Before giving you some tips for a good night’s sleep, it may be helpful to define what that is.
What is a good night’s sleep?
This is an important starting place and is misunderstood by many.
A good night’s sleep consists of sleep cycles, which usually last for two and a half to three hours, depending upon the individual.
What is a sleep cycle?
A sleep cycle consists of three elements
- When we nod off, we go into Light Sleep and this usually lasts for up to twenty minutes. During this time the mind is still reasonably alert. An EEG machine can detect a subject’s reaction to their own name being said.
- The next stage is Slow Wave Sleep is essential for the body and mind to repair and restore themselves for the next day
- R E M (Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep comes next and this is the lightest level of sleep and in many ways the brain’s activity is similar to the waking state. The movement of the eyes behind the eyelids is obvious during this stage, but we don’t move around because the body is completely relaxed.
After R E M the next cycle begins until it is time to get up. This explains why many people who suffer from Insomnia wake up at the end of a sleep cycle and at a similar time every night.
Does sleeping for longer equal feeling more refreshed?
Not necessarily. What can happen is that we stay in bed assuming that the extra time is a bonus for our body and mind. However, getting up during the sleep cycle can leave us feeling drained.
Now for the Tips
Build a consistent behaviour by going to bed at the same time whenever possible. Similarly, get up at a regular hour in the morning.
Avoid alcohol and heavy meals for about two hours before going to bed. You might believe alcohol helps you to go to sleep, but it interferes with the important sleep cycle.
Similarly, going for a run immediate before bed is not a great idea. Yes, it will tire you out, but again it may disrupt the sleep cycle.
Watching late night horror movies or ones containing violence should be avoided.
Unless you are expecting a call put your mobile well away from the bed. We are so used to checking our phones during the day and that practice shouldn’t continue during the night.
Lots of people watch T.V. in the bedroom. If you do this, give it a rest for three weeks or so. The subconscious mind needs to associate the bedroom with sleep and perhaps sex.
Don’t stay in bed when you wake up during the night. Get up and do something. Perhaps, some boring task that you have been putting off. The mind should not get familiar to the feeling of being in bed awake.
Now for the important one. No one teaches us how to sleep properly, so just be aware what is happening in your life and whether any of the above factors are affecting your sleep patterns. Maybe keeping a sleep diary will help you to remember so that you can start to experiment with changes. Just change one thing at a time and see how you get on.
One last point – medications can also impact on your sleep cycles, so have a word with your doctor or pharmacist, if you haven’t already done so.
If those tips are not helping you, have a word with a hypnotherapist.