How to get the perfect night’s sleep

Sleep. It should be one of those beautiful words conjuring up images of huge, four poster beds piled with pillows in one of those bedrooms reminiscent of Henry VIII’s days where the bed occupied most of the room. Sleep, next to eating and drinking, is one of the most simple and instinctive needs of all. Yet for the insomniacs amongst us, sleep can become a terrifying and almost unobtainable goal. It can create a vicious and soul destroying cycle of seemingly endless, long, sleepless nights.

In Britain alone, six out of ten of us believe we get less sleep than we would like, with one in five surviving on fewer than six hours a night. It is well known that sleep is vital to the daily functioning of the brain. Whilst the odd sleepless night in times of essay hardship will not have severe repercussions on our health, in the long term sleep deprivation can lead to serious sideeffects: from hormonal imbalance and high blood pressure to obesity and diabetes. Or for the beauty conscious amongst us, lack of sleep is strongly believed to speed up the aging process. But just a few simple changes to the bedtime routine can greatly help prevent you from reaching for the Oil of Olay anti-wrinkle wonder creams just yet.

Of course, if you live next door to a nocturnal lover of all things Rock it will be a rather different matter, an issue a tad too tricky to solve, but if you do suffer from the occasional sleepless night here are a few tips on how to achieve the perfect night’s sleep. Just lie back, close your eyes and relax…

First of all caffeine has to go. Well, at least for the last couple of hours before bedtime anyway. It may seem obvious but a large proportion of intelligent young people will happily guzzle cups of tea and coffee late into the night and then ponder as to why they can’t get to sleep. That cup of steaming coffee might keep you warm before bedtime but if you’re so strapped for cash that you can’t turn on the central heating just put on an extra jumper, forget that last, late night cup and go straight to bed.

Herbal teas however are perfectly acceptable. In fact, studies show that a cup of herbal tea, particularly peppermint or camomile, can considerably increase not only your chances of getting to sleep but significantly improve the quality of sleep. Hot chocolate, or in true 1950s ‘staying at your Grandmother’s house’ style, a cup of cocoa before bed will do exactly the same and for the sweet tooth sufferers amongst us will probably taste a whole lot better. Whilst eating a monstrous dinner before bed is likely to prevent you from sleeping well, hunger can be equally as disruptive and prevent you from dosing off. Try having a small snack, such as a slice of toast or a piece of fruit, before bed to settle the body and help you sleep.

It may seem to wander dangerously close to the airy fairy, new age hippy tribe territory but sprinkling a few drops of essential oils onto the pillow before bed can seriously help sleep. Lavender is especially effective and may even be powerful enough to overpower that dreadful and rather terrifying stench that has mysteriously been emanating from an unknown source in your room.

If lavender oil is just a little too much, try tuning into Classic FM or some other calming music, although perhaps not ‘Essential calming melodies’ because if you’re not receptive to the oil suggestion I’m guessing Enya and ‘Sounds of the earth’ won’t be to your tastes either. This will quickly calm down the activities of your brain and stop you going to bed with your mind racing full of worries and thoughts about all things essay deadline related.

The hidden meanings in your sleep position

When you sink into the land of nod, your subconscious takes on a life of its own, revealing disturbing and often quite humourous reflections of your character.

We’ve all seen the Robert Winston documentaries of those slightly baffling creatures of the night, who get up to all sorts once they fall asleep. From mere sleep walking to midnight binging, dream land can be a dangerous place for some – and there’s always the one where someone lets out their pent up rage and attacks their partner in the night!

Just when you thought your dreams of killing close friends and family were weird enough, it turns out that psychologists have come up with yet another thing to analyse. Apparently our sleep position can also harbour revelations too.

The ‘Yearner’
For all you singletons out there, this is definitely not the most desirable position. Apparently yearners are suspicious and have to get all the facts before making decisions.

The ‘Starfish’
You may look like you’re being held hostage but starfishes are actually nonattention seekers, who listen to other people’s needs. So your not selfish, you’re a starfish.

The ‘Log’
Clearly no one sleeps like this, but apparently those who do are trusting and like being part of the ‘in crowd’ (although they won’t get there sleeping like this).

The ‘Freefaller’
Those who lie on their tummies at night are gregarious and lots of fun. But watch out because they don’t respond well to criticism, which is clearly obvious from this pose.

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