More tips to improve your sleep

Importance of Being Sleepy - pt7: more tips

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Last time we looked at what you can do through the day to improve the likelihood of getting a good night’s sleep. In this post I’d like to share what I’ve found out about the pre-bed routine. Turns out it’s not as simple as just brushing your teeth! (check out the rest of the blog series here)

1.     Establish a regular routine

Routine is crucial to getting the sleep you need. Humans are creatures of habit and nobody likes change, so establish when your bed time is and work backwards so you’re always winding down in the hour or so before you hit the hay.

2.     Eat right

Munching on an indigestion-inducing pepperoni pizza 40 minutes before you go to bed sadly just isn’t a great idea. If you find you are peckish in the hour or so before lights-out, raid the cupboards for simple carbohydrates, low sugar options and milky drinks. If you fancy a hot chocolate make sure you check the sugar and caffeine content before you reach for the mug. 3.     Avoid stimulation

Brightly lit screens like the TV, laptop, tablet, and even the mobile phone, can replicate the effects of the bright light of day so try to avoid them in the lead up to bedtime. The aim is to slow down the body, so dashing about with the hoover and getting all the cleaning done late at night probably isn’t the best approach, either (cheers to that!). Stick to relaxing activities such as reading or listening to gentle music instead. Make sure that the light available is sufficient for whatever you’re doing so you’re not straining your eyes, but consider using a lamp rather than all the main lights.

4.     Beware caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and other stimulatory chemicals

While some of these stimulants can, on occasion, help us to fall asleep, the likelihood is that if we ingest them too close to bedtime we’re going to be awake again in a couple of hours, and on and off throughout the night. Be aware that caffeine can be hidden in a lot of different products (fizzy drinks, hot chocolate, some painkillers) and like other stimulants can take several hours to stop affecting your system. If you’re thinking about giving up smoking altogether, here could be a great place to start.

5.     Make a list

If you’re prone to mulling over all of life’s problems as soon as your head hits the pillow, take a few minutes to write down whatever’s bothering you on a piece of paper, and some small action you can take the following day to improve or amend that situation. This is a great little tactic which can help to lull the brain into a more secure and relaxed state, knowing that any imminent threats or pressures are under control. Keep a notepad and pen next to the bed for anything that starts to worry you during the night. Jot it down to deal with in the morning.

Really craving that pizza now… (more sleep tips tomorrow)

Keep an eye out for the next blog.

Dave Algeo

Motivational Speaker on resilience and men's mental health.
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