How to sleep: How deep breathing can help you to sleep better and other tips from experts

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If you’ve ever spent a night tossing and turning, you already know how you’ll feel the next day — tired, cranky, and out of sorts. But missing out on the recommended seven to nine hours of shut-eye nightly does more than make you feel groggy and grumpy. The long-term effects of sleep deprivation are real are worrisome for your health. Can deep breathing help with this?

Dr Chris Dickson at Cambridge Sleep Sciences said: “Lack of sleep is a growing problem with 52 percent of the nation not getting to sleep as quickly as they should be, which could mean they’re in poor health.

“Creating separation is important as a restful environment is crucial, but many are using bedrooms as workplaces, blurring boundaries and making it harder to get to sleep.

“The lack of a commute also makes it difficult to separate work and life.

“Having good sleep hygiene is important and this includes tidying away workspaces, reducing external light, blocking out distracting noises and maintaining a room temperature of around 16°C.

“Our different sleep cycles and the science behind why a healthy night’s sleep should last eight hours.”

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Professor Jason Ellis, Professor of Sleep Science and Director of the Northumbria Centre for Sleep Research Department, explains why most of us are so tired is the difference between the times we sleep, and the times our biological clocks want to us to sleep, and social sleep restriction, reducing our sleep duration on certain days can have major effects.

These have both been linked to health conditions associated with poor sleep patterns, including heart disease, obesity, metabolic dysfunction and increased inflammation.

Professor Ellis says: “It’s clear that the coronavirus pandemic is having a huge, unexpected, impact on our sleep patterns. It’s time to deal with our lack of sleep head on.”

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Deep breathing can help aid sleep

A study published in Psychophysiology asked insomniacs to practice slow breathing before bedtime, with results showing improvements in sleep duration and quality and a reduction in the time it took to nod off.

Added to this, it’s important to make sure nothing impairs our breathing.

This type of breathing is useful in that it helps to slow down the various functions in your body that can keep you tense and anxious.

Allowing yourself to deep breathe will slow your heart rate and make it easier to drift off to sleep.

Sanjay Verma, Chief Sleep Officer at Hilding Anders, offers other tips to sleep better which include:

Listening to calming music

“Music is a great way to improve sleep as it calms parts of the autonomic nervous system, leading to slower breathing, lower heart rate, and reduced blood pressure.

“There are certain kinds of music which are ideal for this, including binaural and meditation music.

“So practically, you don’t try to fall asleep, but your system slows down and you drift off naturally.”

Considering the sleep environment

“Decoration and ambience in the bedroom all play a part in your sleep quality and how easily you drift off.

“It has been found that the ideal sleep environment is cool, quiet and dark, free of computers and screens.

“So take a look around and decide what should and shouldn’t be in your bedroom, and maybe swap out your TV for some aromatherapy.”

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