Improve your sleep
Talking Sleep offers a graduated treatment approach. Initially, you may like to explore our sleep resources and tips for healthy sleep throughout the website. We hope that these will be useful and help you to understand sleep and develop strategies to move towards healthy sleep. We also run regular free sleep webinars, both for adult and children’s sleep. Click here for more information on upcoming events.
Many people occasionally experience difficulties sleeping. Usually, these brief disturbances are due to stress, travel, illness, or other temporary interruptions to your normal routine.
However, if you regularly have problems getting to sleep at night, wake up feeling exhausted, or feel sleepy during the day, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder. Sleep disorders often cause daytime fatigue and can take a serious toll on your mental and physical health.
There are many things you can do to identify the underlying causes of your sleep disorder and improve your sleep, health, and quality of life.
|Maintain daytime and sleep routines
|One of the best ways to train your body into getting a good night’s sleep if to go to bed and get up at approximately the same time every day, even on weekends and days off. Moreover, keeping to your planned daytime activities, even if you have a bad night’s sleep, is equally important. This regular rhythm will help to regulate your sleep wake cycle by giving your body external cues on when it is time to sleep. This process also helps to limit the reinforcement of insomnia.
|Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine
|It is best to avoid alcohol, caffeine (e.g., chocolate, coffee, tea, soft drinks, some medications), and nicotine (e.g., cigarettes, nicotine supplements) for at least 4-6 hours before going to bed. These substances act as stimulants that interfere with the body’s ability to fall asleep, as well as interrupts the quality of sleep.
|Only go to bed when sleepy
|If you have not been able to fall asleep after approximately 20+ minutes, get up and do something calming and/or boring until you begin to feel sleepy. Once you are feeling sleepy, return to bed and try again. Some activities to do in this time may be sitting quietly on the couch in dim light or reading something boring. Avoid activities that may be overly stimulating or interesting, as this will likely further contribute to your wakefulness.
|Only use your bed for sleep
|Avoid using the bed for anything other than sleep and sex. Doing so will help your body to begin associating the bed with sleep.
|Create bedtime rituals
|Similar to only using your bed for sleep, engaging in a set ritual of activities shortly before your designated bedtime can help remind your body that it is nearly time to sleep. Some people find it useful to do breathing exercises or sit quietly with caffeine-free tea. Having a warm bath 1-2 hours before bed may also help your body to feel more sleepy.
|Avoid taking naps throughout the day, even if you have a bad night’s sleep. This will help you to feel tired at bedtime. If napping is unavoidable, limit your naps to 1 hour or less and keep them before 3:00pm.
|Exercise and healthy diet
|A healthy, balanced diet coupled with regular exercise is a good idea to help with sleep. However, it is important to avoid heavy meals and strenuous exercise in the hours leading up to sleep. A light snack and/or some relaxing stretching is acceptable.
|Creating the right sleep environment
|Ensuring that your bed and bedroom are quite and comfortable can facilitate an environment conducive to good sleep. For example, ensuring you have enough blankets to be warm throughout the night and have limited the possibility of light and sound pollution is best.
|Avoid clock watching
|Frequently checking the time when you are having difficulties getting to sleep at night often contributes to more wakefulness, as well as reinforces negative thoughts surrounding sleep. Avoiding clock watching is optimal when trying to get to sleep.
|Using a sleep diary (i.e., a helpful worksheet used to track your sleeping habits) is a great way to understand the facts about your sleep, rather than making assumptions. However, it is recommended to only utilise a sleep diary in the first two weeks, and after two months to track your progress.