PRACTICAL PERSPECTIVES ON SLEEP
The best counter measure to fatigue is getting a good night’s sleep. If that is not possible, then napping should be encouraged with as good a quality of sleeping accommodation as can be provided.
Much of the quality of sleeping accommodation is intuitive: lying flat is better than sitting upright. A comfortable mattress in a quiet environment with temperatures that are not to hot and not too cold will all help us sleep.
Here are six tips on sleeping better.
- Even good sleepers sometimes find it difficult to fall asleep or wake up in the early hours of the morning. For most of us this is due to thoughts running through our mind related to personal or work issues. Try and empty your mind of worries before sleep and concentrate on happy thoughts. Relaxation techniques can help you get ready for sleep.
- If you wake in the night and can’t fall back to sleep easily within a few minutes – get up and try and resolve what is worrying you, but remember that problems always seem much more serious in the middle of the night. Many people who think that they sleep badly have normal sleep when their sleep is recorded in a laboratory. Waking up a few times in the night is quite normal and many of us do not remember our awakenings.
- Make your bedroom environment conducive to sleep. Sleep is disturbed when you are too hot or too cold. Try and maintain your bedroom temperature at around 18 degrees centigrade. Use thick curtains or black out blinds and wear ear plugs if you are disturbed by noise. Sharing a bed disturbs our sleep so choose the largest bed that you can and consider separate duvets with tog values suited to each partner.
- Cold feet in bed really are more common in women and scientists have shown that bedsocks can improve sleep. This works by opening up the blood vessels in your feet resulting in a enhancing the drop in deep body temperature that happens when we sleep. A warm bath before bed has a similar effect.
- Although a single measure of alcohol has been shown to help us fall asleep more quickly any more leads to more frequent awakenings in the night and even reductions in the amount of Rapid eye movement or dreaming sleep. Caffeine also disturbs sleep and some of us are particularly sensitive due to genetic factors. Try and avoid caffeine within six hours of bedtime if you are sensitive to its effects. This includes coffee, strong tea and energy drinks such as Red Bull and Monster.
- Some sleep experts advise that the bedroom should be reserved for sleep and sex. This advice was first given over thirty years ago but was not based on scientific evidence. However, falling asleep with the TV, radio or music on is not a good idea so make sure that you use the sleep facility. Don’t watch, read or listen to anything disturbing, exciting or work related just before sleep. Some electronic devices are associated with wavelengths of light that are alerting and may interfere with the production of melatonin – a hormone that aids sleep.