Insomnia affects most of us at some time, and can be very difficult to break. So if any of the statements below apply to you, perhaps the simple tips we have put together will help.
- Do you have difficulty falling asleep at night?
- Is your mind racing, thinking about work or personal matters?
- Do you wake in the middle of the night and then can’t get back to sleep?
- Is your sleep frequently interrupted?
- Do you wake in the morning feeling tired or just groggy?
- Do you have neck, back or joint pains when you wake?
Research shows that there are no hard and fast rules about the number of hours’ sleep you need. We are all different, and some people find six hours or less is sufficient, others need nine hours. Remember, the amount of sleep you need will change during your life. What is important is that your sleep is healthy sleep, when your mind and body are relaxed and you wake feeling refreshed.
1. The bedroom
Make sure your bedroom is well ventilated and the lighting is soft. A too hot or too cold bedroom is uncomfortable, but airflow is important, with no draughts.
2. Keep a regular sleeping pattern
Anyone who has suffered from jetlag knows only too well the difficulty in returning the body clock to a new time zone. Try and keep to a regular sleeping pattern – if you are an early riser, make sure you don’t go to bed too late; if you are a bit of a night owl, don’t plan to get up too early.
3. A good eating regime
Avoid heavy, rich meals at least 3 hours before bedtime. It takes longer for the digestive system to break down a meal high in fats, and taking that heavy uncomfortable feeling to bed is likely to delay sleep. A light snack such as a piece of fruit or a chicken sandwich is best late at night if you are hungry.
4. Alcohol and caffeine in moderation - or not at all!
Alcohol and caffeine are stimulants, so avoid these at least two hours before bedtime. The old adage of a nightcap before retiring is better served as a glass of warm milk or herbal tea.
It is important that you have a good daily exercise regime, but avoid strenuous activity for at least three hours before bed to allow your body time to unwind before sleep. Some gentle stretches or yoga can be beneficial.
Get plenty of sunlight during the day to keep your Vitamin D levels up, taking the necessary sun screen precautions. Sunlight is also good for the retina, but never look directly into the sun.
7. Day naps - are they helpful?
Should be avoided, if possible, tempting as they may be. If a nap is necessary, keep them very short, say 10 minutes. Too much sleep during the day will impact on your sleep at night
8. Mental stimulation
Avoid computer work, checking emails, updating Facebook and even the late news on TV for the last hour before bed. Let your mind unravel! Read a book or e-Reader but not on a back-lit device such as an iPad.
There are plenty of excellent relaxation courses on the market, as well as free apps. But do check that they are authentic, or get advice from sleep specialists. Whether it’s listening to a soothing voice guiding you through relaxation techniques, gentle music or sounds of the sea, these can be very beneficial.
10. Transfer your stress!
Keep pencil and paper beside your bed. If you are inclined to wake up in the middle of the night, head spinning with ideas or tasks to be done, write them down. This simple transfer of thoughts to paper should help you return to sleep.
With all the above in mind, it is so important that you have the correct mattress and pillow to support your frame and provide comfort and pressure relief. If your mattress is too firm or too soft, or just old and has lost its shape, your sleep and wellbeing will be affected. If your pillow has flattened and is no longer supporting your head, your spine might be out of alignment creating pressure on your neck and shoulders.
Mattress & Pillow Science. The healthy sleep specialists.