You Can Sleep Better
A good night’s sleep sets you up for a good day. Waking bleary eyed and unrested is a grim prospect and lots of us worry about not being able to sleep. Last time we ran through the factors which can affect sleep and today we are looking at what you can do during the day to make sure, when you go to bed, you drift into that wonderful world of refreshing, deep, revitalising sleep.
- During the day make sure you have regular exercise, a good brisk 30 minute walk sometime in the day is really helpful but don’t try to do strenuous exercise in the couple of hours before you actually go to bed.
- Try to establish a fixed time for going to bed. Set an alarm to wake up, even if you feel you haven’t had enough sleep.
- Avoid heavy meals at least 2 hours before going to bed and ideally try to have your main meal in the middle of the day. Alcohol is not advisable in the 2 hours or so before you go to bed and excess alcohol can make you fall into a deep sleep quickly but wake up 3-4 hours later feeling wide awake. Nicotine can affect your ability to go to sleep although most heavy smokers will have a cigarette before they go to bed which has become their pattern. Look out for caffeine, many of us will have realised that coffee after dinner spells out sleeplessness in the night but don’t forget that tea has caffeine, as do many soft drinks such as Coca Cola. Caffeine can also stay in your system for much longer than we realise and I would advocate stopping drinking caffeinated drinks 5 or 6 hours before you want to go to sleep.
- Routine is crucial. We all know how important it is to establish a routine to help a baby or young child recognise that its bedtime and time to go to sleep. Have a relaxing bed time routine. This can be the best part of the day, look forward to reading your favourite book, listen to soft music, perhaps have a warm, not too hot, fragrant bath Consider a warm milky drink, Horlicks is considered the best, hot chocolate is not recommended .
- Think of your bedroom as the most delectable, comfortable area in your home. Consider your mattress: the vogue for super hard mattresses is fortunately gone, your mattress should be supportive but not so hard that your bones feel uncomfortable. As we get older we have less supportive, connective tissue and sometimes less fat and our arthritic creaky knees and hips need a bit more cushioning support than a really hard orthopaedic mattress will provide. You must change your mattress at least every ten years, they become saggy, unsupportive and uncomfortable. Your pillow should be the most expensive one you can afford. If you don’t suffer with allergies a goose down feather pillow plumped up for your head to sink into is a blissful experience. If you have house dust mite allergy you will need to use manmade and many people find the foam memory pillows work well for them. Your duvet should be light and cosy, it should gently wrap around you but light enough for you to stick a leg out or an arm to maintain the right temperature during the course of the night. You will need to alter your bedding according to the seasons and remember the delight of slipping under a freshly laundered, dried on the line, cover.