEDTIME STORY
Forget reading bedtime books to the kids or grandkids. It’s your turn to get eased to sleep with a story. Sign up to Audible, the online audiobook giant and choose something soothing to listen to (my book 222 Ways to Trick Yourself to Sleep is also available as an audiobook). Or try the popular ‘Calm’ app – it has a section of ‘sleep stories’ recorded for adults featuring the dulcet tones of familiar voices such as Stephen Fry. The ‘Sleepiest’ app (sleepiest.com) also has a bank of favourite tales to drift off to – including The Wizard of Oz, The Jungle Book and Sherlock Holmes…. Are you still with me?
GET AS MUCH DAYLIGHT AS YOU CAN
As we age, we produce less melatonin (the sleep hormone), which can mean we struggle to sleep through the night. To help your body produce more, then it’s important to get as much natural daylight as possible – especially early in the morning. This regulates your body’s circadian rhythm – helping your body clock stay in tune with the natural rhythms of day and night. So throw open the curtains as soon as you wake, get out for a walk if you can – and if you work all day, then try to sit by a window. One study showed that office workers who did just that, had better sleep than those who worked in an office with no windows.
SAY NO TO SLEEPING PILLS
The side effects of some sleeping pills – next-day drowsiness, confusion, constipation and urinary retention – can be particularly serious for seniors. Opt for a natural sleeping aid instead. Try Bach Rescue Night® dropper, spray or liquid melts – they blend the original calming RESCUE® formula with Bach™ Original Flower Remedy White Chestnut. (from £8.49, www.rescueremedy.co.uk) and won’t leave you with drowsy after-effects the following morning.
We really should know better at our age. But it seems it’s not just teens who let social media spoil their sleep. A study by bedmaker Silentnight found that 15% of 50-64 year olds admitted to waking up in the night to check their feeds! Research has shown that the blue light emitted from phones and tablets impedes the production of melatonin – so you’re not going to feel sleepy after staring at any screen. The solution is simple. Leave your phone and tablet out of the bedroom to avoid the temptation to turn them on if you wake.
HARRASSED BY HOT FLUSHES?
The hot flushes and night sweats of the menopause can really sabotage your sleep. ‘Guided imagery’ – imagining yourself somewhere chilly can help. The Clarity app features an InstaCool session which helpfully steers you into visualising yourself somewhere cold – jumping into snow or plunging into freezing water, for example. The theory is that what your mind can picture, your body can experience. And so you cool off.
STRETCH YOURSELF TO SLEEP
Try this nice, easy stretch while sitting on the edge of the bed to help loosen a tight neck and back and prepare you for sleep. Simply sit, then fold forward at the hips, letting your head and arms dangle gently, and placing your fingers lightly around your ankles to help anchor yourself. Feel the muscles in your neck, shoulders and back lengthen and ‘unknot’ themselves. Breathing slowly and deeply, stay like this for up to 60 seconds – if at any point, it feels uncomfortable, slowly rise out of the position. In yoga, any head-below-heart pose, or inversion, is thought to calm and relax the nervous system.
by Kim Jones
222 Ways to Trick Yourself to Sleep by Kim Jones is published by Piatkus and is available in Waterstones, good book shops and online. You can read Kim’s Beauty Features here too. For more information on Kim and her writing, visit kimjoneswrites.co.uk.