Follow the simple tips below to help get a better nights sleep:
- Use the bedroom only for sleeping and sex. Associate the bedroom with relaxation.
- Avoidance/reduction of caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol before bedtime.
- Aim for some form of regular exercise – no later then 2 hours before bedtime.
- Relaxation before bedtime e.g. a hot bath, relaxing music, light reading.
- Avoid arguments, work related material, discussion/dwelling on of problems near bedtime – have cut off times
- Practice muscle relaxation and self-hypnosis.
- Have only a light snack before bedtime – if hungry.
- Go to bed only when sleepy at first until a regular sleep pattern is resumed.
- If unable to sleep – get up. Write down thoughts/notes in a sleep diary (if a problem keeps you awake or you remember something you need to do/have forgotten to do – write it down then forget about it untill morning – you have written your reminder.), read, practice self-hypnosis. Do not lie in bed worrying that you cannot sleep – this will over stimulate the brain to further awakening. Do not watch the clock, this encourages a stress response. Once the alarm clock has been set for morning there is no need to look at it again until then!
- Go back to bed only when sleepy.
- Keep the bedroom at a well-aired comfortable temperature. Check pillows and bed linen are comfortable – if not, change them.
Get up at a regular time even if sleepy, and avoid napping. This will aid in the return of normal sleep rhythm.
Sleeping well information from my workshops
- Sleep is an essential component to our survival and physical and emotional wellbeing. It is natures’ way of replenishing, rejuvenating, and re energising the mind and body – for recharging our physical and emotional batteries.
- Sleep is for rest and recovery.
- It is a very necessary and vital part of our life and yet can be disturbed, either at particular times of change and stress in our lives or for more prolonged periods following illness – so it will be welcome to know that you can get back into the natural rhythms of sleep.
- Our bodies will take the necessary rest and recovery, which is why if you have not slept during the night you may find yourself catnapping in the afternoon. The body works in 24 hour cycles- known as circadian rhythms, so any time given to napping in the afternoon will be deducted from the nightime – this is why if we have fallen out of our regular routine it is important to try and stay awake the following day.
- As we get older our body clocks are more affected by various internal and external factors. As we get older we do not need as much sleep as our metabolism slows down lessening the need for rest and recovery.
- At night we produce a sleep regulating hormone -Melatonin – the lack of light at night sends a signal to the pineal gland in our brain, which releases this hormone- hence why we sleep at night. According to research- we also have sleep and waking controllers in our brain-these are near to other controllers for temperature, metabolism, and appetite- all of which can affect our ability to sleep, as these can be affected by stress, room temperature.
- Fear can keep us awake- fear that we will never get a good nights sleep again- thus giving our a brain a problem to solve and making it active, and so keeping us awake-.this fear can be dissolved when we distract the conscious mind through pleasant thoughts and deep relaxation routine- a technique I will be showing you later.
It is useful to know:
- Our body will take the necessary rest it requires, whenever it can. So at some point, we will sleep.
- We do not all need 8 hours sleep- we all have a different biological make up and upbringing- for some 4-5 hours is plenty- for others 9 may be required- the average is 8.
- We can get back into a natural rhythm by practicing sleep hygiene techniques. The pale green leaflet I have brought details these for you.
- A sedentary lifestyle affects sleep as we have not used up natural energy for the body to require a certain amount of rest and recovery- so exercise is good- a brisk walk daily?
NB-If you cannot exercise regularly due to ill health or physical constraints then the relaxation technique will provide plenty of replenishment.
- Clock watching will not help you get to sleep, so avoid looking at the clock.
- Have a cut off time for preparing the body for sleep
- No late night heavy discussion, meals or arguments, or problem solving!
- Going over the days problems in bed- not good- instead acknowledge the day’s achievements, what made you smile, and then deep relaxation techniqueDrinking alcohol to help you sleep- that extra night cap will cost- it lessens our ability to reach deep sleep, wakes us early, depresses the central nervous system, and lowers mood, so any perceived benefit is very short lived!
- Also cut down on nicotine and caffeine at nightime, as these are stimulants that keep us awake- that can include hot chocolate as chocolate has caffeine in.
- A warm milky drink however is best as warmed milk contains tryptophan which is a sleep aiding chemical- you can use rice or soy milk if lactose intolerant to produce comforting feelings of wellbeing.
- Prepare for sleep, wind down- this lets your body know each night it is time for sleep- if bed time 11.00pm then prepare from about 9.00pm
- Prepare your bedroom- not too stuffy, just the right temperature- no TV in bed! The bedroom is just for sleep and nuptials.
- Aromatherapy baths or a couple of drops on your pillow will also send a positive signal to relax and sleep.
- If you wake up- don’t just lie there clock watching- either get up, and make a drink, or do the relaxation technique that you used to help you get to sleep-
The relaxation technique- do the self hypnosis routine for sleep. Whilst your conscious mind is focusing on a pleasant scene it is not focusing on problems as the mind can only think about one thing at a time.
Further reading for sleeping well
I can recommend a useful book by Chris Idzikowski– renowned sleep expert and director of the Edinburgh sleep centre- entitled- “Sleep well”.