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.
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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.
Learn more on the health importance of getting a good night’s sleep
Volume three provides a different perspective on the normal issues relating to your health, such as exercise, nutrition and relaxation. Everything we do in life has some form of influence to our subconscious, and these are great examples. Understand why maintaining a social lifestyle does wonders for your mental health and overall wellbeing, learn the positives stemmed from generosity and volunteering, as well as the importance of getting quality sleep. Read more on Volume 3 – The Why’s of Goodness.
Volume 3 is titled “The Why’s of Goodness”, comprising 38 pages the volume covers three distinct chapters on why you need a good night’s sleep, why being social is good for your health, and why being generous after 60 is good for you.
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