The A-Z of sleep aids

Having trouble getting enough shut-eye? Try these sleep remedies when you’ve counted your very last sheep.

Sleep deprivation can affect every aspect of health, including memory and cognition, and can lead to an increased risk of chronic illness such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

If you’re one of the 39.8 per cent of Aussies who don’t get enough shut-eye, we may have the answer to your night-time prayers.

A is for almond milk. High in sleep-promoting hormones and minerals including tryptophan, melatonin and magnesium.

B is for bedtime stories. Help busy minds shift down a gear and can be an important part of an adult bedtime ritual, reducing stress levels by up to 68 per cent.

C is for CPAP. Short for continuous positive airway pressure machine, this is an air pump and mask that delivers mild air pressure to your upper airways while you sleep.

D is for daylight. It might sound counterintuitive but science shows that natural sunlight or bright light during the day helps keep your circadian rhythm healthy.

E is for earplugs. Whether it’s traffic noise or a snoring partner, earplugs will help block out sounds while you enjoy your siesta.

F is for fatty fish. A good source of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, two nutrients that help regulate serotonin – a neurotransmitter that assists with sleep.

G is for ginseng. Not called the king of herbs for nothing, ginseng extract has shown to have positive effects when it comes to sleep problems.

H is for headphones. Whether listening to calming music or white noise, headphones can be the perfect tool to help you unwind.

I is for intimate. Sex releases the hormones oxytocin and prolactin, both which relax the body and may help bring on snooze-time.

J is for journal. Keeping a “worry journal” to transfer thoughts from busy mind to paper (revisit them when you’re fresh in the morning) works for some.

K is for kava. Pacific Islanders have used it for years to promote relaxation and studies have shown have shown this plant is more effective than a placebo in reducing stress and insomnia.

L is for lavender. A powerful herb that has been found to improve sleep by inducing calming and sedentary effects.

M is for melatonin. A key sleep hormone that tells your brain when it’s time to relax, melatonin supplements are a popular sleep aid.

N is for nose pegs. Designed to help you stop snoring (and therefore sleep better), pegs or clips use magnets to open the nostrils and increase airflow.

O is for optimise (your bedroom environment). Things like temperature, noise, external lights and even furniture arrangement can get in the way of your slumber. Be tranquil.

P is for passionflower. A plant containing chemicals that produce a calming effect, studies passionflower can alleviate sleep disorders.

Q is for quality bedding. A lumpy mattress and pillows, and a bad bed, can lead to poor sleep quality (and neck and back pain).

R is for red light. In the same way you need to avoid exposure to blue light, studies have found red spectrum light may help you sleep better by aiding melatonin production.

S is for sleep apps. Listening is the new reading and many apps now have guided meditations to help you unwind after “one of those days”.

T is for turn off the TV. You know the temptation of “just the next ep” and all that artificial light is keeping you awake.

U is for unwind. A relaxing bedtime routine is essential to ease you into a sleep-inducing mood. Think a calming bath, dark room, classical music.

V is for valerian root. Used for centuries as a herbal remedy, research suggests valerian can help you fall asleep and improve sleep quality.

W is for weighted blanket. Heavy blankets have been found to be beneficial in reducing sleep issues.

X is for x-factor. Saving the best for (nearly) last. Dark chocolate (our very own x-factor) contains magnesium, which helps you adapt to the rhythms of day and night. 

Y is for yawn. We know it’s contagious but turns out that doing too much of it may be a sign you need to tuck in.

Z is for zzzs. Sweet dreams are made of this.

More sleep advice:

Written by Liz McGrath