Up until the end of last year, I was working shifts including a block of 7 nights every 6 weeks, so my body clock tended to be all over the place. Since then, even though I’ve been trying to maintain a reasonably regular bedtime routine, I’ve struggled to get to sleep and frequently wake at least once during the night. Then come morning, I’m grumpy because I still feel tired. So I was very pleased to be offered a free sleep goody pack from Nytol.
So I popped along to Boots to buy a packet of the Nytol Herbal Simply Sleep One-a-Night. This consisted of 21 tablets, currently at an RRP of £5.99, for which the recommended dose is one tablet, 30 – 60 minutes before bedtime. The tablets contain Valerian root extract, traditionally used for decades to induce sleep and promote calmness. The packet does warn you that as the effects may not occur immediately, the tablets should be taken continuously for 2-4 weeks. I decided to take the full packet before telling you what I thought of them.
I hadn’t heard of Valerian root and my initial reaction on opening the packet was that I didn’t particular like the smell of the tablets. But no problem, swallow it quickly. The first two nights that I took them coincided with particularly bad headaches and unfortunately they didn’t help me to sleep better. But after that, things improved significantly and I found I was soon sleeping through the night without waking. What a bonus. However I don’t want to take sleeping tablets on a regular basis, so I was pleased to note that Nytol products are aimed at relieving temporary sleep disturbances and helping you get back into a healthy sleeping rhythm.
One of the other things that can bug me when I’m struggling to sleep, is if my partner is snoring away. It just makes it so much harder for me to get to sleep. Luckily he doesn’t snore every night. So when I saw the Anti-Snoring throat spray, I asked him to test it out, but sadly he refused, so I can’t comment on how effective that is. However a 50ml pack is available from pharmacies and grocery stores with an RRP of £12.99 currently.
Both these Nytol products are only suitable for those aged over 18 years.
And finally I must tell you about the Lifebee Wake Up Light alarm clock. I was surprised that I had to install batteries (not included) but apparently this is just for a backup power source in case the electricity is down. However what was slightly more disappointing was that its power adaptor was missing. Luckily it also came with a USB cable, so I have been using that instead. The Lifebee has both a sunrise wake up light simulation and a sunset light, with a choice of 6 different nature sounds or radio for the alarm. It also has a full spectrum of colour choices for the light. I tried them all, but settled on the basic white as my preferred choice. I do like these type of products. We already have a Lumie Bodyclock which I mentioned on my blog last year, so this one will now be going in my son’s room.
6 things to do in the 30 minutes before bed to help get a better night’s sleep.
With a constant bombardment of emails, texts and social media alerts via our mobile devices keeping us plugged in for longer, the Nytol sleep study (carried out in December 2017) reveals that nearly half of us admit that we now have no bedtime routine at all, or that our current routines could be improved significantly.
As a result, many of us have inadequate psychological recovery and go to bed with racing, muddled minds. Statistics show that 38% of people say they lie awake at night fretting about their worries and almost a third confess that a lack of sleep has caused them to fall asleep at work the next day.
With almost 1 in 5 people admitting they feel tired everyday due to a lack of sleep, Dr Neil Stanley shares the six things you should do in the 30 minutes before bed to help you re-establish a good sleep routine:
- 30 minutes. Use that last half hour to prepare for sleep and start by completing any final tasks for the day. Send that last email, pay that gas bill you’ve been meaning to pay all day and try and put aside any cares and concerns you have. Write down your worries and your to do list for tomorrow and then that’s it. Research conducted by Baylor University in Texas discovered that people who took 5 minutes to write down their to do lists before bed found it easier to drop off to sleep.
- 25 minutes. Reduce your exposure to blue light – blue light is known to suppress the release of melatonin, which is the body’s signal that it is time for sleep. Therefore, using screens before bed will disrupt sleep. Research shows that nearly 1 in 5 of us check social media before going to be so try and put your phone, laptop or tablet down, and if you need to use your phone for your morning alarm then turn it over, or pop it in your bedside drawer to avoid being disturbed. However, it is not just blue light that can affect our sleep, it has been shown that even ‘paper white’ screens can also be disturbing, so avoid light levels above a normal lightbulb.
- 20 minutes. Do brush your teeth and remove your make-up well in advance of getting in to bed, so that you are not left feeling alert at the time you want to be relaxing into bed. This can also act as a cue that the body should be preparing itself for sleep.
- 15 minutes. Take a 5-minute hot shower. Not only is this relaxing, but by heating the periphery of our body it actually helps us cool down. This is important because in order to get good sleep we need to lose about 1oC of body temperature. Only 12% of people have a bath or a shower before they go to sleep so give it a go and see if it makes a difference.
- 10 minutes. Conclude any activities you need to do before getting in to bed, such as visiting the bathroom so that you’re not having to get in and out of bed to run to the toilet. A staggering 42% of people say they don’t get enough sleep because they need the toilet in the night so make this one of the last things you do before bed.
- 5 minutes. Bed means sleep and at the end of the 30 minutes it is time for bed – no more chatting to your partner or scrolling through Facebook! The bed should be for sleeping only and so when you get into it, it should be with the sole purpose of going to sleep and nothing else.
Dr Neil Stanley is an independent freelance sleep expert and has been involved in sleep research for more than 35 years. He started his career at the Neurosciences Division of the R.A.F. Institute of Aviation Medicine then moved to the Human Psychopharmacology Research Unit (HPRU), part of the University of Surrey, and in 1993 was the Director of Sleep Research and created and ran a 24 bed sleep laboratory designed for clinical trials. In 2004 he received a PhD from the University of Surrey on the basis of my published works and has published 38 peer-review papers on various aspects of sleep research and psychopharmacology. He does not endorse any brands.
I shall have to try these suggestions, as I’m particularly guilty of using screens before bedtime. Do let me know if you give them a go too. And I’d love to hear your sleep tips.
Disclosure. This post mentions products I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.