In the clinic, I frequently come across people who aren't sleep well. Sleep deprivation and poor sleep quality have significant effects on our daily ability to function and on our long term health.
Back in December, (apologies for the wee break) we shared a post on sleep hygiene, in particular discussing what you can do during the day, to help you sleep better at night.
In this belated follow up, I wanted to share a few habits that you can add to your afternoon and evening routine, to help you catch those quality Zzzzz's.
3-4 hours before bed
Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine 4-6hrs before bed time
Avoid alcohol at least 3 hours before bed time. Though alcohol is a depressant that makes it easy to fall asleep, it affects the quality of sleep. It blocks REM sleep (the most restorative type of sleep), interrupts the circadian rhythm, and contributes to snoring and sleep apnoea by causing muscle relaxation including the muscles of the throat. It is also a diuretic, and therefore increases bathroom trips.
Finish eating 3 hours before bed to give the body time digest before sleeping. It's hard for the body to switch off, if it's still processing dinner. Avoid heavy meals and foods that cause indigestion.
Provide yourself with a quality sleep environment. Comfy bed and pillows, cool temperature, warm blankets, black out curtains and, if needed, use an eye mask and ear plugs
Set a regular daily sleep routine. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This helps to set your bodies internal clock and circadian rhythms.
Create a bed time routine to psychologically prepare your body for sleep. Take a bath, read, perform a few gentle stretches, focus on some breathing exercises or drink camomile tea which has a calming effect.
Avoid stimulating activities such as T.V., loud music, work and emotionally stressful conversations.
Avoid bright overhead lighting and using screens. These can delay the release of melatonin, a hormone needed for sleep. Use floor lamps with yellow globes instead.
Having a bath 1-2 hours before bed raises your body temperature. As your body temperature drops, you will start to feel sleepy.
Write down stressful thoughts or tomorrows to do lists before bed to clear your mind
If you can’t sleep after 15-20 minutes, get up and do something relaxing such as reading or listening to music. No TV and no eating. Return to bed only when you're feeling sleepy. This eliminates tossing, turning and repetitive wandering thoughts.
If you're someone who struggles with sleep, let's talk about it. We have a sleep survey designed to specifically identify which techniques or new habits might make the most difference for you.