Set aside 30 minutes to an hour for an identical pre-sleep routine each night
for sleep. So if you’re going to bed at 10pm-11pm, set aside 30 minutes to an hour for the same nightly pre-sleep routine. This may involve things such as taking a shower, washing your face and brushing your teeth, moisturising your face and climbing into bed with a book. Psychologist Susanna Halonen says, “The more identical you can make every evening, the more you train your body to prepare for sleep and the easier it will be to achieve.”
SAY NO TO THE NIGHTCAP
“Alcohol is a stimulant as well as a sedative,” says Dr Guy Meadows of The Sleep School. “While many people use it to fall asleep, it is also metabolised so quickly that it can leave the body craving more.” So when we drink alcohol close to bedtime, we are more likely to wake up in the early hours, leaving us primed for a night-time anxiety attack. As a rule of thumb, it takes an hour to process one unit of alcohol, so, to be on the safe side, have a last glass of wine at 7pm if you intend to go to bed at 10pm.
If you simply can’t get back to sleep because your head is buzzing with worry, don’t look at the clock – you’ll fret even more. “Just get out of bed and go into another room for ten minutes,” Dr Ramlakhan says. “Leaving the environment you feel uncomfortable in breaks the association with worries.”
But don’t start checking your phone or scrolling through Facebook. Go into the living room and read a few pages of a light-hearted book under a dim light. When you feel calm, return to your bed and turn over your pillow. “It will feel cooler on your face and creates a separation from the last time you were lying there,” Dr Ramlakhan says.
ENSURE DIGITAL BLACKOUT
Don’t look at your phone or tablet for an hour before bed, and then put it out of reach so you won’t be tempted to pick it up in the night. LCD screens emit blue light, which is the same type as sunlight. “Our body clock gets confused and starts thinking it’s daytime again, so it