7 in 10 People Are Suffering From Sleep Deprivation
While sleeping requirements may vary between individuals, experts suggest that the average adult needs a minimum of 7 hours sleep every night and, according to the Great British Sleep Report, only 3 in 10 of us are managing to get the 7 hours a night needed to maintain a healthy, functioning brain and body:
7% of us get less than 5 hours sleep
33% of us get 5-6 hours sleep
30% of us get 6-7 hours sleep
If you tend to think of sleep as a state of brain and body shut down, think again. Sleep is the natural process in which our brain actively eliminates toxins, repairs tissue, grows muscle and synthesises hormones. It's a process of restoration and rejuvenation necessary for our health and wellbeing.
Though there remains some mystery around the mechanics of why and how we sleep, we now have a firm understanding that neglecting sleep can have significant consequences on both our brain and body. These include an increased risk of stress, anxiety and depression, as well as a cognitive impairment of attention, concentration and problem-solving skills. Studies have also linked sleep deprivation to an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease in later life.
So, from effective ways to induce sleep to powerful sleep supplements, we're here to share some natural sleep remedies to help you drift easier and sleep better.
Five Natural Sleep Remedies
In 2017, The Nobel Prize for medicine was awarded to a team of American sleep researchers, thanks to their unlocking of the master genes that control our internal body clocks – scientifically know as the 'Circadian Rhythm'. The scientists revealed that the genes stimulate activity in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) part of the brain, which connects to our eyes and the pineal gland.
In a perfect world, this floods the brain with melatonin to elicit deep and restful sleep – switching on at night and off during the day. In our version of reality, modern life and and technology are often at odds with nature, hijacking our DNA and triggering our genes to express themselves in potentially negative ways – including poor sleep patterns – it's time to make a very important decision on where sleep sits on your priority list.
Here are five simple ways to sync-in with your body clock, to help you drift off quickly, improve sleep quality and wake-up feeling fully-charged to win the day.
1. Stretch For Deeper Sleep
Many studies have reported that regular yoga can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, decrease sleep disturbances and increase its quality. One key reason for Yoga's long-term sleep-inducing effects is the toning of the vagus nerve, which helps to calm the subconscious nervous system, reduces stress levels and promotes feelings of wellbeing. One particularly effective Yoga pose to aid sleep, is the Plow Pose (Halasana) – give it a go!
Relaxation techniques such as yoga, journaling and meditation will also help you get the best out of any sleep supplements you're using – making it the perfect natural sleep remedy to add to your night-time regime.
2. Create A Natural Sleep Setting
Anyone who has ventured abroad and slept in a bedroom with traditionally shuttered windows, can testify to the surreal feeling of darkness and the exquisite sleep that tends to follow. While 'getting away from it all' may have something to do with it, invariably, so does the darkness.
We now know that the suprachiasmatic nucleus part of the brain plays a key role in regulating our internal body clocks – a process strongly influenced by changes in the light that reaches your retina and in-turn stimulates the pineal gland to secrete sleep-critical melatonin. Modern life, inclusive of lighting and technology, is at war with nature, confusing our internal body clocks and leaving us wide awake when we should be drifting to sleep.
Science links a lack of bedroom darkness with many acute and chronic health problems – so it's something to take seriously. Indeed, in March 2018 the American Journal of Epidemiology reported that if your bedroom has more than five 'lux' of light, it increases your risk of depression (one lux is equivalent to the amount of light that a candle shines from one meter away).
Implement the tips below to align with nature:
- Try and get outside in the morning light to re-programme your body clock
- Start dimming internal lights in the evening
- Avoid technology/use night modes
- Use shutout blinds or thick curtains to block external lights
- Don't use digital alarm clocks with LED displays
- Switch off night lights
- Unplug bedroom technology with any lighting
- Take a sleep supplement to help you fall asleep quicker
3. Read More. Sleep Easier.
While your ritual of watching back-to-back episodes of Vikings on Netflix may seem to help you fall asleep on the sofa, opting for Game of Thrones on audio may be a better sleep remedy for high-quality shut eye. The blue light emitted from the television can interfere with melatonin release, making your sleep less effective. In contrast, audio books can be listened to darkness, taking you into a dream state that's rich in melatonin. Sit back by candle light, with a cup of relaxing herbal tea, take a natural sleep supplement such as our Drift, and enjoy a few chapters of these perfect pre-sleep audio books:
- The Alchemist
- Game of Thrones
- Shoe Dog
- The Graveyard Book
4. The Best Sleep Supplement? Try Eating
Nothing gets keyboard warriors and scientists up for debate like the topic of 'eating before bed' – with some adamant that it leads to weight gain and sleep disruption, and others claiming the opposite. However, this is where a little Buddhist style philosophy comes in handy – because the 'middle way' might lead to the best of both worlds in the land of sleep.
In truth, research suggests that a light, pre-sleep snack (typically around 60 minutes pre-bed) is best. Fuelling sleep with a serving of carbohydrates, some protein and a little healthy fat such as omega-3 can positively affect sleep patterns and may offer benefits including better cardiovascular health.
Light pre-sleep snack ideas:
- Protein cookie and small glass of milk
- Tablespoon of almond butter on wholemeal toast
- Piece of fruit and tablespoon of peanut butter
- Half cup of cereal/oats with milk and some protein powder
- Half cup of Greek yoghurt and blueberries
Pre-sleep snacking – what's the secret?
Consuming a small amount of carbohydrates before bed stimulates a healthy blood sugar and insulin release, helping sooth the nervous system and promoting sleep-promoting tryptophan uptake in the brain. Adding some protein and healthy fats helps stabilise blood sugar. However, moderation is the key, with 150 to 300 calories ideal for most people; high calorie meals and those high in fat are likely to adversely affect digestion, fat storage and sleep patterns.
That said, if you exercise intensely in the evening, risks of gaining weight due to eating carbohydrates are unfounded. While it may be wise to opt for a protein cookie, the childhood ritual of cookies and milk before bed may have substance to it.
While there's no substitute for fuelling your brain with important food groups, there are a number of natural sleep remedies out there formulated with essential vitamins and plant-based extracts to help you fall asleep quicker, and wake-up feeling refreshed. Just make sure to choose a sleep supplement that offers scientifically proven, non-synthetic ingredients.
Not sure what to look for? Check out our Drift.
5. Stay Social. Sleep Better.
The paradox for insomniacs is that the harder they focus on trying to get to sleep – the wider awake they seem to become! Similarly, for the lucky naturals who manage to drift off during a thunder storm, their secret is often that they're innately relaxed and don't have over-active minds. One excellent, natural sleep remedy is to get a good dose of positive social interaction – something scientists have associated with sleep quality and duration.
Of course, sometimes in life, relationships break down and are at the root of stress and sleepless nights, but during these times, phoning a loved one, joining a social group or meeting friends can be the help you need to sleep soundly. Positive social interaction is strongly correlated with long-term health, and its influence on sleep is a big reason why. So, while it might not be an instant insomnia cure, combining this with other natural sleep remedies is certainly the way to go.
The Power of Natural Sleep Remedies
Make the tips above habits and you'll start becoming more in-sync with your natural body clock – leading to noticeably better sleep, particularly when used alongside an effective sleep supplement
Looking for one with nature ingredients and plant exacts proven to help induce sleep? You can choose a natural sleep remedy formulation right here.
Kent, R., et al. 2015. Social Relationships and Sleep Quality. Published in: Ann Behav Med.
Kinsey, W., et al. 2015. The Health Impact of Nighttime Eating: Old and New Perspectives. Published in: Nutrients.
Obayashi, K., et al. 2018. Bedroom Light Exposure at Night and the Incidence of Depressive Symptoms: A Longitudinal Study of the HEIJO-KYO Cohort. Published in: American Journal of Epidemi.
Mangesh, A.. et al. 2013. Impact of long term Yoga practice on sleep quality and quality of life in the elderly. Published in: J Ayurveda Integr Med.