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How to hug yourself to sleep in just one minute

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We all know that seven to eight hours is the recommended kip we should be getting in every night, according to the NHS. Getting any less than five hours regularly is associated with not-so-cool things like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.

But getting our much-needed shut-eye isn’t always as easy as it sounds – and getting to sleep (or getting back to sleep if you wake up) – can often be the hard bit.

According to research conducted by Leeds University and Silentnight, more than a quarter of us are suffering from dangerously low levels of the slumber stuff.

So how can we get more?

Sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, has revealed how simply giving yourself a hug when you’re bedding down at night can help you get a deep and restorative night’s sleep.

‘It’s something many of us more than likely do without even realising,’ Dr Ramlahkan says.

The key to this simple technique lies in feeling safe.

‘Feeling safe and relaxed before bed is the fundamental component to a good night’s sleep, and hugging yourself for at least one minute while in bed is the trick to feeling settled,’ according to Dr Ramlakhan.

An illustration of a woman stretching happily in bed

(Picture: Ella Byworth for

When we hug another person our brains release feel-good hormones, like oxytocin and serotonin. These hormones support feelings of trust and faith which, in turn, leads us to feeling safe and secure.

But you don’t only get these hormones when hugging other people. The same effect can come from giving yourself a good squeeze before you nod off.

Dr Ramlakhan explains you ‘Simply place your right hand under your left armpit, and place your left arm over your right arm, with your left hand gently but firmly resting on your right shoulder. Focus on breathing deeply, relax and you’ll be asleep within the minute.’

The whole thing goes back to our fight-or-flight mode. If we’re on alert then we enter survival mode and our bodies will fight sleep. We often beat ourselves up, as we lie awake, for not being able to get to sleep when we need it.

In the doctor’s own words: ‘Don’t think about the sleep you need to get, as this can heighten the feeling of anxiety – too many of us are fixated on the holy grail of eight hours. Instead, consider techniques such as the ‘hugging’ pose, which can help us to drift off easily.’

And, if you’re still having problems drifting off, here’s some more sleeping tips from Dr Ramlakhan:

1. Don’t commute on an empty stomach

So many of us end up having a ‘deskfast’ because it’s convenient and easy to grab something after we’ve got off the train or driven into work. However if you put your body through the stress of a commute on an empty stomach, you could seriously impact the sleep you have that night.

his is because the body ends up running on ‘adrenaline energy’ on your way to work which is one of the main factors causing shallow, ‘muddy’ sleep. To achieve deep, restorative sleep, eat breakfast every day and within 30 minutes of rising.

2. Stop aimlessly looking at your phone

When we get an alert on our phone the brain mentally responds, so even if the message is nothing significant we end up continuing to look at our phones, mindlessly following links on the internet and waking our brain up even more.

It might be a tough habit to break but if you’re serious about sleeping better you need to stop looking at your phone at least an hour before you go to sleep.

An illustration of a hand holding a mobile phone which reads:

(Picture: Ella Byworth for

3. Drink alkaline water

If you’re already drinking the recommended two litres of water a day and you want to take it to the next level, try adding a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of sea salt to alkalise the water.

The body functions optimally at an alkaline PH of 7.35, so hydrating with alkaline water helps our body to work properly, transmitting messages and enabling our physiological processes, including getting a really good night’s sleep.

4. Think about the half life of caffeine

We all know that cutting down on caffeine will help with sleep issues but very few of us think about the half life of the coffee or tea we’re drinking.

The half life of caffeine is five hours which means if you have a drink at 5pm you will still have half that amount in your blood supply by 10pm. You probably won’t feel energised by 10pm but the caffeine is still in your system and it’s enough to stop you sleeping well.

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