Some tips for better sleep.
· All adults of any age need 7 to 8 hours sleep every night. Making up sleep at weekends or other times is not nearly as beneficial. Work out what your normal waking time is and work back 7 to 8 hours for your bedtime, and make that as consistent as you can. Get up at the same time every day.
· It is a myth that we learn or problem solve better by burning the midnight hours. Our ability to learn is actually diminished. We learn much better before good sleep and after good sleep. The same is true with our physical coordination and our inherent creativity.
· Exercise generally benefits sleep. Avoid any heating exercise in the evening in which you are hot and sweaty. The trigger for sleep depends on core temperature being lowered.
· Core temperature is actually lowered by washing face and hands before sleep. A warm bath will also help.
· Avoid snoozing in the evening before sleeping. It will use up some of the physical chemicals that induce a good nights sleep. A nap is useful during the day but not later than early afternoon and no longer than half an hour.
· Your sleeping physiology is highly affected and regulated by light. Sleep with curtains closed. Avoid bright lights in the evening, particularly all electronic screens, ideally up to two hours before sleeping.
· The bedroom is just for sleeping. Remove anything that is not sleep orientated. Never allow an electronic screen or gadget into the bedroom. The temperature should not be greater than 18 degrees C. Don’t put clocks where you can read the time.
· Coffee prevents sleep. If you do drink it, then the last cup should be no later than lunchtime. Note that caffeine is contained in many other products.
· Alcohol does not induce sleep it only sedates the body for a while and then induces disturbed sleep and stops us dreaming.
· Eat any evening meal quite early, so the body is not producing heat whilst digesting later on. Red meat in the evening could also be avoided, as it tends to produce heat in the digestive system for longer.
· A good mattress and a good pillow helps.
· Avoid sleeping pills. They will make sleep much less viable in the end. They are a sedative, not a way of inducing sleep. Check whether any medications you are using are interfering with sleep.
· It is good to have exposure to natural sunlight during the day. Early in the day is best as it helps set the body’s natural clock.
· The period before bedtime should ideally be as calm as possible avoiding activities that stir and fill the mind and create anxiety. Looking at screens is not advised.
· If you are awake in the night, then limit the amount of time you lie awake in bed, if that is creating anxiety. Get up and settle into something quiet before returning to bed. Avoid light if possible. Take a warm calming drink like a herbal tea.
· Sleep inducing herbs and aromatherapy at the very least set a calming intention.
· Most people who would like to sleep better than they do, have an over active nervous system. Discover ways in which this can be diffused and relaxed. Some methods are included in the reading list. Spend time with a restorative yoga teacher. They are generally experts at showing you ways to relax the body and mind.
· Sleeplessness is often promoted by anxiety and once established amplifies it. Working sympathetically with whatever it is, that is making you overactive, lies at the heart of promoting better sleep. In many cases it is useful to explore this with the help of a therapist, particularly a therapist whose speciality is sleep.
· You are not alone. Many people don’t sleep well. Almost everyone can learn to sleep and dream better.