Ten Rules for Better Sleeping
1. Get regular daily exercise. This helps to deepen sleep.
2. Remove noise as much as possible, particularly if the noise is intermittent. In certain situations, this may require some form of soundproofing or ear plugs.
3. Maintain a comfortable temperature in the bedroom and in particular, avoid excessive heat.
4. Avoid caffeine containing beverages (coffee, tea, cola, chocolate) after 2pm. in the afternoon.
5. Avoid nicotine prior to sleep. Alcohol can help you to relax but is addictive and should not be used regularly to induce sleep.
6. Sleep as much as is necessary to feel fresh during the following day. Too much time in bed can cause fragmented and light sleep.
7. Keep a regular time for waking up and getting up in the morning. This strengthens the natural rhythms of the body.
8. When trying to go to sleep, lie in a comfortable position in the bed and relax all your muscles. Focus your mind on a pleasurable experience (e.g. walking on the beach or in the mountains), and keep your mind fixed on this. You will not sleep if your mind is full of worrying thoughts about family, work, finance, etc.
9. Do not try to force sleep. If you cannot get to sleep, get up and move around, read a book or do something different. Do NOT have a cup of tea! After a period, turn off the light and try again to fall asleep.
10. If these measures fail, take an occasional sleeping pill, particularly if this helps to break a period of insomnia. Remember, however, that sleeping tablets are addictive if they are taken for more than a few weeks. Talk to your GP if you have sleep problems for more than two weeks. It may be the sign of an underlying medical or psychological problem such as anxiety or depression.
Dr David Buckley