Good sleep habits

Published in MedicinesTalk

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Give these ‘habits’ a try if you’re having trouble getting a good night’s sleep. You may need to try many of them before finding some that work for you. Don’t forget, it will take time and practice before they become habits. In the long term, developing good sleep habits is usually a better way of overcoming sleep problems than using medicines.

Reduce your daily caffeine intake and avoid caffeine drinks after lunch time.

Set your body clock

Our internal body clock controls our daily cycle of sleeping and waking. You can help to set your body clock by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, regardless of how well you slept the previous night.

If you can’t get to sleep within 20 minutes, get up and do something relaxing in another room until you feel sleepy again. Persist with this routine until you develop a regular sleep pattern.

Sunlight helps to set your body clock, so try to get some sunshine every day.

Be active

Doing some physical activity during the day makes it easier to fall asleep and improves the quality of your sleep. However, don’t exercise too late in the day as this can make it harder to get to sleep.

Avoid naps

Avoid having a nap during the day. If you do nap, restrict your nap to no more than 20 minutes, before 3 pm. 

Avoid stimulants

Reduce your daily caffeine intake, and avoid caffeine drinks, such as tea, coffee, energy drinks and cola, after lunch time. Avoid smoking late in the evening.

Avoid alcohol

Alcohol before bedtime may help you to doze off. However, it will also disturb your normal sleep rhythm, so you won’t tend to sleep as well.

Have a bedtime routine

Get your body into ‘going to sleep’ mode by having a regular ‘going to bed’ routine in the hour or so before bedtime. Your routine might include things like having a light bedtime snack, having a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to the radio.

Be comfortable

Keep your bedroom dark. Even dim lights from a television or computer screen can make it harder to sleep.

Keep the temperature of your bedroom and bed comfortable, not too warm and not too cold.

Relax your mind

You can’t sleep well if you’re not mentally relaxed. Try not to take your day-time stress, anger or work to bed with you.

If you can’t relax because you’re chronically worried, stressed or angry, try learning some relaxation techniques to help you ‘switch off’, or seek help from a GP or counsellor.

Avoid doing work-like activities that need concentration late in the evening, for example, working on a computer. Also, don’t do these activities in bed — keep your bed as the place to sleep.

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