Expert Sleep Advice On How to Fall Asleep Naturally
Falling asleep in theory should be easy, but for many it’s certainly not. We live in a world that knows only one speed, and that’s fast. From the moment we get up to the time we go to bed we’re still connected to technology and wonder why we can’t ‘just’ fall asleep.
This has led millions of exasperated, sleep deprived people to search repeatedly 'how to fall asleep'. It seems such a simple quest, yet eludes so many of us.
If your busy mind is leaving you unable to fall asleep, our sleep expert Anandi gives her advice on how to fall asleep naturally...
Why can’t I fall asleep easily?
Sleep is a natural process brought about by the sleep hormone melatonin. When the sunlight goes down, it’s a signal to the body to produce melatonin which is responsible for onset of sleep.
Melatonin imbalances are largely responsible for sleep disturbances, and it’s strongly influenced by day length, artificial light, electromagnetic energy as well as stress and overwork. If you are still on your computer, tablet or phone late in the evening, it will be affecting your ability to fall asleep. Blue light from these devices is well documented to block natural melatonin production.
Melatonin is made in the body from serotonin which is made from a substance called tryptophan. The full process looks like this: Tryptophan --> 5HTP --> Serotonin --> Melatonin. The feel good hormone serotonin helps anxiety so your mind is more at ease.
What happens to our bodies when we don’t get enough sleep?
Unfortunately, nothing affects us like the lack of sleep. Sleep is fundamental to health and your ability to get on with your life. While you are sleeping, your brain processes the day’s events through "REM sleep" and your body rejuvenates and repairs through "deep sleep". If you’re not getting enough of either, your physical and mental health will be at risk.
Lack of focus and concentration, feeling exhausted and anxious all day, and running on zero energy will put a strain on all the systems of the body.
In the long term, the clinical consequences of untreated sleep disorders are very serious and are associated with numerous serious medical illnesses, including high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and depression.
I truly believe that lack of sleep for long periods of time can be deadly.
It’s all too easy to get a sleeping pill these days. In fact, there are 10 million prescriptions for sleep medication handed out each year by the UK's National Health Service. The problem with using sleep medication is that you don’t actually change the very thing that is causing the sleep issue, you just mask it.
The natural supplement (natural sleeping pills) route may take longer, but it’s the safest path to take. It’s important to remember that by taking the natural route, you’re committing to changing the very thing that caused the sleep issue in the first place.
Making the decision to turn technology off early in the evening and giving yourself time to wind down must be part of the treatment. In fact, even natural sleeping pills are unlikely to work if you don’t make these lifestyle changes. Supplementing with tryptophan based sleeping pills to enable the body to make sufficient melatonin, together with magnesium which relaxes the brain will go a long way to resolving a sleep issue.
What should I do when I lay awake for hours and can’t fall asleep?
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we just can’t sleep. Lying in bed and worrying about how to fall asleep only seems to push sleep further and further away from us.
If you’ve been lying there for what seems like forever, try the following:
- Get up and make a small chamomile tea (too much liquid and you will need to break your sleep again for the toilet). Don’t turn on bright lights, if possible use candles. Quietly drink the tea in your favourite comfortable chair.
- When you’ve finished your tea, sit with your spine straight, set your timer for 15 mins and concentrate on your breath. If the mind wanders off (which it will), just bring it back to the breath.
- Go back to bed, lay on your back and continue to follow the breath, when it feels right, just let go and allow yourself to move into your natural sleeping position.
How natural sleeping pills can help if you can’t sleep
If your body is not producing enough of the sleep hormones naturally, it’s worth supplementing with natural sleeping pills. I love Neuro Rest because it contains not just tryptophan, but also magnesium which is connected to your brain’s ability to relax and the parasympathetic nervous system. If the mind can’t relax, it will interfere with the melatonin production.
I recommend taking Neuro Rest at least 30 minutes before bed to give the body time to convert the natural ingredients to melatonin. Remember, your body needs enough tryptophan to start the process of converting from 5HTP to serotonin to melatonin.
Sleep Expert: Anandi’s advice on how to take natural sleeping pills
When taking natural sleeping pills:
- Make sure you turn off technology early in the evening, even if you are supplementing, the blue light will block the production of melatonin.
- Start with the small dose and build up to the full dose, you may find you only need the small dose.
- Eat light in the evening, a full stomach of food will inhibit your ability to fall and stay asleep.
- Stay away from alcohol in the evening if you are struggling with sleep.
- Get the lights on low, or better still light candles.