Sleep is so essential to both our physical and mental health. So much so studies show shift workers who work night shifts long term have an increased risk of health problems. Severe insomnia can also lead to mental health problems, while mild insomnia can contribute to low mood, stress, fatigue and irritability.
So if you’re trying to live a healthier lifestyle, looking at how well you sleep is important.
Many people believe a drink before bedtime helps them to sleep. They’re right. Alcohol acts like a sedative that can often help you fall asleep.
Unfortunately though it’s not the right type of sleep. It often prevents you going into the deeper stages of sleep that are so essential to you waking up full of energy in the morning. One study showed that even drinking alcohol six hours before bedtime has an impact on the quality of sleep.
No more sleeping like a baby
As we get older, our sleeping patterns can change and older people tend to wake up more. The deep sleep we often see in babies starts to disappear and it becomes rare to sleep through the night.
Alcohol increases this waking up effect and research shows it makes getting back to sleep harder. So the insomnia gets worse as you wake up more and find it harder to get back to sleep. Some people start upping their night time tipple to overcome this, but this usually makes the insomnia worse.
The more alcohol you drink the worse the insomnia gets and studies that people who have a long time physical dependence on alcohol can really have problems with sleeping.
If you’ve been drinking heavily every night for a long time, and suddenly stop, it can actually make insomnia much worse. Medical support may be needed. You might find this link helpful if you have any concerns that you may be physically dependent on alcohol.
Jasmine tea is a natural sedative
A good natural alternative to using alcohol as a sleeping pill is Jasmine tea. This is widely available and is often sold as Jasmine green tea.
Make the tea with boiling water and simmer gently in a saucepan for 15 minutes. You can make enough for three days as it will stay fresh in the fridge. Reheat gently on the hob not in a microwave.
Other Tips for helping insomnia include
- Take exercise you enjoy
- Make a list of things you need to do the next day
- Keep a notepad beside your bed. If you do wake up thinking about all you have to do, you can jot it down on a notepad
- Make sure your bedroom is cool and tidy. Clutter in the bedroom affects your mental state
- Make sure your bed is comfortable.
- Use meditation techniques. You can try out headspace.com a well known programme for free.
- Drink caffeine late in the evening
- Eat a large meal late in the evening
- Watch violent or disturbing programmes just before you go to bed. Ideally stop watching TV and hour before you go to bed
- Use electronic devices just before going to bed