Sleep tips

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The following are tips the may help with your sleep. This is not advice, but some of the more common suggestions that are mentioned to help with your sleep and sleep hygiene.

1. Stick to a sleep schedule (going to sleep and getting up). If you are a shift worker, this can be difficult and you may need to ensure an even more fastidious about sleep hygiene.

2. Don't exercise too late in the day (minimum 2hr before bed). Exercise too close to bed elevates blood pressure and many other bodily mechanisms counter productive to sleep.

3. Do exercise. The recommendation is to exercise three times for 30 minutes each week. It can be strength based, aerobic or even just walking. But do something.

4. Avoid caffeine. If you must have caffeine, not after lunch time. Caffeine has a half life of 6 hours. Don't think that decaffeinated coffee is much better as it can still have up to 30% of the caffeine content. Caffeine blocks the body building up a sleep drive.

5. Avoid/limit alcohol before bed. Alcohol can help you get to sleep but it is shown to impact the quality of your sleep.

6. Avoid large meals and beverages late at night. The processing of the food and liquids may cause sleep challenges.

7. Avoid medicines that delay or disrupt sleep. Some medicines will allow you to sleep, but the quality will be poor, effectively negating the time spent in bed. Know what your medicines do.

8. Supplements may help. Whilst Melatonin is regularly recommended to help with sleep, other remedies such as Gingko Biloba, Glycine, Valerian Root, Magnesium, L-Theanine and Lavender are available. Each have their own claims of how they help. Talk with your doctor and usually don't take more than one type at a time. Again, talk with your doctor.

9. Don't take naps after 3pm. If you must nap, take it early afternoon for 30 minutes maximum. Too many naps = lowered sleep drive for the main sleeping period at night.

10. Relax before bed (no electronics). Whilst the blue light is an issue, the stimulation from the electronics also may hamper sleep. Reading a book is good, as is cleaning and other mundane chores.

11. Take a hot bath/shower before bed. This will aid raising your body temperature a little. When you then get into the cooler bed your body will associate it as sleep time.

12. Dark cool gadget free bedroom. A room between 60 and 75f (18 or 19c) is cited as ideal for sleep.

13. Have correct sunlight exposure. When you wake up, try to get morning sunshine on your skin and into your eyes. For an hour before bed try to limit exposure to blue light.

14. Don't lie in bed awake. If you wake in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep, get up until you feel tired again. This will most likely line up with your 90 minute cycles in your circadian rhythm.

15. Use orange glasses to block blue light. Inexpensive orange cycling or safety glasses will block the blue light that is thought to interfere with sleep drive. Wear them for the hour before sleep.

16. Only use your bedroom for sleep and sexual activities. The theory is that you will then not associate the room with other activities such as watching movies, playing games...

17. Don't watch the clock. If possible, don't have a visible clock next to your bed. By seeing it every time you awake, you may trigger anxiety about returning to sleep. If you need an alarm clock, turn it away from you.

18. Use blockout blinds. To help your body maximize and leverage sleep drive, use blockout blinds during sleep so that sleep isn't interrupted. Even if eyes are closed, light can come through and trigger an arousal. If blockout blinds aren't an option, try sleeping with an eye mask.

19. Make it a calming environment. Remove any items that may trigger strong feelings or thoughts. An example could be books such as Thrillers or Horror.

20. Control the noise. If possible, have a quiet room. If this isn't possible earplugs may help. Other people find using a white noise generator helpful to assist sleep.

21. Sleep when sleepy. Going to bed wide awake is not going to help you sleep. Where possible line up your sleep time with when you are typically sleepy. This can be difficult when your partner has a different circadian rhythm.

22. Use a sleep diary. By recording how your sleep went you can see what worked and didn't. It will also be an invaluable resource when you next see your GP. Note: Some sleep analysis applications, such as Oscar, have the ability to let you record your sleep reflections each day.

23. Don't sleep in on the weekend. If you attempt to sleep in to catch up on lost sleep you will make your sleep worse. Your body thrives on routine and a 'sleep in' will confuse your circadian rhythm causing future sleeps to be problematic.

24. Write down worries. Some people struggle to go to or stay asleep because of worries or things they have to do. If this is you, write them down before bed so that they don't cause your subconscious to keep worrying about and trying to remember them. The same applies if you wake up with more thoughts. Write them down and go back to sleep.

25. Limit allergy sources. Most people have some form of allergy such as to pets or dust. Methods could include: Removing carpets, using washable microfiber quilt, mattress and pillow covers, not allowing pets to sleep in or near the bed.

26. Pick one tip at a time. Trying one thing at a time enables you to determine clearly what helps.

27. Seek help. Sleep is a critical part of life and if you are struggling, seek help. The stereotype of the old fat man being the only one with sleep issues is not accurate. Reach out early and be proactive with your own health.

28. Seek more help. Whilst your GP may be an excellent practitioner, they may not be the best person to help sort your sleep challenges. If you don't think your GP is equipped to help, ask for a referral to a specialist to get it treated.