Sleep is vital for the health of our mind and body, and without the right amount of good quality sleep we are putting our health at risk. Below are some tips to help you have a better nights sleep.
If you are having trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep or feel tired during the day then you should see your doctor for a health check up.
Research confirms that having a routine helps to train our bodies to sleep at a certain time. While this is not always possible for those that work shift work, or for those life events that come up, we should try and stick to a routine as best possible, as much as possible. Those that have a “bed time” sleep better than those that don’t. Aim to go to bed by the same time at night, and wake at the same time each morning. It may take awhile to get into routine, but this will help your mind and body to “know” when it is time to sleep.
- No electronics before bed
Put the phone and tablet away, and turn the tv off. If you have trouble getting to sleep, then using electrical devices will keep you awake. Before handheld electronics, and way “back in the day” our bodies relied on light to tell us it was time to get up. The light from our favourite handheld devices keeps us awake. Instead, try reading a book or some meditation as part of your sleep routine and resist the handheld devices.
- Get the right amount of shut eye
Part of a good routine, is getting the right amount of sleep. Research tells us that between 6 – 8 hours sleep is best for our health (see here), so aim to spend no longer than 8 ½ hours per night in bed.
- Relax before going to bed
To help your sleep routine, add relaxation to your night time routine. Meditation, yoga, massage, breathing techniques, a warm shower. Keep your routine simple and repeat it every night so that your body recognises that it is time to sleep. And remember that your bed is for sleeping, so do not use any hand held devices, or watch tv in bed.
- Avoid medical interventions such as sleeping tablets
These are not an answer to the problem and will not help long term. They are highly addictive and should only be prescribed by a doctor who is fully aware of your health and current situation and not used long term. Before taking sleeping tablets, try improving your sleep hygiene and ask your doctor for other alternatives that may help. Getting to the root of the problem is vital, as sleeping tablets will not fix the issue. You may have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnoea for example.
- Make sure that you are comfortable
Ensure that you are comfortable in your sleeping attire, and that your bedroom is a comfortable temperature. If you are having trouble sleeping because you are uncomfortable, figure out if it is physical comfort such as bedding, temperature or noise, and aim to improve your comfort. Most people find that a cool room, with minimal noise and light helps them sleep better.
- Avoid napping during the day
If you have trouble sleeping at night, then napping during the day will make it worse. If you nap during the day you are interrupting your sleep routine, and will not feel as tired when you want to go to bed at night. If you feel that you need to nap during the day, seek advice from your doctor.
- Don’t watch the time
When you can’t sleep, your anxiety heightens and your mind goes into overdrive as you think about how frustrated you are that you can’t sleep, that you aren’t going to get enough sleep, and about how tired you are going to be during the day. Instead of checking the time try some breathing techniques, or perhaps a white noise device.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, eating late or other stimulants
Even if you don’t feel the “effects” of caffeine or alcohol, your brain does. They interrupt your sleep and the ability for your mind to relax. Instead, have some relaxing tea (minus the caffeine of course)! And don’t eat for at least 2-3 hours before you want to go to bed.
- Make healthy lifestyle choices
Eat healthy, drink enough water and get enough exercise. Healthier body means a healthier mind, all of which helps you sleep better at night.