It is so frustrating to get into to bed and be unable to fall asleep. 25% of the population in the UK suffer some form of sleep disorder that results in excessive daytime sleepiness. That means that 1 in 4 of us do not sleep well. If you are suffering from a lack of sleep, there are some things that you can do that will help you, but please do be prepared to consult a doctor if this is becoming a serious problem. Here are some top tips that sleep experts recommend that will help you to sleep well.
Have a regular sleep schedule
Set a regular bedtime and a time to get up. The weekends may appear to be a good time to stay up late and have a lie in the next day, but this is very disruptive to getting good sleep. Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day is a good way to get your body used to a pattern of sleep. If you need to change your bedtime, for example if you are starting a new job, then get used to the new time by making a change of say 15 minutes a day to your schedule until you reach the new time. If you need to make up for lost sleep, take a nap rather than sleep late. A 20 minute nap can work wonders. Do not nap for more than that though as you will go into a deeper sleep and feel worse for it when you wake up.
Create a sleeping environment
TV in the bedroom may seem a good idea, but it is one of those things that can cause your brain to dissociate your bed from sleep. Your bedroom needs to be a calm quiet and preferably dark place. If you have undue high noise from inside or outside can you isolate that noise and reduce it? Outside noises may be difficult to overcome although double glazing may help. Ear plugs can be worn if all else fails. If you have light streaming in through the windows, a denser fabric for your curtains or a blind should help. Temperature variation can also affect our sleep, so to sleep well make sure that your bedroom is around 18 degrees celcius with adequate ventilation. Using a wool duvet will help you regulate your body temperature.
Eating and exercise
Avoid eating a heavy meal within 2 hours of bedtime. Fatty foods make your stomach work harder and can keep you awake during the night. Many people have the view that an alcoholic night cap will help you sleep. It may help you fall asleep faster but it reduces sleep quality. If you are hungry, just have a light snack to take away the hungry feeling.
Caffeine is a well known stimulant and can affect sleep quality even 10 to 12 hours after drinking it. Too much liquid before going to bed is likely to cause you to have to wake up during the night for a trip to the toilet. Smoking kills and it can also affect your sleep. Regular exercise in today’s sedentary world is vital for our overall health and can help you sleep well. Whilst exercise is really good, don’t do it just before going to bed as this is likely to stimulate your body and raise your temperature, heart rate and relaxation levels.
Avoid stress and get outdoors
Before going to bed make sure that you unwind, avoid stress and relax. Avoid using the computer, watching TV, working until the last minute of the day, or anything that over stimulates your brain. Taking a warm bath, reading by a soft light or listening to soothing music before going to bed can help you unwind and help you to sleep better. Sadly many people work within indoor environments with little or no natural light. Having exposure to natural light has good effect on our ability to sleep well. If you work indoors use your breaks to get exposure to natural light. You might also be able to take a brisk walk which will increase the amount of exercise you do too.