Twelve steps to better sleep
Insomnia affects roughly a third of the population. Whilst hypnotherapy can help what are the practical steps that you can take yourself to tackle insomnia?
1. Avoid using caffeine and sugar to give you a lift in the afternoons, as these will affect your sleep. Think longer-term than the immediate energy boost, and tackle the cause of your tiredness through correcting your sleep pattern.
2. Avoid using smartphones, tablets, and LED lighting from two hours before bedtime. They emit “blue light” which suppresses the production of melatonin, the sleep promoting hormone.
3. Eat a small amount of food rich in carbohydrates, such as cereal. In addition the milk with the cereal contains tryptophan which promotes the production of melatonin.
4. Don’t use alcohol to help you get to sleep. Alcohol is a sedative, and disrupts REM dream sleep and disturbs your sleep pattern.
5. Make sure that your bedroom is the right environment to sleep in – dark, quiet, and neither too warm nor too cold. For most people this means a temperature of around 18°C in their bedroom.
6. Take a bath or shower before going to bed. As your body temperature drops back to normal afterwards it will mimic your body’s natural drop in temperature as you go to sleep.
7. Sprinkle lavender or neroli oil on your pillow before sleeping. Tests have shown that they improve the time taken to get to sleep, and the quality of sleep as well.
8. Try some moderately difficult mental arithmetic, as people with insomnia fall asleep more quickly when doing so.
9. Regular exercise (at least two and a half hours per week) will have a positive effect on sleep. Ideally any exercise should finish at least six hours before you wish to go to sleep, in order to allow enough time or your body to return to a state of rest.
10. If the constant reminder of time from the bedside clock is troubling you then put the bedside clock where you can’t see it.
11. Finally give the habit of sleep time to become established. After 15 minutes of wakefulness or insomnia you should get out of bed and do something relaxing or non-stimulating for twenty minutes before going back to bed. One thing you don’t want to do is to strengthen any link between their bed and the idea of not sleeping.
12. The key to success is consistency, and this means establishing a sleep routine with the same times every day – including weekends.
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About John McKenzie
Cheshire hypnotherapist John McKenzie specialises in treating people with anxiety, and the ways that their anxiety manifests itself - through sleep problems, phobias, pain, and habits. A registered member of the NCH and CHNC he works with private clients and with employers on workplace stress and well-being.