Do you toss and turn all night? Lie awake wondering when you’ll fall asleep? A simple change to your bedtime routine can make a huge difference. You’re probably thinking, yeah right “in your dreams”.

Cut back on caffeine, alcohol and nicotine

Relying on caffeine such as coffee, tea, chocolate and cola when you’re tired can stimulate your brain and prevent you from falling asleep. So choose decaffeinated or herbal varieties instead. Similarly, having that nightcap or late night cigarette to unwind can be detrimental to your sleep. As an alternative, try listening to calming music, reading a book, having a bath or meditating.

Screen-free time

Watching TV, playing computer games and checking your phone all involve blue light which can actually speed up your brain. Introducing an hour of screen-free time before bed can help naturally prepare your brain and body for sleep.

Say no to naps

Taking a nap during the day can seem like a great way to catch up on lost sleep but can upset your body’s sleep-wake cycle. Instead of taking a nap, opt to do a relaxation exercise and stick to a consistent wake- and bedtime routine as this will help regulate your body to its natural rhythm.

Stress less about the clock

Checking the clock when you’re in bed can stress you out about not sleeping. So cover up that clock and try focusing on something else. Lying in bed visualising a peaceful place, breathing deeply or relaxing your muscles are just as good as sleeping.

Sleep friendly bed and bedroom

It’s important that your bed and bedroom are conducive to sleep. For example, make sure your bed is used for sleep and sex only and your pillow and mattress are comfortable. Lastly, make sure your bedroom’s dark and quiet enough and not too hot or cold.

Resources

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/how-to-sleep-better.htm
https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-tools-tips/healthy-sleep-tips
http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/getting/overcoming/tips
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sleep/art-20048379

Grace Pope
Clinical Psychologist

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