11 Tips on Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

January 28, 2015

Aunty Jane: Getting a good night's sleep

Our own Aunty Jane offers 11 tips on getting a good night’s sleep.

Having been through the sleep lab 3 times I have devised a list that will hopefully help you sleep better.
Sleep is like any other habit, we have to train our brains to go to sleep. FYI it takes 13 weeks to break an old habit and 6 weeks to form the new one.

Tip #1
Keep regular hours, go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time every day. Get into your favourite sleeping position and cuddle whatever it is you like to cuddle.
Have comfortable bedding – if that is a hammock – use it. Make sure the room is at a comfortable temperature – too hot or too cold can affect your sleep. Cool is the best.
Reserve the bedroom for sleep and sex, don’t use the bed for an office, workroom. Teach your brain that the bed is either for fun or for sleeping. Eliminate noise and as much light as possible. I wear ear plugs and have black out blinds in my room.

Tip #2
Your brain needs training – every night I do the same routine to tell my brain that it is beddy bye time. I change into my jammies, wash my face, brush my teeth, and then brush my hair 100 strokes and then crawl into bed. You can take a warm bath or read for a few minutes before going to sleep.

Tip #3
This one was really hard for me – do not nap during the day. I would come home from work and crash on the couch (sound familiar?). If you have to nap – no longer than 30 minutes – I ask my hubby to wake me and he loves doing that – the louder the better. My way around it – taking a shower usually peps me up or my hubby and I will go for a walk right after dinner.

Tip #4
This brings me to the next point, exercise daily, take that walk, dance around your living room, but get moving. I am not suggesting ”extreme exercise” but consistency is the key. The other trick is do not exercise 2 hours before bedtime.

Tip #5
Do not watch your alarm clock. If you wake up, just turn over and ignore the clock. You become more conscious if you have to focus on the clock and read the time. If you can’t ignore the clock, set the alarm and duct tape over the hours. If I can’t fall asleep in 20 – 30 minutes I get up and read 3 or 4 pages in a really boring book. Then I return to be when I feel sleepy or my toes get too cold. You can also have a light snack such as warm milk, a banana, or turkey. Do not watch TV, do crosswords, or housework where your brain really has to work. TV makes your brain work by making your brain follow what you are watching.

Tip #6
Try relaxation exercises – turn the lights off, close your eyes and give yourself permission to sleep. Try these exercises during the day to make you aware of what is going on in your body.
Ignoring things that are bothering you may interfere with a good night’s sleep.

Tip #7
Things to avoid 4 – 6 hours before bedtime:
– Alcohol: In truth alcohol will help you get to sleep a bit faster but in a few hours when the alcohol starts to leave your system – the alcohol that helped you fall asleep says rise and shine and wakes you up.

– Caffeine: Coffee, tea, pop, and my personal favourite chocolate.

– Food: Avoid heavy, spicy or sugary foods (my life is getting boring in the search of sleep).

Tip #8
Things you can have 4 ­ 6 hours before bedtime:
– A light snack before bed e.g. warm milk and foods high in amino acid tryptophan such as bananas, turkey.

– Horlick’s makes a drink packed with tryptophan. It is usually available in your local grocery store in the coffee/tea section. Yes I know talk about contradiction but that is where it usually is kept.

– Try calcium 500 mg and magnesium 250 mg from your local health food store, or pharmacy.

Tip #9
Several reasons sleep can be upset:
– Arthritis, acid reflux with menstruation, headaches and my personal favourite – hot flashes.

– Depression, anxiety, and stress affect sleep – if this is the case call your doctor to help determine the root of your problem and the best treatment plan.

– Medication – many can cause sleeplessness as a side effect – ask your doctor or pharmacist if anything you are on could cause problems.

Sometimes doctors will prescribe a medication to fix a sleep problem. This decision is between you and your doctor and your overall health. Always follow the advice of your doctor and other healthcare professionals.

Tip #10
I have lived my entire life on a farm and I have learned a lot from goats that can apply to humans. Goats only eat the best there is, they wander in a herd getting lots of daily exercise (so take a friend with you), they make their beds nice and cozy at night, and when the light is turned off they go to sleep.

Tip #11
Remember the goal is to sleep naturally and well.

Sleep well,

Jane

Aunty Jane

Aunty Jane

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