Getting good quality sleep
Strategies for good-quality sleep
Getting plenty of good-quality sleep is essential for all of us, because sleep itself is a restorative process. It’s the chance for our body to repair damage and prepare for another day of mental and physical exertion. Research studies have consistently found that disturbed sleep, even more than workload or lack of exercise, is linked to fatigue.
Fortunately, there is a consensus of opinion on how to have a good night’s sleep.
The basic principles are:
- Do some exercise during the day, especially in the daylight if possible.
- Go to bed and get up at regular times, even if you are tired in the morning.
- Avoid activities that are incompatible with sleep in bed or in the bedroom (anything to do with work, for example). Bedrooms are best kept uncluttered and associated with only sleep or sex. Satisfying sex helps sleep.
- Don’t try to make yourself sleep. If you are unable to fall asleep after 20–30 minutes in bed, leave your bed, engage in some relaxing activity (such as reading or listening to music) and do not return to bed until you are sleepy.
- Avoid heavy meals and alcohol before bedtime. However, don’t go to bed hungry.
- Wind yourself down during the last hour or two of the day. Avoid vigorous physical or mental activity, and emotional upsets – like arguments with your partner.
- Have a bedtime ritual, like we do for children – perhaps a bath or a shower, reading, putting on sleepwear.
- For relaxing tense muscles or a racing mind, use deep relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, meditation or visualisation.
- Reduce noise by using earplugs.
- Keep the room at a comfortable temperature. Being too hot or too cold will interfere with sleep.
Give it a go, and if you still find yourself counting sheep, you may need some professional help to establish a good sleep pattern again. Talk to your GP about how to access this help.
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