6 Habits For Better Sleep

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I can always tell when I've not been getting enough sleep.  Apart from the obvious of feeling tired pretty much as soon as I wake up, I also feel like I'm hungover when I'm not (which is so not fair!), I get headaches, I'm over-emotional and I'm cranky.   There are many factors that can interfere with a good night's sleep - pressure at work, family circumstances and illness to name but a few.  It's no wonder that quality sleep is sometimes elusive.

You might not be able to control all of the factors that interfere with your sleep, but that doesn't mean you are doomed to toss and turn every night.  There are some simple habits you can adopt to encourage better sleep:

  1. Go to bed at the same time every night. OK, realistically this is not always possible, but if you try to go to bed at approximately the same time every night, within a half hour, you’ll start to train your mind and body that this is bedtime, time to go to sleep.
  1. Get up at the same time every day. Yes, this one is tough, too.  No sleeping in on Saturdays.  If you can get up at approximately the same time every day, again you can train your mind and body when to be awake and when to sleep.
  1. The bed is just for sleeping and sex. You want to break any other behavioural associations and reinforce this simple rule.  So forget reading, forget watching TV, and forget checking your phone.  Also, the light from your devices’ screens blocks the production of melatonin, a brain chemical that’s crucial for falling asleep.
  1. Get out of bed if you can’t sleep. If you wake up during the night and can’t get back to sleep within 20 minutes, or if you find yourself running through tomorrow’s to-do list instead of nodding off, then get up.  Go into another room, read a book or fold laundry, just do something in a different space.  If you’ve got stuff on your mind, get them out of your head and onto paper.  When you feel yourself getting sleepy, then go back to your bed and try to go back to sleep.
  1. Plan ahead. You can start earlier in the day or evening to create optimal conditions for falling asleep.  Avoid caffeine after 4pm, as well as alcohol near bedtime.  Try to exercise earlier in the day so your body has ample time to wind down.  Try to give yourself a couple of hours between dinner time and bed time.  A large meal before bed can be very disruptive.  But a calming cup of green or camomile tea before bed may help.
  1. Meditation and Relaxation. A simple 10-minute meditation before bed can help you get mentally ready for sleep.  The Mindfullness Daily App guides you through quick, effective practices to reduce stress and enhance sleep.  The Relax Melodies App will allow you to select sounds and melodies that you like and combine them to create a personalised mix that works best for you.