Sleep Gurus Offer 8 Must-Know Tricks for Better Sleep

It’s something we can all sympathise with – a broken night’s sleep. You lie there in limbo, wondering how to drift back into the land of nod.

‘One of the most common difficulties I’m asked is: “What should I do when I wake up during the night?'” says Dr Maja Schaedel a clinical psychologist specialising in sleep problems and co-founder of The Good Sleep Clinic.

‘Waking during the night can be caused by many different reasons, such as restless legs or subtle jerky movement in our limbs, sleep breathing disorders such as obstructive sleep apnoea, or needing to urinate more frequently as we get older,’ explains Dr Schaedel. ‘So it’s always important to rule out any physical difficulties which may be making your sleep more disrupted.’

We all know how frustrating it is to wake up feeling grumpy and exhausted.

To break the barrier between you and a great night’s sleep, here are a few things you can try:

1. Keep a sleep diary

‘Spend some time during the evening writing down all of the thoughts and concerns from the day,’ says Dr Schaedel. ‘This will help to teach your body and brain that daytime is for thinking – night-time is for sleeping.’

Ms Artis says: ‘When you’re having trouble sleeping and can’t understand why, a sleep diary can help identify what’s keeping you awake.

‘Sometimes issues are a result of bad sleep habits, for example, drinking too much caffeine before bedtime, not exercising, or poor sleep hygiene.’

2. Don’t force it

‘Sleep needs to find you,’ Ms Artis says. ‘Keep your eyes open and gently resist sleep, or try to adopt a carefree, accepting attitude towards wakefulness. The more relaxed your mind is, the easier it is to drop off.’

3. Don’t clock watch

‘When you keep an eye on the time, your mind starts to count down how long you have left to get some sleep, Ms Artis warns. 

‘This generally leads to tossing and turning and thinking about what you need to do the next day, which increases stress and anxiety.

‘This frustration often sends your body into “fight or flight” response, where your mind starts to race, your heart rate increases, and your blood pressure raises. All of which, ultimately, prevent you from going back to sleep.’

4. Put down your devices

‘Don’t be tempted to look at your phone or watch something on a tablet/TV. Checking your devices often leads to “just checking a message, email or social media” which then sets the brain in gear,’ Ms Artis says.

‘Also, the blue light emitted from screens suppresses melatonin which tells your body it’s time to wake up. It’s best to remove temptation in the first place and ensure there is no tech in the bedroom before you go to bed.’

5. Come to terms with your thoughts

‘When your thoughts show up at night – identify them as just thoughts,’ says Dr Schaedel. ‘It’s OK they have come into your mind – that’s normal, but don’t start to engage with them. 

‘Spending time attending to them and mulling them over gives them energy.’

6. Keep your mind in the present

‘Focus on the present moment, such as a pyjama button, the crease in the sheets, the gentle rise and fall of your tummy when you breathe,” advises Dr Schaedel.

‘When you find your mind being drawn towards your thoughts, simply bring it back to the here-and-now experience.’

7. And relax

Progressive muscle relaxation can help control stress and anxiety – and could help you nod off. It involves tensing and then relaxing your muscles, one by one. 

‘It’s when you focus on squeezing and releasing the muscle groups in your body systematically,’ says Dr Schaedel.

8. Get up

‘If after 20 minutes you’re still struggling to go back to sleep, get up and move to another room,; suggests Ms Artis.  ‘Make sure you keep the lights dim and do something calm and relaxing.’

She says to choose something you enjoy but avoid tech. ‘Reading, listening to music, relaxation techniques or having a milky drink are conducive to sleep,’ she says. 

‘Staying in bed awake decreases sleep efficiency, meaning we associate the bed with activities such as being awake, planning, worrying and not for sleeping.’


The Mail
Back to top button