Getting a good night’s sleep is an important factor in our wellbeing but many of us suffer from sleeplessness. Sometimes this is short lived and it soon passes. At other times it can become a more prolonged due to pain, medication or emotional factors.
Whatever the cause there are a few things we can try which may help to restore our sleep pattern:
wind down - after a busy day we need time to switch off and relax before going to bed. Getting changed into something comfortable helps body recognises the change of pace. Do something relaxing like take a bath, read or listen to music. Make a hot drink such as milk or chamomile tea
avoid stimulants - computers, high intensity exercise, electronic games, caffeine and alcohol all stimulate us, either physically or mentally. Try to avoid these things later into the evening so that the body has a chance to calm down before bed time
don’t go to bed if you’re not tired - this may sound obvious but sometimes we feel we ought to go to bed because of what the clock says. Try staying up a bit longer until you feel sleepy and do something relaxing
practice relaxation - we all have different was to relax and its good to discover what ours is so we can try to incorporate it into the evening. It may be yoga, massage or meditation or it could be something less formal like deep breathing or listening to music. Whatever it is, relaxation can be a great help in slowing us down and preparing the body and mind for sleep
keep a pen and paper by your bed - so often when we start to relax in bed our head begins to fill with thoughts, concerns and things we need to do. When this happens write these things down. This gets them out of our head and is also a reminder of things to deal with in the morning. Once these thoughts are safely committed to paper it allows our mind to switch off, allowing us to drift off to sleep
if you’re not asleep in 20 minutes get up - try to keep calm and relaxed. Take a walk round the house, make a warm drink (not tea or coffee) or watch the night sky, then return to bed. This can be enough to relax us and allow us to drift off to sleep and preventing that tossing and turning for hours
review your bedroom - we need a relaxing environment to sleep in away from the clutter and busyness of daily life, a comfortable bed and a cool atmosphere. Take a little time to make the bedroom a place that feels peaceful and inviting
get some exercise - we can often feel mentally tired but we are not always physically tired. Try to incorporate some physical activity into the day, but avoid vigorous exercise too late as this will lead to the body being overstimulated
don’t panic - when we don't drop straight off to sleep it can be tempting to watch the clock and worrying about how much time we have left to sleep. Take a laid back attitude to sleep and accept that, whilst lying, resting in bed isn’t as good a sleep it is still giving the body some rest.
If your sleep problems are prolonged there is specialist help available and your GP can help you to access the most appropriate treatment for you.