Many of us do things before we go to bed that affect our quality of sleep. Watching TV in bed, checking your cellphone when you wake up during the night and having no sleeping routine can all result in poor sleep. Try to develop the following eight habits by sticking to them as closely as possible until they become routine:
1. Keep a notebook handy and write down anything that’s worrying you and
may be keeping you awake. Learn to fall asleep without thinking about it. Don’t
wait to ‘‘switch off ’’.
2. Visualise something nice or replay a movie you enjoyed in your head. Dr
Frans Hugo of the Panorama Psychiatry and Memory Clinic says a colleague loves
Audis and every night visualises himself walking into a showroom, getting into
the flashiest car and driving away – straight into dreamland.
3. Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, chocolate and nicotine after 6 pm.
Alcohol should be consumed early in the evening and in moderate amounts. It may
relax you at first but your brain could switch back on in the middle of the
night after the alcohol has been metabolised.
4. Teach your brain that bed is only for sleep and sleep is only in bed.
5. Don’t toss and turn. If you’re not asleep after 10 or 20 minutes get up
and do something boring somewhere else – you could even try reading the
6. Don’t watch television or videos, read an exciting book or try to work.
7. Don’t get anxious if you can’t sleep for a few nights. You’ll soon catch
up. ‘‘Comfort yourself with the thought you’ll probably sleep better the next
night or the one after that. The worst that can happen is you’ll be tired and
irritable the next day,’’ Dr Hugo says.
8. Follow the same routine every day. Your brain will learn to associate it
with sleep. Exercise can help but should be done early in the evening. A hot
bath and soothing music can also be effective.
What happens when you fall asleep?
Just how much sleep is enough?
Why a lack of sleep makes you feel so awful
Compiled by Mari Hudson
and Elise-Marie Tancred (Reviewed in January 2012)