A 2011 study found that meditating has a direct link to better sleep quality. By breaking your usual train of thought it’s easier to relax your body and brain, meaning that switching off becomes much easier. Experts recommend that you take 20 minutes every day to focus on your breathing and bringing your attention to the present. The practice is particularly useful when tackling insomnia triggered by stress.
A late-night snack can help boost melatonin levels when they’re most needed. Yoghurts work well as calcium helps the brain to manufacture the sleep hormone and dairy products also contain a slow-digesting protein that staves off hunger. If you want to cut the time it takes to fall asleep even further, try adding kiwi to your bowl. A study of 24 adults found that participants took 35% less time to switch off after eating the fruit for a month.
The benefits of exercise are hard to ignore. Spending just 20 minutes of your day raising your heart rate can reduce depression, aid weight loss and combat insomnia. Participants in a controlled trial from 2015 found that their insomnia symptoms significantly reduced after spending 150 minutes a week exercising. Try easing yourself into new sports activities to prevent injuries and improve your chances of forming a longer-lasting habit.
A massage may sound like a luxury, but it doesn’t have to involve an expensive spa or even a second pair of hands. There are plenty of online tutorials available to introduce you to basic techniques that you can use on your own body to reap the benefits. But a masseuse may be more suitable if you want to tackle any specific aches and pains that keep you awake at night.
Filling your room with the right smells can help ease your insomnia. You can use a diffuser with essential oils or brighten up your bedroom with a houseplant on your bedside table. Whichever you chose, you should pick scents wisely. Lavender, jasmine and vanilla are popular choices, while valerian splits opinion: its pungent scent is sometimes called ‘nature’s Valium’ and has been proven to improve sleep quality and quantity.