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Wednesday 15 March 2017

5 simple ways to get a good night's sleep

Is This Mutton's guide to getting a good night's sleep
It seems everyone is having trouble sleeping these days. Even school children, we're told.

There are sleep clinics, various herbal remedies (none of them work, by the way) and no end of lore on the internet on how to sleep.

I'm a lark: I go to bed quite early and I'm usually up by 6am, and I used to sleep all the way through Lately, I've been waking after three or four hours and having to read for a while before getting back to sleep.  Our ancestors used to do this, apoparently, and made good use of their waking time, doing chores and socialising. But nowadays it's frowned on.

But I am a firm believer in good sleeping habits or "sleep hygiene" as it's often called. Here are my five rules for sleeping well:

1. Get your body and mind ready for bed

Your body and brain need some clues that you're preparing to wind down for the night. When people swear by Horlicks, it's the ritual of preparing and drinking it at a certain time every night that works, not the drink itself  (although drinks like this, and warm milk, have ingredients which relax you).

Don't leave dinner too late or your body will be busy with digestion. 

My signal to the brain is usually that I go to bed around 9 - 9.30 and read my Kindle in a quiet room with no flashing blue lights and no music or TV. By no flashing blue lights I mean no phones, and we'll come on to that.

I find that even with the most gripping book, I'm becoming sleepy after 30 minutes.

2. Don't share your room with tech

If it's not there, you can't use it. I either leave my phone downstairs when I go to be or put it in aircraft mode.

It doesn't need to charge all night, and I look forward to catching up in the morning. The flashing lights are very distracting to the brain.

This is key for teenagers and children who can't sleep. If they aren't getting a good night's sleep they won't have the energy to concentrate and they'll eat more. If you don't get enough sleep, eating more, and badly, is a direct result.

I have a TV in my room which I haven't used for more than a year. I'm trying to get rid of it! 

3. Calm your mind

One of the things that keeps many of us awake is worrying about your to do list for the next day or week. You toss and turn wondering how you're going to get it all done. My tip is to write your To Do list for the next day at the end of your working day.  Concentrate on the important items. If the list includes things you dread, and you know you procrastinate, identify the time of day when you're at your best and tackle one of those tasks then.  I'm always very alert in the morning so I deliberately make myself do boring things then: tax returns, spreadsheets, etc.

By detailing your action plan for the next day in advance, your brain gets a sense of closure and you'll be less likely to run through everything at night.

4. Make yourself tired

It sounds an obvious thing to say, but if you've been sitting down all day, at a desk or in a car, you're probably not going to be very tired physically. Find a time of day that works for you to do some exercise. Maybe a speedy walk in your lunch break? Exercise before bed is said to be a bad thing. 

5. Make your bed a haven

Most of us have mattresses which have long passed their sell-by. We're told we should get a new one every 10 - 15 years. Pillows matter too, don't let them get squashed or lumpy.

Vaccum your mattress at least once a fortnight and wash bedding at 60 degrees to get rid of dust mites.

Have quality bedding that makes you feel good. Remember how lovely it feels in certain  hotels, to sink into the downy embrace of their duvet and pillows.

Ensure you have a proper black out with your curtains or blinds. 

Sweet dreams!


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  1. Great tips thanks for sharing them. Have a nice weekend.

    Gemma x

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