14 March 2019   

3 min read
14 tips to develop good sleeping habits

Persistent trouble falling asleep at night or feeling sleepy during the day is not a normal part of the ageing process, and something can be done. Some simple lifestyle changes can make a world of difference to your quality of sleep.

Here are 14 tips to help improve on your sleeping habits.

 

1. Keep regular hours

Going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time every day will program your body to sleep better. Choose a time when you’re most likely to feel sleepy. It’s important not to oversleep, as well as keeping afternoon naps to a minimum of 20 minutes, if at all.

 

2. Create a restful sleeping environment

Your bedroom should be kept for rest and sleep. Keep it as quiet and dark as possible. It should be neither too hot nor too cold. Temperature, lighting and noise should be controlled so that the bedroom environment helps you to fall, and stay, asleep.

 

3. Avoid bright lights and screens

Avoid working on a computer, tablet or smartphone late in the evening. Remove brightly lit digital clocks from the bedroom.

 

4. Make sure that your bed is comfortable

It’s difficult to get restful sleep on a mattress that’s too soft or too hard, or a bed that’s too small or old. If you have a pet that sleeps in the room with you, consider moving it somewhere else if it often makes noise or jumps on you through the night.

 

5. Exercise regularly

Moderate exercise on a regular basis, such as swimming, walking or running, can help relieve some of the tension built up over the day. However, make sure that you don’t do vigorous exercise too close to bedtime as it may keep you awake. It is recommended not to exercise up to 3 hours before bed.

 

 6. Less caffeine

Cut down on stimulants such as caffeine in tea or coffee, especially in the evening. They interfere with the process of falling asleep, and they prevent deep sleep. The effects of caffeine can last a long time (up to 24 hours), so the chances of it affecting sleep are significant. Instead, have a warm, milky drink or herbal tea.

 

7. Don’t over-indulge

Too much food or alcohol, especially late at night, can interrupt your sleep patterns. Alcohol may help you to fall asleep initially, but it will disrupt your sleep later on in the night.

 

8. Don’t smoke

Smoking is bad for sleep. Smokers take longer to fall asleep, they wake up more frequently, and they often have more disrupted sleep.

 

9. Relax before going to bed

Have a warm bath, listen to quiet music or do some gentle yoga to relax the mind and body. Try to do this at least 30 minutes before bed. Your doctor may be able to recommend a helpful relaxation CD.

 

10. Write away your worries

Deal with worries or a heavy workload by making lists of things to be tackled the next day. If you tend to lie in bed thinking about tomorrow’s tasks, set aside time before bedtime to review the day and make plans for the next day. The goal is to avoid doing these things, or worrying about tomorrow’s tasks, when you’re in bed trying to sleep.

 

11. Don’t worry in bed, instead get up for 10 minutes

If you wake up in the night and can’t get back to sleep within 15 minutes or so, get out of bed and do an activity that requires your hands and your head, like a jigsaw puzzle or a colouring book, says Richard Wiseman, professor for the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University if Hertfordshire and author of Night School: Wake up to the power of sleep. Or even try reading a book, listening to music or meditating until you feel sleepy again, and then return to bed. Stay away from the TV and digital screens, whose blue light has been proven to suppress melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone.

 

12. Hide your clock

You toss and turn, trying to fall asleep, watching the minutes tick toward morning on your bedside clock. Does this scenario sound familiar? Do yourself a favour: Hide the clock. Constantly checking the time only increases your stress, making it harder to turn down the dial on your nervous system and fall asleep. “If you stare at the clock, it increases your stress and worry about not falling asleep,” says Meltzer.

 

13. Picture your favourite place

Rather than counting sheep, visualise an environment that makes you feel calm and happy. The key to success is thinking of a scene that’s engaging enough to distract you from your thoughts and worries for a while. In an Oxford University study published in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy, insomniacs who were instructed to imagine a relaxing scene, such as a beach or a waterfall, fell asleep 20 minutes faster than insomniacs who were told to count sheep or do nothing special at all. “As adults, finding ways to manage stress can get lost, but it is so important,” says Meltzer.

 

14. Wear socks to bed

Researchers from a Swiss study published in the journal Nature observed that warm feet and hands were the best predictor of rapid sleep onset. In the study, participants placed a hot water bottle at their feet, which widened the blood vessels on the surface of the skin, thereby increasing heat loss. Shifting blood ow from your core to your extremities cools down your body, working in concert with melatonin.

 

Source:

– NHS, 10 tips to beat insomnia. July 2014. Read more

– Huffington Post, 15 Science-Backed Ways To Fall Asleep Faster. August 2015. Read more

This article was written by 60 Plus Club and republished with their permission, you can find the original article here: https://www.60plusclub.com.au/health/14-tips-to-develop-good-sleeping-habits/