• Cara Fielden

Sleep aids: The Sleep Geek's do’s and don'ts

We’re just as shocked as you are to hear that a whopping 82% of Brits have experienced insomnia, and half of the UK population consider themselves to be poor sleepers. Our jaws are literally on the floor. So surely there’s a gap in the market here? Well, not for The Sleep Geek. Our sleep expert James Wilson genuinely cares about people’s wellbeing, and (we believe) he holds all the secrets to better sleep. But there are companies and products out there that could potentially help us to sleep better - we see them on the telly, on Instagram and hear people chatting about them in coffee shops, but do they work? Read on to find out James’ thoughts on it all.



CBD oil

CBD has been on the rise in recent years, and it has especially become a bit of a trend in the wellness space. It’s been applauded for its ability to reduce anxiety and help people sleep better. But hold those horses, don’t you think we should be consulting with The Sleep Geek himself before we make such brave claims? Whilst research into CBD seems to show that it can help to ease the anxiousness that might keep us up at night, James says that we need to be aware of a couple of things. Firstly that dosage amount is important, as too little CBD can have the opposite effect of what we want and stimulate us, so it should be a dose of about 50mg. James adds, “From my experience, it works better if it is taken on a regular basis, which is why it could work more effectively as part of a nighttime routine. Using it with other products or activities can be useful in helping us wind down and create the right mindset to drift off to sleep.”


Audio

There are hundreds of thousands of millions of sleep tracks and playlists out there - music, spoken word, ASMR and soundscapes. There’s something for everyone for sure, but will it help us sleep better? Well, the research surely seems to think so - depending on what type of course. If you’re listening to heavy metal music or an intense murder investigating podcast, you probably won’t find yourself hitting the hay anytime soon. James suggests listening to soothing sounds that make you feel more relaxed, helping to drop that heart rate of yours - something that needs to take place in order for us to fall asleep.


Here at Beingwell, some of our members love sleep meditations and rainforest sounds, why not give it a go tonight?

Valerian Root

When we’re struggling to sleep, many of us reach for natural remedies to try and solve the issue. Valerian Root is one of the most popular remedies, but the evidence is mixed on whether it is effective in improving our sleep. The AASM (or American Association of Sleep Medicine) does not recommend natural remedies like Valerian Root due to the evidence not being strong enough to show a significant improvement in sleep. However, some studies have shown it can have a positive impact on sleep and the anxiety that prevents us from sleeping. Some proof has also shown that it can impact other conditions that contribute to poor sleep, like hot flashes, hyperactivity and tension headaches! James says, from his experience of working with poor sleepers, people often find that Valerian Root has a positive impact when they first start taking it, but gradually it loses its effectiveness. Perhaps more of a placebo effect?



Melatonin

Just so we all know where we stand, melatonin is a prescribed substance in the UK, and should only be obtained in consultation with a doctor. However, in other parts of the world it is less controlled and here in the UK, lots of people take it as an aid to sleep. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that is important to the process of preparing the body for sleep. In simple terms, it tells the body that it’s dark, and that it can start winding down for sleep. Although, there are issues with using it for a couple of reasons.


Firstly, if your issue is that you cannot fall asleep due to stress and anxiety, melatonin is unlikely to work. It is useful to people who have a melatonin deficiency (which can also be helped by exposure to daylight early in the day), or some people find it effective when they have jet lag from travelling long distances.


Secondly, most melatonin supplements are 2.5-5mg in terms of dose and this is far more than your body produces naturally. So those using melatonin supplements are often overdosing the body, and the body gets used to this overdose and this can cause problems when we stop taking the melatonin and our melatonin production returns to normal levels. And by using appropriate sleep aids to help us to drop our core temperature and heart rate, the likelihood is that we don’t need a prescription of melatonin, unless we are severely struggling with insomnia - in these circumstances, seek medical advice from your GP.



Sunshine alarm clock/natural light

When it comes to sleeping and waking up, our body has a natural clock called the circadian rhythm. Without delving into too much detail, it’s what tells our body it’s time to sleep and wake up. One way our body knows that it’s time to wake up is through natural light, dating back to when we didn’t have alarm clocks and instead based the time off of the sunlight. So exposing ourselves to natural light as soon as we wake up can be really good for our sleep schedule. However, we understand that in the dark and dreary winters of the UK, that’s not always possible. A popular trend in the wellness sphere has been the invention of sunshine alarm clocks, so that we can wake up with a mimic of the natural sunrise that can help our body adjust to the day. The Sleep Geek says this can be a great way to get the light exposure that our body needs to get a consistent sleep routine.


What’s the secret? Building these things into our routine, whether it’s all of them at once (good luck!) or individually, can help us to create a better environment and wind-down for sleeping. If you just rely on one of these aids to help you sleep, the chances are you won’t find the results you are probably so desperately searching for! The Sleep Geek recommends firstly working out what kind of a sleeper you are, understanding that a bit better, and then implementing things into your day to help assist you with your sleep. How does that sound?