Top tips for better sleep
Professor Colin Espie
Professor Colin Espie, co-founder of the Sleepio – a sleep improvement programme, has been researching sleep and insomnia for over 30 years, holding professorial appointments at Universities across the world.
He has published over 200 scientific papers and five books, and co-founded Sleepio to share his programme with everyone.
1. Establish a positive bed-sleep connection
"Keep gadgets out of the bedroom. It's the sleep place. Re-learn to fall asleep quickly by going to bed when you are already sleepy and putting the light out. In the late evening, as it gets dark, our brains already begin preparing us for sleep by producing a hormone called ‘melatonin'. Light at night may inhibit the production of melatonin, making it more difficult to get to sleep and stay asleep."
2. Work on your general health
"Exercise can be good for us, but not in the four hours before bedtime if you want it to help your sleep as well as your health in general. Fit and healthy people generally sleep better than unhealthy or unfit people, and some studies have found the time spent in the deeper stages of sleep increase after exercise. Likewise, too much caffeine, and nicotine from cigarettes, are bad for us. Both stimulate the nervous system, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night."
3. Let sleep come
"If you can't sleep, don't panic. Trying to sleep only keeps us awake and upset. Accept being awake, relax and let sleep come back. If it doesn't then get up for a while and do something you enjoy, like reading in the living room. Go back to bed when you feel sleepy again."
4. Leave the day behind
"Take time to think about the day, plan tomorrow and set your mind at rest each evening to help you let go of worries once in bed. Thinking is not a bad thing but a racing mind in bed is very upsetting. Do your thinking as a waking activity. Make time for it when you are wide awake and in another room. Keep the bedroom as the sleep place."
5. Invest in your sleep
"Sleep is one of life's essentials. Don't cut corners. Get into a good regular sleep pattern and you will feel healthier in the daytime. Develop a healthy family attitude with sleep too. Also many of us change our mobile phones and TVs more often than our beds and bedding! Try out lots of options to find what works for you."
Emma Kenny is a qualified and highly experienced practitioner with Psychological and Counselling qualifications recognised by the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy and the British Psychological Society.
Emma shares her quick top tips on getting a good night's sleep.
1. "Try deep relaxation or meditation before bed. This helps the body unwind and can release the day's general anxieties which aids good rest."
2. "General healthy living. Make sure you have exercise in your life, ideally get white light on your skin (walk the dog, go out in your dinner hour) to aid vitamin D and regulate melatonin levels in the brain. Eat healthily and try to create a positive bed time routine."
3. "No electrical or cyber stimulation for at least an hour before bed (no TV, Facebook etc.) also try not to have electrics in the room like TV."
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Last updated: about 3 years ago