1. Get your bed and bedroom right for sleep
One of the most overlooked hurdles to a good night’s sleep is where you sleep and what you sleep on. Is your mattress comfortable? How about your pillows and bedding? Is your bedroom too hot – or too cold? Do your curtains block out the light adequately in the brighter nights of summer? Is your room too noisy?
Remember that you can use soothing music or earplugs to block out noise you can’t control and don’t forget about eye masks for light nights. No matter what your sleep problem is, the effort in making your bed and bedroom right for you is the first step you have to take to help you get a good night’s sleep.
2. Get yourself a sleep routine
Go to bed (to sleep) at a regular time and get up at the same time each morning. Learn how to develop a sleep routine to help you wind down before going to bed – but don’t try to do this too early in the evening. Reading or listening to soothing music can help you relax in bed and help you get a good night’s sleep.
3. Get exercising for sleep!
Exercise is good for sleep! How can this be so, you ask? Exercising at the right time of the day (ie. not in the evening just before you try to get to sleep) prepares your body for the need to ‘rest and regenerate’ at night. Do this regularly – even if it is just simple stretching or breathing exercises. Better still, go for a walk in the late afternoon, after work but before dinner.
4. Get out of bed!
If you do not get to sleep after 15 or 30 minutes of going to bed – get out of your bed. There is no point tossing and turning, worrying about how to sleep, or thinking about problems you can’t resolve. Do something relaxing such as reading or simple preparations for the next day. For instance, make a list of things you have to get done the next day to ‘empty your mind’ of restless thoughts. Don’t watch the late news as this is often disturbing. Many people however, find the shipping forecast soothing! After 30 minutes or so, get back to bed to try to sleep.
5. Use your bed for the right night time activities
Don’t lie on your bed at night to work or watch television – your mind and body will get used to these activities. Falling asleep with the television will not help you get a good night’s sleep – after 30 minutes, you are wide awake again. How many times have you done this in the past month? Your bed should only be used for sleeping (and, of course, sex, which is good for sleep).
6. Eating, drinking and smoking
A large meal late at night won’t help you get a good night’s sleep. Also, remember that caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes are all stimulants and these won’t help either. There are certain foods that are better for you – try soothing herbal teas such as chamomile, or a cereal coffee substitute such as Bambu; and have a light snack (a banana or yoghurt) as part of your routine before going to bed.
7. Sleep only at night
This seems obvious. No matter how tired you feel, taking naps during the day will not help you get a good night’s sleep. Also, don’t stay in bed too long in the morning to catch up on lost sleep. Learn how to get up regularly at a decent hour each morning.