10 steps to a good night’s sleep

Sometimes referred to as sleep hygiene, these small steps can make the world of difference to your sleep experience.

1. Your sleep schedule

Go to bed and wake up at consistent times every day, including weekends. If you ever take a nap, don’t do it after 3pm.

 

2. Get outside every day

Expose yourself to plenty of daylight in the day to help tweak your body’s inbuilt clock for sleep.

 

3. Cool down

Take an evening bath (it’ll make you feel toasty but actually helps lower your core body temperature) and dial down the radiators in your bedroom to between 16*C and 18*C.

 

4. Get physical

Regular exercise literally does tire you out, but leaving it until late in the evening has the reverse effect; don’t exercise within three hours of your bedtime.

 

5. Check your caffeine intake

Caffeine can interfere with your body’s natural sleepiness; if you’re sensitive to its effects, avoid caffeine-containing drinks and chocolate.

 

6. Dim the lights

Avoid bright lights in the evenings, especially the blue light of LED devices, to help your body listen to its melatonin sleep trigger.

 

7. Let go of worries

A bedside duo of pen and notebook allows you to write down worries or urgent to-dos, so you can unwind and focus on falling asleep instead of fretting about tomorrow.

 

8. Skip the nightcap

Skip the nightcap — alcohol before bed disrupts your deep sleep, so you’ll wake up feeling unrefreshed.

 

9. Schedule screen-free time

If you need to check your email one last time or quickly catch up on social media, make sure the last time you look at your phone is one to two hours before your bedtime; keep those last hours before sleep sacrosanct.

 

10. And relax

Find what works for you to de-stress, be it meditation, breathing exercises, podcasts, a sleep story, of just settling down with a good book.

 

Extracted with permission from The Magic of Sleep: A Bedside Companion, by Michael Acton Smith (Penguin RRP$28).

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