Ad­dress in­som­nia

From ditch­ing curry to keep­ing your eyes off the clock, here is a guide for any­one suf­fer­ing sleep­less nights

Friday - - HEALTH -

Sort out your bed­room

Your bed­room is for sleep, right? So stop us­ing it as your liv­ing room. It is your sanc­tu­ary: keep it tran­quil and dark. Your body needs dark­ness to re­lease mela­tonin, which in turn helps you sleep - so in­vest in black­out blinds or an eye mask. Switch off mo­bile phones and com­puter screens, as their LED screen blue light is par­tic­u­larly un­help­ful for mela­tonin pro­duc­tion. If you need a new mat­tress, spend time choos­ing one that is ap­pro­pri­ate, and make sure your du­vet is the right tog for the sea­son.

Stick to a reg­u­lar bed­time rou­tine

The buzz phrase is sleep hy­giene, mean­ing don’t do any­thing dur­ing the day that might in­hibit your sleep later on, and slow down at bed­time. So avoid naps, and go to bed and get up at roughly the same time each day. En­joy your night-time rou­tine: have a hot bath (it raises your body tem­per­a­ture, which helps you nod off).

Dig­i­tal detox

Switch off your de­vices at least 40 min­utes be­fore you turn in. You can also con­sider read­ing a book, play­ing sooth­ing mu­sic or lis­ten­ing to a ‘nod­cast’.

Don’t check the clock

Part of what keeps us awake at night is stress about be­ing awake. So re­sist the temp­ta­tion to clock-watch, which can make you anx­ious: in­stead, lux­u­ri­ate in feel­ing com­fort­able, safe and warm. Re­visit happy me­mories and tell your­self that you will still func­tion fine to­mor­row.

If you re­ally can’t sleep, get up

If you of­ten lie awake for more than half an hour, ei­ther when you first go to bed or if you wake in the night, get up and make your­self com­fort­able some­where else with a book or some mu­sic. Re­turn to bed when you feel tired - this will help you as­so­ciate bed with sleep and not with wake­ful­ness.

Watch what you eat and drink

Al­co­hol can in­ter­fere with your sleep cy­cle - it helps you sleep ini­tially, but wakes you up a few hours later. Avoid big meals in the evening, es­pe­cially rich, heavy or spicy foods that can cause heart­burn and stom­ach trou­ble. Don’t drink cof­fee after lunchtime - 2017 re­search found caf­feine re­duces your sleep time and qual­ity.

Keep a sleep di­ary

Record your sleep habits over a fort­night: when you go to bed, how long it takes you to sleep, whether you wake in the night. Look for pat­terns you can change - maybe you sleep best when you’ve ex­er­cised. A sleep di­ary can also help a doc­tor pin­point what’s wrong. If all else fails, get checked out: in­som­nia is linked with de­pres­sion , and for some peo­ple sleep dis­rup­tion is an early sign.

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