It’s about getting your body and mind ready for sleep – sending it all the right signals.
Routine, Rituals and a Restful space
Go to bed and get up at the same time, a sleep diary can help. Develop a routine to signal to your body that it’s time for bed. Dad always said the hours before midnight were more important, although not sure of the evidence about that. A restful space, which is the right temperature, comfortable and dark enough to sleep is also important.
Sleep when tired
Try and sleep when you are tired. Don’t stay in bed tossing and turning. Get up after 20 minutes, do something boring (no devices) and then try again. Clock watching is counter-productive.
Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol
Try and avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol 4-6 hours before bed. Warm milk contains tryptophan, which can help with sleep. Camomile tea is also calming for some people.
Bed is only for sleeping (and sex)
No eating, watching TV and using devices in bed.
Look after yourself – eat right and exercise
A balanced healthy diet is important, but don’t eat a heavy meal just before you go to bed. Also, don’t go to bed feeling hungry. Exercise is also important for our physical and mental health, but avoid strenuous exercise just before bed. Remember the idea is to send signals to our body and mind that it’s time to rest and sleep.
A note pad beside your bed is useful to write done worrying thoughts that are going around and round in your head. A relaxation exercise, such as a body scan, can be helpful to calm your body and mind.
Naps are tempting, they can affect your sleep cycle. Save naps for holidays. However, if you need a nap, just try 20 minutes (one sleep cycle). Set your alarm and make sure you have to get up to turn off the alarm.