According to surveys, one in three of us has difficulty sleeping – with insomnia considered the UK’s most common mental health complaint. While an average night’s sleep hasn’t changed from 50 years (about seven hours), these days we are bombarded with information 24/7, making sleep more fragmented and hard to come by.
If you struggle to get enough sleep, try the following tips for a more harmonious bedtime.
1. Stop worrying
Worrying that you are not getting enough sleep ironically will only stop you from sleeping, creating a vicious cycle. Experts say the notion of needing eight hours sleep is exaggerated and that most of us can happily get by on six hours a night without any knock-on effects. Reducing your anxiety about sleeping enough will help you relax and fall asleep more easily.
2. Establish a routine
Give yourself ample wind-down time to ensure you are mentally and physically prepared for sleep. Take an hour before bed to turn off any screens, make a to-do list for the following day (to stop that mind from racing), have a bath, enjoy a small snack or warm drink and keep your bedroom quiet, dark and clutter-free.
3. Be mindful of what you eat
What you eat during the day can have a huge impact on your sleep. Surprisingly – when you eat breakfast is key. Eating within half an hour of waking will cause you to produce more of the sleep hormone melatonin during the day. You should also avoid caffeine in the afternoon and alcoholic drinks late at night.
4. Have an electronic sundown
The blueish lights from Smartphones, laptops and tablets can delay the body’s production of sleep hormones. On top of this, being ‘online’ can overload you with information that can’t be processed before sleep – keeping you awake. Try to turn off all electronic devices an hour before you head to bed and try reading or listening to music instead.
5. Tune out at least once a day
Studies have shown that 10 minutes of meditation a day gives your body as much rest as the final phase of sleep, allowing your brain the chance to recharge. If the idea of meditation doesn’t appeal, try going for a walk or some breathing exercises instead.
6. Have an action plan
If you do wake up in the middle of the night and struggle to get back to sleep, have an action plan to stop you from worrying. Avoid clock-watching and try not to turn on the lights to keep yourself in a sleepy state. Try a relaxation exercise and if you really can’t get back to sleep – get up and out of bed and try reading until you feel sleepy.
If you are struggling to sleep, seeing a hypnotherapist could help. Take a look at our hypnotherapy for insomnia page for more information.
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