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Sleep hygiene - how to get a better night's sleep

Tags: Health

Not getting to sleep (insomnia), or sleep disturbance (waking during the night) happens to around half of us at some stage.

A good night’s sleep is absolutely essential to your good health. Sleep is when your brain processes memory and when other important functions like the production of Human growth hormone happens in order to repair damaged cells, as well as many other vital processes.

This is designed to help you get a better night’s sleep.

  • Cease caffeine particularly after 5pm – don’t drink alcohol after 7.30pm. Don’t drink a lot of fluid in general after 9pm.
  • One Hour before bedtime turn off all electronic appliances, especially computers and televisions. Put on some relaxing music – have a 'potter' – get ready for bed.
  • Read (preferably not a page turner but something like a magazine, poetry or an inspirational book like the Bible or Qur'an or a self development book).
  • Also half to three quarters of an hour before bedtime have a hot milk drink (milk contains tryptophan, a sleep-inducing substance) and perhaps a herbal remedy for sleep like Valerian (a strong dose) or some other sleep herbal formula.
  • Wait until you are sleepy (sleep comes in waves), then go straight to bed. It is OK to continue reading your non-arousing material in bed.
  • If you are not asleep within 15 minutes after settling down for the night – do not lie in bed staring at the ceiling or tossing and turning – get out of bed and 'potter' some more until you feel sleepy again – then go back to bed.
  • If not asleep within 15 minutes – go through this process again.
  • This process applies also if you wake in the middle of the night.
  • Don't 'Catastrophise' about the fact you are taking time to go to sleep – accept it. Otherwise you will just stress yourself.
  • Stress is the enemy of a good night's sleep. Do everything you can to stay as calm as much as possible – stress management, meditation, yoga.
  • Don't have a television or computer in use in your room – bed is for sleeping. Encourage this by saying to yourself when getting into bed 'Bed is for sleeping' (or cuddling, making love etc). Champagne and strawberries are OK on special occasions only!
  • Keep your bedroom cool, quiet and dark
  • Exercise, but not late in the evening and particularly not just before bed. The last thing you want is to arouse yourself when you want to calm down.
  • Have a regular wake-up time – This is more important than a regular sleep time, and open the curtains or go outside as quickly as you can when you wake up.

If, after a reasonable period of time you are still not sleeping properly – consult your physician. As I said before, a good night's sleep is extremely important to our proper mental and physical functioning and a short term of medication might be useful.

Sweet dreams!