Here are a few suggestions* to help you get a good night’s sleep.
- Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, 7 days a week. This will help to reset your “biological clock” and will lead to regular onset of sleep and wake times.
- Sleep only as much as you need to feel refreshed during the following day. Restricting your time in bed helps to deepen your sleep. Excessively long times in bed leads to fragmented and shallow sleep. Get up at your regular time the next day, no matter how little you slept.
- Avoid excessive liquids in the evening and cut down or avoid caffeinated products or beverages throughout the day (coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, chocolate). Even consuming caffeine earlier in the day can cause difficulty falling asleep, shallow sleep or awakenings during the night.
- Avoid alcohol, especially in the evening.
- Smoking may disturb sleep, as nicotine is a stimulant, so try not to smoke during the night when you have trouble falling asleep.
- Train yourself to use the bedroom only for sleeping. This will help to condition your brain to see your bed as a place only for sleeping (not for studying, reading, watching TV or eating).
- Exercise regularly. Exercise makes it easier to fall asleep and to have a deeper sleep. However, try to schedule your exercise times so that they do not occur within 3 hours of your usual bedtime.
- Make sure your bedroom and bed is comfortable and free from light and noise.
- Eat regular meals and try not to go to bed hungry. However, try not to eat any big or heavy meals before bed. Light snacks are okay.
- Ensure that your bedroom is a comfortable temperature.
- Do not “clock-watch”. Place your clock under your bed or turn it facing away from you. Clock-watching can lead to frustration, disappointment, anger and worry, which can then interfere with your sleep.
- Avoid napping during the day. Staying awake during the day helps you to fall asleep at night.
- Do not try to fall asleep. If you are struggling to sleep this will only make the problem worse. Instead, turn on the light, leave your bedroom and try engaging in some non-stimulating activity, like reading a book. Return to bed only once you feel sleepy.
- Try not to take your problems with you to bed. Worrying can interfere with initiating sleep and can also lead to shallow sleep. Find a way to manage your problems so that they don’t come with you to bed. Spend some time earlier in the evening planning out the next day’s activities.
- Try a regular relaxation or meditation practice to aid with falling sleep.
*Please note that these are all suggestions of a general nature to assist with good sleep. If professional assistance is required, please contact me or any other appropriate health care professionals to seek formal advice.