Sleep is essential to good health, yet it’s one of the least understood bodily processes. One disrupted night of sleep can make us just feel a little off for a day or two, but when we start to struggle to get quality sleep regularly, we can experience health problems.
Sleep problems aren’t rare - 36% of UK adults have difficulties sleeping at least once a week, and over 14% of adults are getting less than 5 hours of sleep a night. Over time, the cumulative effects of lack of sleep can contribute to or cause the development of serious conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and depression.
While these effects are concerning, most of us aren’t willingly losing out on our sleep, and just want to find a solution to constantly feeling tired and stressed. The good news is you can drastically improve your quality of sleep with just a few tweaks to your daily routine. Read on to find out more of our top tips and about the best vitamins that help with sleep!
What are the different stages of sleep?
There are 4 stages of sleep - 1 stage is REM (rapid eye movement) and 3 stages make up non-REM sleep. REM sleep is when our body relaxes but our eyes continue to move rapidly, and non-REM sleep is when our entire body is relatively still.
The different stages are defined by the activity in the brain. Here’s how it breaks down:
Stage 1: Non-REM sleep that lasts around 1-5 minutes and is the time when you’re dozing off and the body is starting to relax.
Stage 2: Non-REM sleep that lasts 10-60 minutes and is the time when your body starts to fall into a relaxed state, with a much slower rate of breathing and heart rate, and eye movement stops. This is the “biggest” stage, as we typically spend about 50% of the night in this stage.
Stage 3: Non-REM sleep that lasts 20-40 minutes (this is also known as deep sleep) is the stage our body and brain are most at rest. Our brain activity drops to delta waves and our body goes into rest-and-repair mode. We mostly experience this stage in the first half of the night, and each deep sleep phase gets shorter throughout the night.
Stage 4: REM sleep, lasts 10-60 minutes and is the phase when our brain activity picks up. While our eyes and the muscles that control breathing continue to move, our body goes into a state of atonia, which is temporary paralysis. REM sleep stages start short and lengthen over the night, and make up about 25% of our sleep.
This cycle will then repeat.
Why do I feel tired all the time?
In most cases, tiredness is caused by a lack of consistent good-quality sleep, a lack of balanced healthy nutrition, or chronic stress. If you feel as though you’re not suffering from any of these issues and feel tired all the time, it’s worth reaching out to your doctor for further advice.
Why am I struggling to sleep?
Here are some of the main reasons why people struggle to sleep:
- Stress - stress is one of the biggest reasons why we struggle to get quality sleep. Whether it’s churning thoughts keeping us awake, giving us bad dreams, or waking us up in the middle of the night with seemingly urgent concerns, it’s difficult to sleep well when you’re stressed.
- Alcohol - A lot of people will turn to a nightcap to help them relax and get off to sleep faster, but alcohol damages your sleep in later stages. You also often wake up in the middle of the night needing the toilet and/or dehydrated.
- Disrupted sleep pattern - if you’re going to bed at 9pm one night, 2am the next, and midnight the next night, you’re more likely to struggle with getting to sleep because your body doesn’t know what to expect. This goes double if you’re still getting up at the same time, and not getting enough sleep.
Other reasons why you may be struggling include:
- Hormonal changes
How can I improve my sleep?
It’s best to start with natural remedies before you think about talking to a doctor about possible medications unless you’re already experiencing another condition that makes sleep difficult for you (such as chronic pain), though natural remedies will help you, too. Here’s how to sleep better at night naturally:
- Avoid eating heavy meals late (within 2-3 hours of going to bed)
- Have a relaxing wind-down routine where you do the same things each night
- Try to go to sleep at the same time each night
- Take natural supplements to help you get off to sleep more easily (more on this below!)
- Avoid sources of stress within 1-2 hours of sleep (no emails, social media, news, put your phone on do not disturb and/or mute conversations, etc)
- Don’t drink caffeine after 3pm
What supplements help with sleep? Our Deep Sleep Complex
Wondering what supplements increase deep sleep? Taking natural supplements can help support you and help you find better and deeper sleep, faster. We’ve packed our Deep Sleep Complex supplement with all the best natural supplements to help you find better sleep:
- Vitamin B6: B6 (also known as pyridoxine) is one of the key vitamins that help with sleep. B6 helps the body produce serotonin and melatonin, both of which are necessary for quality sleep. Research has demonstrated that maintaining sufficient levels of pyridoxal 5'-phosphate (P5P) in the body is beneficial for both sleep duration and quality. This suggests that individuals looking to improve their sleep patterns should consider supplementing with Vitamin B6 to ensure they are getting the correct dosage of P5P in their system.
- Magnesium: Magnesium is an essential mineral for improving sleep efficiency and total sleep time, leading to healthier sleep. Studies have shown that magnesium can help reduce latency to fall asleep, increase deep sleep stages, and enhance overall sense of wellbeing upon waking. Magnesium helps the body regulate neurotransmitters and melatonin, both of which create healthy sleep-wake cycles.
- L-Tryptophan: L-tryptophan has been proven to be an effective supplement for improving sleep quality and reducing the time it takes to fall asleep. It works by raising serotonin levels in the brain, which helps promote relaxation and restful sleep. In addition, this amino acid helps to reduce anxiety and stress, making it easier to drift off into a deep slumber.
- 5-HTP: 5-HTP is a naturally occurring compound that helps to regulate sleep-wake cycles and optimise sleep quality. It works by stimulating the production of serotonin, which is an important neurotransmitter involved in regulating normal sleep patterns. Studies have shown that supplementation with 5-HTP improves deep sleep time (NREM) and reduces the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.
- Valerian: Valerian root is a well-known natural sleep aid that is believed to increase the levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain, which helps calm spinning thoughts and tension. The extract works by interacting with certain receptors in the brain, improving sleep onset latency and decreasing sleep fragmentation, resulting in an improved overall sleep quality.
- Choline: Choline helps to regulate your body's natural 24-hour circadian rhythm and sleep/wake cycles, as well as providing long-term enhancement of REM sleep. Supplementing with choline helps the body to produce melatonin more quickly, allowing you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer which results in a more restful night’s sleep.
- Zinc: Zinc has a critical role in the healthy functioning of many bodily systems, including cognitive, sleep and immune. By acting as a modulator on the brain's neurotransmitters, zinc helps to reduce anxiety levels, resulting in improved sleep quality. Furthermore, zinc also plays an important role in regulating melatonin production, thereby promoting deeper and more restful sleep. It’s also necessary for the metabolism of melatonin. Numerous studies have shown that taking sufficient zinc shortens the time it takes to fall asleep.
- Lemon Balm: Lemon balm is a popular herb that is known for its calming effects and can help reduce symptoms of anxiety, insomnia and restlessness. Studies show that lemon balm reduces stress hormones and increases the production of mood-enhancing neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, which can help alleviate symptoms of depression.
How to sleep better with anxiety
It’s worth noting that because so many of the above supplements support the healthy production of serotonin, they’re all known for their benefits in helping you reduce stress and anxiety, which will further help you find better sleep.
Sleep Supplements UK
If you’re looking for all-natural vegan and eco-friendly supplements for sleep in the UK, look no further than our Deep Sleep Complex. Packed with all the essential nutrition you need to get better sleep, you’ll soon find you feel better rested! To get your hands on our Deep Sleep Complex, click here.