The art of good sleep

  1. Relax your mind – Practice this for ten minutes each night. Breathe, using your abdomen not your chest, through your nose for three seconds, then breathe out for three seconds. Pause for three seconds before breathing in again. Some people find that lavender oil, valerian or other herbs help them to sleep.
  2. Write down your thoughts, to do list and/or worries. This will help clear your mind and reduce worry.
  3. Get up if you find yourself tossing and turning. Abandon the bedroom and find something enjoyable and absorbing to do. Jigsaws are perfect. Don’t go back to bed until you begin to feel sleepy.
  4. Exercise regularly – Regular exercise is a great way to improve your sleep. Just be careful not to do it close to bed time as exercise produces stimulants that stop the brain from relaxing quickly.
  5. Create a calm bedroom environment – Avoid turning it into an entertainment center with televisions, computers and stereos.
  6. Avoid alcohol – It’s fine to have a nightcap, but too much alcohol can make you restless. Drinking is also more likely to lead to snoring which can restrict airflow into the lungs. This reduces oxygen in your blood which disturbs your sleep and contributes to your hangover.
  7. Avoid caffeine – Caffeine is a stimulant which can stay in your system for many hours.
  8. Eat right – Eating a large heavy meal too close to bedtime will interfere with your sleep.  Spicy or fatty foods may cause heartburn and foods containing tyramine (bacon, cheese, ham, aubergines, pepperoni, raspberries avocado, nuts, soy sauce, red wine) might keep you awake at night.
  9. Set a regular schedule – Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. If you feel you haven’t slept well, resist the urge to sleep in longer than normal; getting up on schedule keeps your body in its normal wake-up routine. Most of us have a natural dip in alertness between 2 – 4pm. A 15 minute nap when you’re tired can be a very effective way of staying alert throughout the day.
  10. See a doctor if your problem continues – Most sleep disorders can be treated effectively.