Having a regular sleep schedule, bedtime routine and prioritising sleep, all help people sleep better, scientists have found.
The following advice is based on recommendations by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine:
1. Regular sleep schedule
Go to bed at night and rise in the morning at roughly the same times.
Keep this routine though the weekend — don’t be tempted to sleep in to ‘catch up’.
“People who sleep in on a Sunday morning may not be sleepy by their usual bedtime on Sunday evening, which can make waking up on Monday difficult. This can throw off the week’s schedule. When possible, it is best to try to get to bed and get up at same time (at least within an hour) seven days a week.”
2. Bedtime routine
The body and brain need time to wind down before bed.
Going through the same procedure in the run-up to lights-out will help you sleep better.
“Even a 10-minute routine where you do the same things each night to prepare yourself for going to bed is a good idea. Our brains need a wind-down period to go from ‘on’ to ‘sleep time.”
3. Prioritise sleep
Try setting your alarm clock for 30 minutes before bedtime, not just when you get up in the morning.
“If you know you have to get up at 6 a.m. the next day, set your alarm clock in the evening for 9:30 p.m. That alerts you that you have a half hour before you need to go to bed and you can begin to wind down.”
Finally, turn the bedroom into a screen-free zone.
“We are so ‘go, go, go’ that people are on all the time now. There have been studies showing that the light emitted from electronic devices decreases the release of melatonin, a hormone that helps us feel sleepy.”