The health benefits of a good night’s sleep can’t be overestimated. Here are some useful tips to help you achieve sweet dreams.
Create a sleep schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day sets the body’s internal clock to expect sleep at a certain time night after night. Aim to stick to this as closely as possible at weekends to avoid that Monday morning sleep hangover.
Exercise early. Exercise promotes restful sleep if done several hours before going to bed but as it stimulates the body to produce cortisol (which activates the alerting mechanism in the brain) it is not ideal near bedtime.
Avoid stimulants. The prime culprit is caffeine (found in coffee, tea, chocolate, cola and some pain medication) whose affects can take as long as 8 hours to wear off. Nicotine, another stimulant, causes light sleeping and early waking, due to nicotine withdrawal. Whilst alcohol may initially help you get to sleep, after a few hours it acts as a stimulant increasing the number of times you wake and decreasing the quality of your sleep.
Avoid large meals late at night. This can cause indigestion and interferes with your sleep.
Nap early or not at all. Call it a ‘power nap’ if you like but short sleeps after 3pm can interfere with the sleep drive making it harder to fall asleep at night.
Relax before bed.
Take an evening bath because the rise and then drop in body temperature can stimulate the feeling of wanting to sleep as well as relaxing you.
Turn your bedroom into a sleep inducing environment. Create a quiet, dark, cool (temperature I mean!) well ventilated, gadget free environment. And ensure you have a comfortable mattress and pillows.
Get daily exposure to sunlight. Natural light keeps your internal clock on a healthy sleep-wake cycle. So let the light in first thing in the morning and aim to spend at least 30 minutes in natural daily light (ideally early in the day).
And once you’ve woken up – get up. Maybe it’s time to take the first steps on that long promised exercise regime?
It all sounds obvious doesn’t it but sleeping like a baby only takes a few baby steps.