10 Great Ideas to Sleep Well: All Night, Every Night
Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning. This isn’t just to get into a routine (though that helps too), but it limits your sleep so that when you go to bed at night you feel sleepy and don’t lie awake tossing and turning. When you’re deciding what time you should go to bed and get up, go for the minimum amount of sleep you need: if you think your ideal is 8 hours, knock an hour off so you only allow yourself 7: try it for at least a week or two, and then if it really isn’t working, add a little bit of time – go to bed 15 minutes earlier or get up 15 minutes later, and try this for another week, adjusting until you find the right balance.
Bed is For Sleeping In
Apart from sex, your bed should not be for anything else: banish the TV, read your book in a different room, and if you have a laptop that you can’t live without, close it down before you get into bed, and if you wake up during the night and absolutely must send an email, get up and go into a different room to do it.
Have A Warm Bath Before Bed
The warm water will relax your muscles, and when you get out of the bath your body temperature will drop a couple of degrees, which will encourage sleepiness. But make sure you have a nice warm bathrobe to put on when you get out of the bath, because if you let yourself get chilly it will have the opposite effect and keep you awake.
Can’t relax when you get into bed? Try relaxation exercises – focus on each part of your body in turn, breathing regularly and comfortably. Release the muscles a little more on every out-breath: so focus on your feet and breathe a couple of times, deliberately letting your muscles and tendons relax, and then move on to your ankles, then calves, and so on, until your whole body is relaxed.
Let Yourself Drift
Relax your mind. It’s not just your muscles that need to unwind before you can get a good night’s sleep. If your thoughts are racing try practicing some ‘meditation lite’, and focus on your breathing. Let go of thoughts by allowing them to drift through your mind without attaching any importance or emotions to them. Most people find it incredibly difficult to ‘not think’, or to even slow down their busy mind, so at first try replacing any worrying or stressful thoughts with neutral, pleasant ones.
Find yourself a ‘sleep soundtrack’. If you feel cosy and safe in your snug bedroom when there’s a thunderstorm outside, download one from the Internet. If you are lulled by plain ‘white noise’, try playing it as you settle down for the night; or perhaps you like gentle classical music or the sound of the sea. You can find lots of great soundtracks that cost only pennies or are available for free – surf the Net to see if you can find one that soothes your soul.
Too Hot, Too Cold, Or Just Right?
Keep your bedroom at a pleasant temperature. The ideal for most people is around 18C (about 65F), but if you can’t get the room temperature right, adjust your bedding - in summer try sleeping under sheets or a lighter duvet with a low tog rating, and in winter have an extra blanket or throw-cover handy to add warmth so you don’t have to swelter, or shiver, in silence!
Spend fifteen minutes pampering yourself before you turn in for the night. Treat your hands and feet to a massage with lightly scented lotion: the repetitiveness and soothing motion will help you to feel drowsy.
Chicken Soup For The ... Er, Stomach
Make sure you’re eating well. Even minor deficiencies can negatively affect your sleep, so get your five a day fruit and veg, and if you’re vegetarian make sure you get iron and B vitamins, because lack of these can cause insomnia and disturbed sleep patterns.
Open Your Horizons. Or At Least A Window
Air your room out. Maybe you don't like to actually sleep with the window open, but try to open it for an hour or two every day to stop stuffiness and to let oxygen back into the room. Plants help to freshen the air too, so place one or two on your windowsill.