Are you someone who struggles to sleep at night?
The right amount of sleep is so important for brain and body function. It also contributes to your overall health and your body's ability to repair and restore itself.
A good sleep routine and a healthy lifestyle can massively improve your sleep quality, and you can absorb many of the essential vitamins and minerals needed for productive sleeping patterns through a healthy diet.
As long-term sleep deprivation can lead to chronic diseases such as heart disease, strokes, obesity, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease - establishing a good sleep routine is incredibly important to your long-term health.
At Discount Supplements, we understand how frustrating it can be to have a restless night's sleep, so in this guide, we've put together our top tips on helping you improve your sleep. From the best ways to enhance your sleep routine to the vitamins and minerals to supplement a healthy sleep schedule, you'll be left saying, "sweet dreams" to sleepless nights!
Table of contents:
Why can't I sleep at night?
How to sleep better
What vitamins should I take to help me sleep?
Why can't I sleep at night?
According to NHS Inform, as many as 1 in 3 people in the UK have insomnia, which is caused by several factors, including stress and anxiety, a poor sleep environment, lifestyle factors such as alcohol or drug use, mental and physical health conditions and medication.
Whilst it isn't always clear what the root cause of insomnia or sleepless nights is, there are some changes that you can make to your lifestyle that should, with time, contribute to the length and quality of your sleep.
How to get to sleep
- Most sleep-related problems are stress-induced, so take time to relax before bed. Whether you listen to music, take a bath, journal or write a to-do list for the day ahead, you'll prepare your body for a restful sleep.
- Routine is key, so be rigid about when you go to bed to help programme your body to sleep and wake at a certain time.
- Stay away from your phone, television or devices that emit blue light an hour before bedtime, as the light from these devices suppresses melatonin, the hormone that helps you relax for sleep.
- Establish a restful environment that you can relax and ultimately sleep in. Keep your room at the optimal sleep temperature of 16 to 18 degrees, remove any clutter and create a space that is a haven for rest. Darkness helps promote sleep, so if you have a light room, invest in blackout blinds or a sleep mask to encourage your body to sleep.
- Avoid clock-watching. It's better to lie in bed awake and relaxed than in a restless state checking the clock. If you can't help yourself from doing so, turn the clock towards the wall or move it to the other side of the room where you can't see it.
- Avoid eating spicy foods, large meals or alcohol before bed. Sugary foods can cause your energy to spike and crash, affecting your body clock, so these should also be avoided before bed. Similarly, caffeine can create restlessness, so avoid drinking caffeinated drinks in the afternoon.
- Sleep quality is just as vital as the time you spend sleeping. Five stages of sleep are experienced roughly five times per night in a cycle, and the latter stages are when information is processed. Getting up regularly through the night can disrupt this cycle, so avoid drinking too many liquids before bed.
How to sleep better
The best way to improve your sleep is to establish a sleep schedule alongside the tips above. The 10-3-2-1-0 method is a great way to prepare your body for sleep, leading to improved sleep quality.
What is the 10-3-2-1-0 method?
The 10-3-2-1-0 method involves modifying your routine with different activities, ultimately leading to a better sleep routine.
Each number in the sequence represents the hours before sleep that you should undertake each task to better prepare your body for sleep.
10 hours before sleep
Relaxation begins here! This is the time of the day when you should stop having caffeine. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
3 hours before sleep
Ensure you've eaten your final meal of the day, so avoid having more food or alcohol after this point. You should be hydrated by this time, but drink water if you're still thirsty. Avoid drinking too much before bed, which could interrupt your sleep cycle.
If you plan to exercise, avoid doing anything too vigorous or strenuous and opt for relaxing exercises such as Yoga.
2 hours before sleep
Spend some time doing relaxing activities two hours before sleep. Journaling can be a good practice to address any anxieties or worries. Finally, ensure your bedroom is ready for sleep, considering the temperature and removing distractions.
1 hour before bedtime
This is your opportunity to teach your body that it's time to wind down. Choose soothing activities such as reading or meditation, and avoid anything that could stimulate your mind.
Avoid blue light completely an hour before bedtime.
0 hours - the final minutes before bedtime
This is the time to sleep. Make sure there aren't any noises or lights that could keep you awake. If you can't sleep immediately, give yourself time to relax.
If you have difficulty sleeping or suffer from insomnia, you may need to give the 10-3-2-1-0 method time. With patience alongside breathing exercises and mindfulness, eventually, you'll break any past bad sleeping habits. The best way to achieve sleep success is to stick to your newly established routine to programme your body and teach it when it needs to wind down.
A sleep journal is a great way to monitor your progress with the 10-3-2-1-0 method. Record your wakeup and sleep times, and note how often you woke up through the night and how you felt the following day so you can tweak your new routine as you go.
What vitamins should I take to help me sleep?
Although a good sleep routine, a relaxing space and a healthy diet promote better sleep, getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals your body needs, such as Vitamin D, Vitamin B6, Magnesium, and Calcium from diet alone, is not always easy.
If you're doing the right things but still struggling to grab forty winks, you may need to look at your intake of certain vitamins and minerals to see if you're getting enough. Here are the vitamins and minerals that will improve your sleep;
Vitamin D intake is vital in how well and how long we sleep.
Circadian rhythms are 24-hour cycles in the body that carry out necessary functions and processes as part of the body's internal clock - one of the most important of these rhythms is our wake and sleep cycle, and Vitamin D plays a huge part in its effectiveness.
Because Vitamin D is created naturally in the body when the skin absorbs sunlight, it helps to aid this circadian rhythm to keep the body's clock and sleep cycles running in sync. When this happens, and the processes run in sync, the body will benefit from more consistent, peaceful and restorative sleep. Still, when these processes are thrown off, problems like insomnia can occur.
Vitamin D deficiency is also linked to a reduced sleep duration - so it's important to get plenty if you're hoping for a deep, long, restful sleep.
To improve your Vitamin D levels, your body needs just 10 minutes of exposure to the sun per day (remember to protect your skin from its harmful UV rays by wearing sunscreen). Vitamin D is also present in eggs, fatty fish such as salmon and tuna and fortified foods, including cereals, fresh orange juice, or Vitamin D supplements.
If taking Vitamin D supplements, you shouldn't need a dosage of more than 10mcg (micrograms) per day and should never take more than 100mcg daily, as long-term overdosing could lead to kidney and heart problems.
B vitamins are important as they help the body produce tryptophan. This amino acid converts into serotonin to help regulate the body's melatonin levels, also known as the sleep hormone. A lack of Vitamin B6 is linked to depression and insomnia through unregulated serotonin levels and melatonin.
Vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, is also involved in many functions in the body, including immune health and cognitive development. It also helps the body to form haemoglobin, a substance found in red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body.
Vitamin B6 is a real hero and an important part of our everyday lives that should be relatively easy to absorb from a healthy diet. You can find Vitamin B6 in poultry, pork, fish, soya beans, peanuts, bananas, milk, fortified breakfast cereals and oats.
If you'd rather take vitamin B supplements, be careful with your dosage, taking no more than 10mg of vitamin B6 per day unless otherwise instructed by a health professional.
Magnesium is a human body hero. Used in hundreds of processes, it's the mineral that helps the brain function, assists heart health and turns food into energy.
When it comes to sleeping, much like vitamin B6, magnesium helps to regulate melatonin production, so your body knows exactly when to sleep. It also increases the levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid, a chemical in the brain that boosts relaxation and sleep.
Easily found in a healthy diet, foods such as spinach, leafy greens, nuts and wholemeal bread all contain good magnesium levels. Most magnesium supplements contain other sleep-promoting agents, such as low levels of melatonin and glycerine, which can all work together to improve your quality of sleep and the amount of sleep you have. Remember to stay within the daily guidelines of 350mg (any more than that could cause problems such as diarrhoea).
These Magnesium Supplements from Effectiv Nutrition also contain Vitamin B6 and Zinc, all known for their sleep-promoting qualities.
Calcium promotes teeth and bone health, and it combines with tryptophan to produce melatonin, which is essential for sleep.
Found in dairy products such as milk and cheese, leafy greens, bread and fish with soft bones such as salmon, it's not difficult to take in the correct calcium levels as part of your healthy, balanced diet.
However, you can also take calcium supplements to increase that all-important melatonin, and you should aim for around 700 mg per day from your diet. Avoid taking more than 1500 mg daily, as this could lead to stomach pain and diarrhoea.
Now that you're armed with all the knowledge to improve your sleep, here are a few takeaways.
Restful, good-quality sleep comes from a well-established sleep routine that has conditioned your body to know when to sleep and wake. A good routine can be built around the 10-3-2-1-0 rule, which can help even those who have insomnia and sleep deprivation overcome sleeping difficulties.
Vitamins D, B6, magnesium, and calcium can all help improve your sleep, but it's important to look at your sleep routine and diet first for ways to improve your sleep before relying solely on supplements.
For the areas of your diet where you find it difficult to add these essentials, taking supplements can give you the boost you need to aid your body's natural functions, processes and sleeping patterns. Stay within the recommended daily amounts and consult your GP for any questions or concerns before adding new supplements to your diet.
Explore our collection of sleep-promoting supplements by shopping the links above to help transform your sleeping pattern, or explore our complete wellbeing range for all the essentials to enhance your healthy diet and lifestyle.