Everyone struggles to sleep now and again, whether it’s because of bad dreams or stress. However, if you’re finding bad sleep is a recurring problem for you, then you should consider some of the following steps to help you get a better night’s sleep.
Establish a bedtime routine
Have a set time you wake up and go to sleep everyday so that your body can get into a routine of when it feels tired and when you need to be awake. After a couple of days it should help make going to sleep easier. Try to maintain this routine, even on weekends, otherwise you risk disrupting you internal body clock.
Ensure where you’re sleeping is comfortable
Make sure that the temperature, light exposure and noise levels of your room are all adjusted to suit you.
If you like sleeping in a warm room then leave the heating on for a while – but never sleep with the heating on as it can irritate your body as your temperature drops during sleep. Or if you prefer the room to be cooler, leave your bedroom window on the catch whilst you get yourself ready for bed.
If you like a small amount of light in your room to sleep then invest in a night light – they give off just enough light for you to feel comfortable without it keeping you awake. Whereas if you prefer the dark then invest in some black out blinds to keep street light glares out.
Sometimes a noisy clock or snorer next to you can also make it impossible to sleep. Try removing the clock from the room or wearing ear plugs to block out the unwanted noise. Or if you find yourself dreading the silence of the night, there are plenty of apps and CD’s you can buy that play relaxing music designed to help you fall into a natural state of sleep.
Relax before you go to bed
This means that you limit TV and smartphone use before bed – these devices have a backlight which wakes the brain up and keep it active. If you want to use your phone, turn your brightness down to limit light exposure and make it easier you for fall to sleep afterwards.
Try listening to some calming music when you sleep, taking a warm (not hot) bath, doing some breathing exercises, reading a book or even doing some yoga stretches! All of these will help you to feel more relaxed before getting into bed.
Resolve stress and worries before bed
If the stress from work is keeping you up, then anxiety could be the cause of your sleep problems. Try writing everything down that you’re worried about before bed, resolve any fall outs and create a to-do list for the next day. This will both clear and organise your mind; allowing for a more relaxed sleep.
Watch what you eat and drink before bed
Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and large meals are all things that will keep your body awake for a long period of time after consuming. If you’re struggling to sleep, try cutting these out of your evenings and replacing them with water and light meals, or by eating earlier.
Keep a sleep diary
Your diary can help you isolate the problem preventing you from sleeping. You should include:
- When you went to sleep
- When you woke up
- How many times you woke up in the night and why
- What your dreams were like: nice, nightmares or if you can’t remember
- What you’d done the day before
- What you’d eaten the day before
- How much exercise you’d done and when
- Your state of mind before you fell asleep
This will help you keep track of which factor is most affecting your sleep, so that you can use some of the steps above to help you resolve them. Tackle one factor at a time and remember to stay relaxed if you want to regain a healthy sleeping pattern.
If you’re suffering with sleep problems and have been for more than one month; book a visit to your local GP to get further help and advice.