Improve your sleep for a healthier future
Insomnia has always been a problem for millions worldwide and, following the tumultuous pandemic times we are going through, has had an enormous impact on even more of us, with devastating effects on our health, emotions and work efficiency. This has led to many seeking help from the medical profession who may prescribe drugs to improve and prolong the hours we sleep.
However, many sufferers have endeavoured to help themselves by getting into what has been termed 'good sleep hygiene', which can be most effective in improving sleep patterns and re-establishing routines, so read on for some tips which may help you.
18 tips for better sleep
- Avoid daytime naps as they will reduce your need for sleep at night.
- Sleep alone in bed to avoid being disturbed.
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol too close to bedtime and not too large a meal near bedtime.
- Exercise regularly gradually increasing the length of your favourite exercise but always at least four hours before retiring.
- Take a good brand of multivitamin and minerals appropriate to your age.
- Get into a routine of the same time to bed and arising after sleep.
- Wind down before bed with a good book (not too heavy) or a hot bath (not too hot) and a calming drink (not alcohol).
- Avoid television to unwind particularly news programmes or disturbing films. If anything, a good comedy of your choice would be preferable.
- Make sure you have no blue light apparatus or mobiles switched on in the bedroom.
- Use the bedroom only for sleep do not watch television eat or work there.
- If very hot, put a water bottle in the fridge to cool you down as well as your pillow and socks.
- If something is buzzing in your mind, write it down ready to deal with in the morning.
- Get into a pre-bed routine i.e. shower or bath, brush teeth, set an alarm for your chosen time to awaken.
- Ensure the bedroom is dark, quiet, not too hot or cold. 16 degrees Celcius is ideal.
- Avoid heavy meals late at night. If you have to eat late, pasta or porridge are ideal.
- Ensure the bed is well made and comfortable. Swap duvet for cotton.
- Keep positive and listen to recordings of calming music or sounds of your choice as soon as you switch out the light.
- How long have you had that mattress? Consider changing it, you have been sleeping on it nightly for many years so this could be a worthwhile treat your body needs. Go to a reputable supplier and investigate the various levels of firmness available. Most will offer you a trial in your home for a given time until you are satisfied it offers you a sound sleep each night. Your body deserves it when you consider how long you lie there and will do so for the next eight years.
How to improve your sleep
In addition to the above tips, write a diary in which you list each night’s sleep, recording from when you get into bed, when you fall asleep and, finally, awake. Then total the hours slept for the week, which gives you the visual results so you can evaluate your progress and highlight when any problems may arise. This CBT process will enable you to become positive in your own ability to banish insomnia and so effect change.
Eventually, you would look for a minimum of seven and a maximum of nine hours. As this goal is achieved, the subconscious relates to the expectation of a good night’s sleep habit. If by chance you are disturbed in the night, you will know it was due to unusual extraneous noises that night and not blame it on insomnia.
As you progress, you become more alert each day, have improved energy levels and, according to scientists, may live a prolonged life.