Some experts say that in order to develop a healthy sleep schedule, it is important to listen to your body. A bedtime routine is important, simply taking your make-up off and brushing your teeth can itself become a ritual. Keeping the same habits and surroundings and putting away your gadgets can also help (switch off your iPad, stop texting), as can relaxation and breathing exercises.
But if you are still finding it difficult to take control of your sleep pattern, try these four tips for bedtime routine.
- Prepare your evening ‘A good night’s sleep is prepared for in advance,’ says sleep specialist Professor Damien Leger. ‘It’s about giving your brain a signal to sleep by gently lowering its activity levels and reducing the noise, light and temperature.’
- Setting the scene is key ‘It’s important to tell your body that night-time is coming,’ says Dr Guy Meadows from the Sleep School in London. ‘So don’t check your emails or Facebook while getting ready for bed.’ This preparation should even start earlier in the day. ‘Tiredness is often seen as a sign of weakness, so we try to override it,’ he says. ‘If you feel tired, you’re likely to reach for a coffee or tea to keep you awake. Drinking either after 4pm isn’t a good idea.’
- Recognise the signs of fatigue ‘Listen more closely to your body so that you don’t miss the chance to get to sleep,’ says sophrologist Catherine Aliotta. ‘In order to do that, you have to learn to recognise signs of fatigue such as tingling eyes and difficulty concentrating.’
- Adopt a wind-down session ‘If you’re short of personal time then you probably need a break between work and home,’ says psychiatrist Georges Alcaraz. ‘Go to the cinema, play sport, or set aside 10 minutes to try something new. Allocate a space for recreation during the day so that you don’t feel cheated in the evening. Avoid upsetting your biological rhythm. For example, be consistent with your eating patterns. If you eat early, you’ll go to bed earlier, too.’