1: Reduce your intake of caffeine.
Caffeine is a stimulant and should be avoided in the hours before sleep. Tea, coffee, cola, energy drinks, and even chocolate contain caffeine. So, if you are fond of a cuppa before bed makes sure it is of the decaffeinated variety. I advise people not to drink any caffeine after 3 pm.
2: Avoid alcohol.
A drink in the evening may seem to help you fall asleep, but it disrupts the quality of your sleep. In order to awake feeling refreshed we need to move through all the phases of sleep. REM or rapid eye movement sleep is where we dream, and alcohol can make it less likely we pass into this phase leaving our sleep disrupted and causing us to awake groggy and unrested.
3: Have a regular wake-sleep cycle.
Going to bed and getting up at the same time no matter what the day, is conducive to a better night’s sleep. Most who sleep less during the working week and then try to catch up at the weekend will find that they are more likely to suffer from sleep problems. If you get five hours of sleep all week and then try to get 10 at the weekends your body clock is constantly trying to adjust. The extra hours at the weekend may make it hard to sleep on Sunday night leaving you to start the week feeling tired and drained. The idea is to try to get up at the same time at the weekends as well as during the week in order to regulate your sleep cycle.
4: Pay careful attention to the atmosphere of your room:
Make sure the room is dark. Hang blackout curtains and blinds. Avoid all blue light. Computer and phone screens and even clock faces have been shown to disrupt sleep. Turn all appliances off and face the clock away from you. Keep the room cool. The ideal temperature is between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius. Think of your room as a cave so keep it cool, dark and quiet.
The sleep-inducing hormone melatonin is extremely light-sensitive and may not be produced unless it is completely dark.
Those living in urban areas are used to light pollution and electric lights have contributed to disrupting the body clock as bright lights signal to the brain that it’s time for wakefulness and activity.
You can lightproof your room by buying black-out lining for your curtains and avoiding all LED lights from electrical devices such as phones and clocks. Another solution is to wear a sleep mask that is light and comfortable and yet thick enough to block out all light.
5: Make sure you have a comfortable bed:
If you find that you sleep better in other people’s houses or in a hotel then you should examine your bed. The National Bed Federation (UK&Ire) recommends that you change your mattress every eight-10 years. This is a big purchase so take it seriously. Don’t be embarrassed to lie on a bed in a shop for up to 20 minutes. If you share a bed with a partner, they should shop for it with you too – and ensure that you roll over so you can see how the mattress reacts to both your sleeping patterns. Buy the best bed you can afford – it’s worth it. Pay attention to your choice of pillows. These should be appropriate to your body weight and the way you sleep. Consider layering blankets and throws so you can adjust the bed depending on your body temperature. Keeping your feet cool by sticking them out the side can also help some people too.
It is also important to keep your mattress clean and hygienic. Mattress technology available includes those with probiotics that stop dust mites and bacteria and Sleepfresh Technology for anti-allergen control and Coolcell foam. Another option is Zero Gravity technology which gives a sense of weightlessness, as though you are floating on air while lying on the mattress.
It is important to remember atmosphere and routine is important for a good night’s sleep at all ages.