Sleeping well is a habit that you can learn! Small changes can have big effects. Start today by following these rules:
Food and Drinks
- Caffeine free after 4 o’clock. We love to drink herbal tea
- Try to eat a big or spicy meal earlier in the evening and allow yourself time to digest
- Try not to go to bed hungry
- Avoid alcohol as it interferes with sleep
- Physical exercise, such as a brisk walk, in the late afternoon can help to make your body tired and help you to sleep. Try to do some exercise every day.
- Sleep only at night-time and do not have day-time naps, no matter how tired you feel. Naps keep the problem going by making it harder for you to get to sleep the next night.
Having a regular bedtime routine teaches your body when it’s time to go to sleep. Consider some of these options to do every night:
- Have a soothing drink like camomile tea (we love this one) or hot milk with cinnamon
- Have a bath, or a routine of washing your face and brushing your teeth
- Go to bed at same time each night
- When in bed think of nice things (e.g. think of 5 nice things that happened that day – they might be big or small, such as a nice conversation, seeing the sunshine, or hearing nice music on the radio)
- Do a relaxed breathing exercise (one hand on stomach the other on your chest, deliberately slow your breathing, breathe deeply in your stomach instead of high in your chest)
- Try and wake up the same time every day, even if this is tiring to begin with
- If you’re really struggling, try an eye mask or black out curtains – sensory deprivation can help to slow down thinking
Waking up in the Middle of the Night
Coping with bad dreams can be difficult. Try these things:
- Review your bad dream and then think of a different ending for it. Practice this new ending many times before going back to sleep
- Re-orient yourself to your space. Have a familiar scent or cuddle toy handy to remind you that you are safe in bed
- You can also try to remind yourself that you are at home, that you are safe by imagining your street, buses, local shops
Make your bedroom a pleasant place to be
- Get a nightlight
- Keep it clean and tidy
- Introduce pleasant smells such as a drop of lavender oil onto the pillow
- Get extra pillows
- Make sure that your home is safe e.g. doors locked, windows closed.
REMEMBER: Bed is for sleeping, so if you cannot sleep after 30 minutes, get up and do another activity elsewhere such as reading or listening to music (try and avoid TV or other screens as it can wake you up). After 15 minutes return to bed and try to sleep again. If you still can’t sleep after 30 minutes get up again. Repeat this routine as many times as necessary and only use your bed for sleeping in.