A friend of mine is having difficulty sleeping, and it's something that I seem to see a lot of in hospital, patients saying they can't sleep unless they have their sleeping tablets etc.
So, before the start taking sleeping tablets (which are not a cure, and in the long term can be detrimental to sleep), here are some sleep tips.
(Interestingly, a lot of these translate to small children as well - I see the same tips for when trying to get good sleeping routines for babies and toddlers)
- use the bed and bedroom for sleep and sex only
- establish a regular bedtime routine and a regular sleep-wake cycle
- create a sleep-promotig environment that is dark, cool and comfortable
- avoid disturbing sounds - consider having a bedside fan or white noise machine to block out disturbing sounds
- Do something relaxing in the 30 minutes before bedtime, like reading or meditation
- Take a warm shower or bath 1.5-2 hours before bedtime, as taking a shower shortly before bed increases alertness.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine especially late in the day. Consider no caffeine.
- Exercise but not within 3 hours of bedtime
- Avoid later afternoon and evening naps
- stimulus control
- cognitive behavioural therapy
- progressive muscle relaxation
- paradoxical intervention
- sleep restriction
- imagery tasks
Stimulus control - the main goal is regain the idea that the bed is for sleeping. It involves the following:
- go to bed only when ready to sleep
- if unable to sleep within 15-20 mins get up and go into another room
- maintain a regular wake up time no matter how few hours you actually sleep
- avoid naps
- focus on one specific muscle group at a time. Most people start with the foot. Inhale and tense foot muscles for about 8 seconds. Relax the foot and let it become loose and limp, stay relaxed for 15 seconds then repeat on other foot
- move up to the next muscle group and repeat, doing one side of the body at a time. Work from foot and leg up to abdomen and chest then hands and arms then to neck, shoulders and face.