So, we know that sleep is good for our physical and mental health but how do you get a good night’s sleep? Here’s 10 top tips:
1. Establish a regular sleep pattern. We need, on average, 7 – 9 hours of sleep per night. Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day will help you to feel more refreshed and energised. If you know that you tend to doze off after dinner or in front of the TV, change your routine to do an activity that keeps you awake until bedtime.
2. Make your bedroom a sleep haven. For the best sleep, make sure your bedroom is cool and well ventilated. If you are sensitive to light, invest in a black-out blind for your bedroom window. Keep office equipment out of the bedroom. Don’t be tempted to keep your work Blackberry on the bedside table. Keep the bedroom for sleep and sex.
3. Plan a relaxing bedtime routine. We know the benefits of a good bedtime routine for babies and children. The same principles apply to adults. A good routine tells your brain that it’s time for sleep. Choose what works for you:
- Take a warm bath or shower
- Watch an amusing tv programme
- Listen to soft music
- Listen to an audio book or Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime
- Have a warm non-caffeine drink
- Read an entertaining book or magazine
- Listen to a relaxing, self-hypnosis recording
Avoid anything that winds you up eg newspapers, news programmes, arguments with family members etc
4 Eat mindfully. Avoid big, rich or spicey meals within two hours of bed time.
5. Drink sensibly. Cut down on caffeine. Limit alcohol – it reduces the quality of your sleep.
6. Quit smoking – Nicotine is a stimulant and it can disrupt sleep.
7. Manage your stress level. Practice relaxation techniques to unwind and prepare for sleep. 7/11 breathing is easy to learn and very effective (see Blog 1 February)
8. Getting back to sleep. If you wake up during the night:
- Keep thinking about how comfortable you are in bed. Remember that your body is resting and that’s all that matters.
- Try the 7/11 breathing technique or your other favourite relaxation technique
- Do something boring. Waking up in the night should not be rewarded. If you want a drink just have cold water. If you want to read, stand up and do it.
- Use your notepad and pen. Sometimes when you wake up during the night you remember something important. Keep a note book and pen next to the bed so that you can write a reminder and go back to sleep
9. Exercise regularly. Regular exercise is good for your general health and for your sleep. 20 or 30 minutes of exercise a day can make all the difference to your wellbeing. If you don’t have time for planned or organised exercise try getting out for a walk, or bike ride or do some gardening. Keep to relaxing exercises in the evening such a yoga or pilates.
10. Consult your doctor if you:
- have persistent day time sleepiness
- have trouble breathing during the night and wake up frequently
- experience frequent morning headaches
- feel crawling sensations in your arms and legs at night
- physically act out dreams during sleep