8 Simple steps to a better nights sleep!
‘Sleep Hygiene’ is a term thrown around a lot in the mental health and clinical world. Perhaps this term is unfamiliar to you but essentially sleep hygiene is about a routine to assist with a better night’s sleep and routine. These steps can be used for children, adolescents and adults!
Limit screens in the bedroom: If possible, don't have a mobile, tablet, TV or computer in the bedroom at night, as the light from the screen interferes with sleep. Having screens in the bedroom also means you’re more likely to stay up late interacting with friends on social media. Try to have at least 30 mins screen free time before bed. I use my phone as an alarm so I ensure my phone is out of reach both physically and to ensure the light does not disrupt my sleep.
Exercise for better sleep: It's official: regular exercise helps you sleep more soundly, as well as improving your general health. Exercising out in daylight will help to encourage healthy sleep patterns, too. I have found when I walk to and from work I have a much more peaceful sleep.
Cut out the caffeine: OK, ok I can feel and hear the gasps in horror at this one!! I am a self-confessed coffee addict but I am also aware of the impact caffeine can have with getting to sleep. Perhaps try decaff, hot milk or a herbal tea. I am not saying cut out caffeine altogether but try to reduce intake 4 hours before bedtime.
Don't binge before bedtime: It’s so easy to get the late-night munchies, I am guilty of this myself. But I know that if I do this I will suffer. I will feel uncomfortable, bloated and too alert to sleep. Try to avoid eating too much or too little before bed.
Have a good routine: Doing the same things in the same order an hour or so before bed can help them drift off to sleep. Try to avoid TV, social media or anything too interactive or engaging an hour before bed. This time should be used to wind down therefore try a relaxing bath, having a warm drink (no caffeine!!) or reading a book.
Create a sleep-friendly bedroom: Ensure you have a good sleeping environment – ideally a room that is dark, cool, quiet and comfortable. It might be worth investing in thicker curtains or a blackout blind to help block out early summer mornings and light evenings. You might find white noise or background noise useful. Personally I set 15 minutes play on an audio book which helps me to drift off easily..
Talk through any problems: If you can’t talk them through, jot them down and this can be a helpful tool in offloading. Similarly, talk to your teenager or child about anything they're worried about. This will help them to put their problems into perspective and sleep better. You could also encourage them to jot down their worries or make a to-do list before they go to bed. This should mean they're less likely to lie awake worrying during the night.
Avoid long weekend lie-ins: As much as you may feel the need to lie in or oversleep it is crucial to build up a routine around sleep. A structured bed time and wake up time is useful in ensuring you’re not laying wide awake at night. Particularly for teens, late nights and long lie-ins can disrupt your body clock and leave you with weekend "jet lag" on Monday morning.