Naturally regulate your sleep–awake cycle: Do you remember when you first brought your newborn baby home and you had to help them learn about day and night? Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure that helps to regulate your sleep–awake cycle. At night time when it’s dark, your brain should secrete more melatonin, making you sleepy, and during the day it should secrete less so you feel alert. During the day, try to increase your exposure to natural light, take regular breaks in the fresh air and keep the blinds or curtains open. At least an hour before bedtime, put your phone or tablet away and turn off the television; the light suppresses melatonin production. Make sure the room is dark or use an eye mask.
Create a relaxing bedtime atmosphere: Most people sleep best when the room is cool – between 16 and 18 degrees, with adequate ventilation. Try to keep noise to a minimum or invest in decent earplugs to block out unwanted noise. Research shows that sleeping in an uncomfortable bed could rob you of an hour’s sleep per night, so invest in a comfortable bed and good pillows.
Only use your bed for sleeping and sex: This way, when you lie down in bed your body receives a powerful cue that it’s time to sleep. Never, for example, watch television in bed.
Stay away from big meals: Eat your main evening meal at least two hours before you go to bed; otherwise you may overload your digestive system and experience bloating, which makes it difficult to sleep.
Exercise regularly: You don’t need to be sprinting round the block every day, but twenty to thirty minutes daily of exercise that raises your heart rate is a good target to aim for. If you have young children, a brisk walk with the buggy is ideal. Cycling or vigorous housework also count. Aim to finish any vigorous exercise three to four hours before going to bed.
Stick to a sleep schedule: Try to keep regular hours, so you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. This helps to regulate your body clock.
Look for hidden caffeine: A cup (or three!) of coffee is fine in the morning but try to limit your caffeine in takeafter midday. Even the small amounts of caffeine found in chocolate may affect your sleep.
Wear some socks: Swiss researchers found that wearing bed socks helps us go to sleep in half the normal time. When we are about to drop off, the body redirects blood fl ow to our hands and feet; if they are warm, blood vessels can dilate and allow for greater blood fl ow, which helps us nod off.
Limit your alcohol intake: While a nightcap might seem like a good idea and alcohol can initially make
you fall asleep faster, it causes a lot of brain arousal once it’s metabolised, meaning you will wake up more during the night.
Change your sleep mindset: Nothing aggravates sleeplessness more than worrying about it. The more
pressure you put on yourself to sleep, the less likely it is that you will drop off. Focus instead on the idea of
getting rest – and you may be surprised at how quickly you nod off.