How to get a good night’s sleep

Trouble sleeping? Follow these simple tips for getting a proper night’s sleep. If, after trying these recommendations you’re still having trouble, consider visiting an alternative medicine practitioner to help you get a naturally good night’s sleep.

Read our article about how complementary therapy can help sleep problems here

‘Sleep Hygiene’ – How To Sleep Well

Go to bed only when you’re tired – If you’re going to bed when you’re still wide awake, even if the hour is late, you’ll struggle to fall asleep. As soon as you stifle a yawn or feel your eyes becoming heavy, that’s the time to hit the hay.

Give yourself 20 minutes to fall asleep – The average time to fall asleep once you get into bed is 20 minutes so if you’re still tossing and turning after that get up and find something tedious to do. Don’t turn all the lights on because your brain will think it’s time to get up, instead, sit in a dimly lit or dark room and read something boring like your tax return.

Avoid napping – Nap too often and you’ll never feel tired when it comes to bedtime. However, for some people an afternoon nap is necessary so if you’re a napper, do it for just one hour and try to nap before 3pm.

Waking and Bedtime – Humans are creatures of habit and work best when we have a regular rhythm to our day. Make sure you wake up at the same time each day and go to bed at the same time. By developing a proper sleep cycle you’ll find you sleep better and have more energy during the day. Try to do this even at the weekend – unless you’re at a party in which case you’ve got a valid excuse.

Don’t go to bed directly after exercising – To get a really good night’s sleep you should take part in some form of regular exercise but don’t do your activity just before it’s your bedtime. Leave a good three or four hours between exercising and going to bed.

Find a bedtime ritual – Everybody has their own ways of winding down before bed so should find something that works for you (as long as it’s relaxing!). Try reading a book, listening to some calming music or drinking a hot drink (not caffeine though).

Bed is for just sleeping (and sex if you’re lucky) – Sleep should be the only activity that you do in bed so switch off the TV and put away the laptop, this way your body will know that bedtime is sleeptime.

The stimulant break – By this we mean a break from caffeine, alcohol and nicotine before going to bed. Allow four to five hours from drinking a cup of coffee/tea, having an alcoholic drink or smoking a cigarette before going to bed so it’s not in your system. Don’t forget that some chocolate contains caffeine too so avoid those chocs and cocoa.

Don’t sleep on an empty stomach – Eating a big meal before going to bed can interfere with sleep as your body has to digest the food which will keep you awake. Similarly, an empty stomach can interfere with your sleep too. Warm milk is traditionally known to induce sleep due to ‘tryptophan’, an amino acid essential to our diet and found in dairy products. Tryptophan is also found in turkey so a few slices or turkey and a glass of warm milk could help you sleep and stop you having an empty stomach.

Room temperature (keep it cool) – A hot bedroom will not help you fall asleep. Keep the room cool and use blankets as well as a duvet to stay warm in bed instead.

Wakey wakey! – When you do wake up, let your body know its morning by facing into the sunlight outside for ten minutes or so. Easier to do in the summer we know but this will set your biological clock properly and make sure you have a good sleep-wake cycle.

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