Almost of us have had problems sleeping one time or another. This could be struggling to get to sleep, waking up regularly through the night, or being unable to get back to sleep once sleep has been broken. There can be many reasons for disrupted sleep and our needs change across our life span.
Once a pattern has been started, it can be difficult to break that cycle. For instance, if you feel you had a bad night’s sleep you may feel worried the following night that you won’t sleep well. This feeling then prevents you from another good nights’ rest, and so the cycle continues.
If you have trouble sleeping, there are some things you could do to help yourself get a good night’s sleep. They can be used for both adults and children. This could include changing our:
Where you sleep
Where you sleep is actually really important. Is it too hot or too cold? Too light or dark? There are lots of factors that can affect the quality of your sleep. Consider making changes such as:
- The temperature. Ideally is should be between 15 and 19 degrees, or 18 and 21 degrees for children.
- If you get a lot of sunlight or have thin curtains, consider black-out blinds or liner for curtains.
- Aesthetics. Are you happy with how your room looks? Is it too cluttered or lacking in furniture such as a bedside table or night light? It’s important to feel happy in the space you’re trying to sleep in. Colour can also influence sleep, did you know the best colour for inducing sleep is blue? You don’t necessarily need to get the paint out but consider changing the bedding or getting rid of anything too bight or busy.
- Screens. If you have a telly in your room, consider whether it’s time to move it somewhere else. In fact, all screens can have a major impact on our sleep so try and keep them out of the bedroom altogether. For children, this is especially important and there is a lot of research to suggest children who are exposed to screen time before bed have a poorer nights’ sleep.
How you behave
Think about your bedtime routine, or do you even have one? If not, consider implementing one or more of the following suggestions:
- Having a warm drink before bed
- Keeping lights dim encourages you or your child’s body to produce the sleep hormone, melatonin.
- Try to avoid drinks with caffeine in – energy drinks, fizzy drinks and alcohol can affect our sleep
- Having a bath with candles, scented bubble baths, candles (where appropriate) can help
- Reading a book or having a book read to you – audiobooks can be good
- Listening to relaxing music
- Get more exercise during the day – if we are tired, then sometimes sleep is easier.
- Try NOT to nap during the day – although if we’re unable to sleep at night, napping can help us feel better as we catch up with some rest.
Changing mindset and thought patterns
Our thoughts can become our own worst enemy when it comes to sleep. All those worries we push away throughout the day can suddenly come to the surface just as we want to wind down. Consider:
- If something is troubling you and there is nothing you can do about it right away, try writing it down before going to bed and then tell yourself to deal with it tomorrow.
- If you can’t sleep, don’t lie there worrying about it. Get up and do something you find relaxing like reading or listening to quiet music. After a while you should feel tired enough to go to bed again. You’re still resting, and sometimes by not being hard on ourselves, or becoming anxious about NOT sleeping, we can sometimes fall asleep.
- Avoid clock watching when in bed! Put your attention somewhere restful, use imagery – try to think of a place that you have enjoyed spending time in, use your five senses – what does it sound like, what can you hear?, What can you see? What smells are there? Do this slowly……. Imagine being there…… Think of happy memories for times you were there…..
- Try counting in threes! How high can you get? Or backwards from 200 in 3s! It depends on your love of numbers as to whether this would work for you!
Finally, remember to be kind to yourself. These changes may take time and practise. Keep trying and find what works for you – we’re all different.