Sleeping with the enemy

The top 10 sleep enemies and an expert’s guide to beating them

Nearly everyone will experience sleep problems at some point in their life. These disturbances can last a few days, or in some cases can be a prolonged condition that interferes with quality of life, relationships, work and general health.

For most adults, seven to eight hours of sleep a night is ideal, but many struggle to achieve this, with health research suggesting as many as one in three people is affected by sleep disturbance at any one time .  The good news is that most cases of sleep disturbance can be managed without relying on expensive sleep clinics or turning to prescription medication.

In order to properly tackle sleep disturbance, you need to become a sleep detective and identify your own personal sleep enemies. Here, we list the top 10 sleep enemies to help you on your way to the good night’s sleep you’ve been dreaming of. Sleep expert, Dr Yvonne Harrison, is also on hand to offer the best advice for achieving a better sleep, discovered through her years of research into the psychology of sleep disturbance.

Enemy #1: Anxiety
Stress, anxiety and sleep disturbance go hand in hand. In fact, a lack of sleep can only worsen symptoms of anxiety, creating a viscous cycle. Luckily there are some simple ways to help reduce anxiety to improve your sleep quality – and vice versa!

Dr Yvonne Harrison offers the following tips: Take time to unwind from the stresses of the day before going to bed – read a book, listen to soothing music or have a candle lit bath. You should avoid taking the troubles of the day to bed with you. If something is worrying you write it down and promise yourself you’ll deal with it in the morning.

Try a herbal remedy, half an hour before bedtime. Bonuit®, containing a unique and powerful combination of Valerian Root and Passion Flower, is traditionally used for the temporary relief of sleep disturbances due to symptoms of mild anxiety, based on traditional use

Enemy #2: Light
Exposure to artificial light during the hours of darkness stimulates brain cells and suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.

Make sure your bedroom is dark. Switch off all lights and fully draw the curtains, which should be well-lined to block out all light. You may even need an additional black out blinds during the summer months.

Enemy #3: Gadgets and Late night TV
Technology affects our sleep because of excessive cognitive stimulation at a time when your brain is trying to shut down. Even the simple physical act of responding to a video game or an email can cause anxiety and stimulates the release of the stress hormone, cortisol, which can hinder your sleep.

To prevent this, keep the TV out of the bedroom and avoid video games, mobile or tablet devices, the internet and emails for at least 30 minutes before sleep. Whatever it is, it can probably wait until tomorrow.

Enemy #4: Weekend lie-ins
Weekends can often mean late nights. But longer time in bed on a Saturday and Sunday will not do you any favours.

Dr Yvonne Harrison reveals: “Many experts believe that indulging in longer sleep periods over the weekend can throw off your biological clock, in the same way that long-distance travelling induces jet-leg, Resetting your body’s internal clock sets you up for a struggle come Monday morning.

“Try hard to stick to a regular sleep routine. If you do have to stay up late, still try to wake at the same time as you would usually as it is the variation in waking times that can affect our body clocks the most.”

ENEMY #5: Prescription medication
For many people, sleeping pills act as a sticking plaster and will only temporarily mask a problem without ever solving the underlying issue. Users may even become dependent on the medication, which can lead to anxiety resulting in sleep loss.

Try to identify the root cause of the issue, be it a temporary worry (like work or exam stress) or a more long-term issue, and work on resolving it at the source. Meanwhile, turning to a natural remedy containing the “calming herb” Passion Flower, such as RelaxHerb® will help to gently ease your symptoms and help you relax before bedtime

ENEMY #6: Stimulants
Steer clear of stimulants that interfere with sleep such as coffee, energy drinks, cigarettes and alcohol. The effects of caffeine can be surprisingly long –lasting, meaning that you might feel the effects of that afternoon cappuccino long into the evening.

Some people find that a warm, milky drink before bed helps them relax – but avoid cocoa-based drinks as they may contain caffeine. Also be careful of drinking late if you regularly wake at night to visit the loo – a full bladder is a guaranteed sleep enemy.

ENEMY #7: Sickness
At night, the symptoms of a cold can be worse, when blocked sinuses can make it so hard to breathe that a good night’s sleep will seem impossible.

A hot shower can help drain your sinuses and help nasal passages to constrict, relieving some of nasal stuffiness. You can achieve the same effect by sipping a cup of hot water or having a bowl of piping hot soup. Natural cold remedy, Kaloba®), which contains a unique extract of Perlagonium sidodies, is also said to help remove mucus from the respiratory tract

ENEMY #8: Digestion
Digestion requires a great deal of energy. As a result, sleep is often compromised when you body is still trying to digest food.  Avoid heavy meals in the evening and allow yourself around 2 hours between eating and lying down.

You can also try giving your digestive system a helping hand. Herbal food supplements containing artichoke, such as Thisilyn® Artichoke, are one of nature’s best-kept secrets when it comes to maintaining a healthy digestive system

ENEMY #9: Your Partner
Patience for your significant other can soon wear thin when you’re getting a poor night’s sleep as a result of their sleep disturbance. Short of kicking them out of bed, what’s the solution? A good place to start to find what might be causing their sleep issues, running through this feature with your partner may help identify the surface issues but your GP will also be able to help and provide support if needed.

Failing that, invest in a bigger bed and allow yourself more space away from your partner if needed.

ENEMY #10: Noise
Whether it’s noisy neighbours, busy roads, buzzing pests or even a snoring partner, nocturnal sounds are a likely culprit of a sleepless night.

To help keep your sleep zone as quiet as possible, think about investing in thicker curtains and floor insulation. Even simple steps like remembering to close the windows and doors, and furniture placement will help keep the noise levels down.

For the sleep you’ve been dreaming of…

Bonuit® Sleep Aid is a natural product that promotes healthy sleep and to gently ease anxiety, without the association of a wide-range of side effects. Plants have a long history of use to help reduce anxiety and encourage sleep independently, and these natural remedies are available as registered and regulated as traditional herbal medicines.
Bonuit® Sleep Aid combines two key ingredients used for the relief of sleep disturbances due to anxiety: Valerian and Passion Flower. Valerian is known for its positive effect on sleep structure, helping achieve deeper levels of slow wave sleep. Passion Flower has traditionally been used for its benefits in reducing symptoms of stress, such as mild anxiety which can hinder the initial act of falling asleep! Each Bonuit® Sleep Aid tablet contains a unique and powerful formulation combining Valerian root extract (Valerinan officinalis) with high strength Passion Flower herb extract (Passiflora incarnate)
Bonuit® Sleep Aid (priced at £9.99 for 30 tablets) is a traditional herbal medicinal product used for the temporary relief of sleep disturbances due to symptoms of mild anxiety, exclusively based on long-standing use as a traditional herbal remedy.
The remedy is available from Holland & Barrett and online at
For maximum benefit, take Bonuit® Sleep Aid for at least two weeks, continuously. Always read the label.