Sleep at regular times – keep regular sleeping hours, even at the weekend, this programmes the brain and internal body clock to get used to a set routine. Adults need an average of 7.5 hrs sleep per night, you know what time you need to get up, so make sure you get to bed on time to fit in those 7.5 hrs.
Have a good bed time routine – relax and wind down before bed, a warm bath or shower will help your body reach a temperature ideal for rest. Write a gratitude diary, encouraging the brain to think positively before sleep. Practice some relaxing yoga, or listen to relaxing music or read a book, listen to a hypnotherapy download – all things that relax the mind by distracting it.
Make your bedroom sleep friendly – your bedroom needs to be dark, quiet, tidy and kept cool. Have a comfortable bed helps. Ideally no electronics in the room, but if you can’t remove them then unplug them and cover them up. Put your phone in another room so you are not tempted to look at if you wake up.
Avoid caffeine and nicotine – caffeine can take 8 hours to leave your system, so an afternoon coffee or cola can make it hard for you to fall asleep at night. Nicotine is a stimulant, often causing smokers to sleep only very lightly.
Avoid alcoholic drinks – alcohol before bed robs you of the ability to reach REM sleep, and keeps you only in the light stages of sleep. REM sleep is required for memory retention, processing emotions and plays a significant part in relieving anxiety.
Avoid large meals or drinks late at night – these can cause indigestion and/or cause you to get up to the use the bathroom often.
Take Exercise – make sure your body is physically tired (exercise has lots of benefits for your mental health as well as physical health)
Don’t take naps in the afternoon – naps can help make up for lost sleep, but later afternoon naps make it hard to sleep that night.
Don’t lie in bed – if you’re unable to sleep, get up and do something relaxing, don’t lie in bed and get anxious about not sleeping.
TV’s and tablets – avoid screen time 2 hours before bed. The blue light in TV’s, computers, tablets delay the production of Melatonin (the sleep switch).
The single most effective way to improve your sleep is to reduce your stress – when we are stressed and anxious our busy mind finds it hard to get to sleep, it can also wake us up in the middle of the night and keep us awake. The most common symptom people mention to me when they first come to see me is poor sleep. When they see me the following week they often comment that their sleep has improved already.