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Having trouble sleeping? 

A study conducted in 2015  looked at sleep patterns among adults in 16 of Europe's countries and discovered insomnia being a widespread problem. In Poland about 31% wrestled with insomnia symptoms like difficulty falling asleep, waking in the middle of the night, or tiredness during the day, followed by Hungary (28.1%) and France (28%). 

While researchers suspect that the discrepancies between the countries might stem from cultural differences of how “sleep problems” are defined, the numbers are still surprisingly high. 

That means that up to one third of a nation sleeps poorly, at least occasionally! 

Here are some simple steps that you can take to improve your sleep. 

1. Stick to a daily routine 

This point might sound simple and a bit boring, but it's considered one of the most important aspects of overall health by many health experts, especially those representing traditional healing modalities. 

If you take a look at ancient medicine systems like Ayurveda or Traditional Chinese Medicine, they all seem to be recommending the same thing: a regular and harmonious lifestyle built around daily routines. 

What does that mean for your sleep?

Try to wake up and go to bed at the same time each day, even during the weekends. While it´s tempting to sleep late on free days, it can actually disturb your sleep pattern in the following work week and eventually lead to a vicious circle of tiredness/oversleeping. 

The benefits of a regular lifestyle extend far beyond better sleep. Following a daily routine has been found to reduce stress, aid mental health and support a healthy digestion. 

2. Reduce screen time in the evening 

Another frequently mentioned expert tip is reducing screen time one hour before bed. The blue light emitted by your cell phone screen is known to restrain the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle (aka circadian rhythm). The result? Difficulties falling asleep. 

If cutting down on screen time is difficult you can also try special blue-light-blocking glasses. A study published in 2017 conclude

The use of short wavelength‐blocking glasses at night increased subjectively measured sleep quality and objectively measured melatonin levels and sleep duration, presumably as a result of decreased night‐time stimulation of ipRGCs.

3. Declutter your sleeping environment 

This is another tip that might sound ridiculously simple. 

But as Marie Kondo puts it: "It's a very strange phenomenon, but when we reduce what we own and essentially 'detox' our house, it has a detox effect on our bodies as well."

If your bedroom is messy and packed with stuff, it is likely to impact your mind negatively. Think about it: If you are sleeping next to a pile of work documents or bills, you're probably more likely to worry about them before sleep which then adds to your stress and prevents you from relaxing. 

It's also common that the bedroom becomes a dumping ground for laundry and other household items - quite  the opposite of a  peaceful retreat that supports peaceful sleep, isn't it? 

Our tip: The internet is full of helpful decluttering tips. Find a method that works for you and find a suitable date for your clean-up mission. In addition: Make sure that your sleeping environment is cool and dark. 

4. Calm your mind with meditation

 

Meditation is a great way to “clean” your mind before sleep and let go of stress or worries of the day. 

The effectiveness of meditation has been proven by several studies and confirmed by thousands of people that practice meditation or yoga - plus it's totally free! 

There's also interesting research that suggests practicing Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep) on a regular basis can support healthy sleep. 

5. Try aromatherapy  

Aromatherapy is an easy, safe and effective way to support good sleep. One of the most studied essential oils in this context is lavender oil. 

Lavender is believed to relieve stress, anxiety and even mild forms of pain. It is also a popular ingredient of various supplements that were designed to support better sleep. In fact, it is even used in many hospitals and nursing homes. 

Here's how to use it: 

  • Diffuse a few drops of lavender essential oil in your bedroom before sleep or during the night (use an ultrasonic aroma diffuser)  
  • Apply a drop or two of essential oil on your temples, wrists or neck before bedtime.
  • Sprinkle a few drops on a piece of tissue and tuck it under your pillow. 
  • If you don't like the smell of lavender: Rub a few drops of lavender oil under your feet and cover them with socks. 

Other essential oils known for their calming effects include Chamomile, Ylang Ylang or Frankincense. The best way to find out what works for you is to test it. 

The good advantage compared to sleeping pills is that essential oils (or supplements that include essential oils) are natura, safel and don't lead to addiction. 

Make essential oils part of your bedtime routine to consciously calm down after a busy day. 

6. Limit alcohol and stimulants like caffeine 

Certain stimulants like caffeine can have a disruptive effect on your sleep. 

In fact, research suggests that caffeine can disrupt the circadian rhythm — the internal clock that tells the body when to sleep and when to wake up. 

In order to avoid such effects, experts recommend not to exceed four cups of coffee per day and avoid caffeine after 4 pm - assuming your regular bed time is around 10 pm. 

Tip: If you are drinking lots of coffee throughout the day and feel tired all the time the reason could be excess caffeine. Keep this in mind when making adjustments to your daily routine! 

Sleep is important for health 

Investing in good sleep is one of the best things that you can do for your immune system and overall wellbeing. Getting adequate not only enables the body to repair and rejuvenate, it also helps prevent excess weight gain, heart disease, and other health issues. 

Oftentimes the solution to good sleep lies in simple yet powerful lifestyle changes. The first step to better sleep includes reducing stress wherever possible - in your schedule but also in your physical surroundings.  

“Sleep is the Swiss army knife of health. When sleep is deficient, there is sickness and disease. And when sleep is abundant, there is vitality and health.” - Matthew Walker, scientist 



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