A sheep count that stretches into the hundreds and nothing but noise pounding our ears. Not being able to get to sleep is frustrating and according to new research published in the British Medical Journal, can lead to an unhealthy outcome.
The study, conducted at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institute, shows that living on a main road can contribute to weight gain, cardiovascular risk and a host of other potential health problems. Exposure to a combination of noise from road traffic, trains and planes poses the greatest risk by breaking up people's sleeping pattern which in turn can influence their metabolic and cardiovascular functions.
This all sounds like a pressing case to invest in double glazed windows for a better night's sleep, but failing that solution, try these instead:
Foods that make you sleepy
Oatmeal: It might be your choice of breakfast, but actually the grains in oatmeal trigger insulin production which makes you feel sleepy.
Almonds: They contain tryptophan and magnesium, which help to naturally reduce muscle and nerve function while also steadying your heart rhythm.
Honey: Have a teaspoon of this before bed to shut off the alertness chemical, orexin.
Cherries: These are a great source of melatonin, the chemical your body releases when it's ready for sleep.
Dark Chocolate: You can still have your favourite dessert, just make sure it's dark. Unfortunately milk chocolate contains tyrosine which is converted into the stimulant, dopamine. Whereas dark choclate contains serotonin, which relaxes your body and mind.
Bananas: The magnesium and potassium in bananas relax your muscles and nerves, while the vitamin B6 converts tryptophan into serotonin to relax you even more.
Products that make you sleepy
Spray This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray, £16 before putting your head on your pillow. It's infused with essential oils of Lavender, Vetivert and Wild Camomile to soothe your body and mind as you breathe it in.
Rub Uma Pure Rest Wellness Oil, £60 in between your toes and massage the bottom of your feet for 2 - 3 minutes. The extracts of Centella Asiatica, Bacopa Monnieri, Acorus Calamus, Convolvulus Pluricaulis, Sida Cordifolia and Jojoba Oil help to relax your muscles, get rid of anxiety and promote a deep, recuperative sleep.
Put 4 drops of Bach Rescue Night Drops, £7.99 directly onto your tongue a few minutes before you go to bed. The flower essences of Rock Rose, Impatiens, Clematis, Star of Bethlehem, Cherry Plum and White Chestnut help switch off your mind. Make sure you use them after you brush your teeth, because you'll have to avoid water for a few minutes after use.
If you're a hot sleeper (even in winter), put a Chillow, £27 under your pillow case. Research shows that approximately 55% of people turn over or moving their pillow in order to find a cool spot during the night, interrupting their natural sleep patterns in the process. It's cool, not cold.
Habits that make you sleepy
Practice a bedtime ritual. A relaxing routine will get you in the mood to catch some zzzz's.
Avoid bright lights. Late in the evening, your body releases the chemical melatonin, which makes you sleepy—but only if it gets the right cues from your environment.
Don't look at your phone. It's tempting to check instagram while you lie in bed, but the blue light inhibits the sleep inducing hormone, melatonin and disrupts our circadian rythms. Power down all electronics 2 hours before your bedtime and slow down your brain by doing something calming, like reading in a comfy chair.