A good night’s sleep


Guest post …by Julia Welstead

CT  sc-cons-0315-dave-sleep-aJulia’s Sleep Recipe:

  1. decide on your ideal sleep slot eg 11pm to 7am and pledge to yourself that you’re going to stick with it until it works. Eight hours is recommended.
  2. don’t sleep outside of these desired hours (ie no afternoon napping!)
  3. minimise alcohol and caffeine, and no caffeine at all from lunchtime onwards
  4. don’t eat a heavy meal too late in the evening, but don’t go to bed hungry either
  5. have something warm and sweet (something like Ovaltine or Horlicks or hot water/milk with honey) in the hour before bedtime
  6. have a deep relaxing bath in the hour before bedtime
  7. don’t watch a screen (TV, computer, phone) in the hour before bedtime
  8. make sure the house is dark and quiet, and you are warm and comfortable
  9. get to bed with half an hour of reading time in hand, and a book you are enjoying
  10. once lights out, close your eyes and let your mind drift to a place where you feel relaxed and calm (beach or woodland walk, sunbathing, lying under a tree staring through the leaves etc). At this point some people find a ‘counting sheep’ type of exercise works (it doesn’t work for me as I used to be a sheep farmer and I start to worry that one is limping, another is stuck in the fence and so on!). Another good mental exercise is writing up numbers on a blackboard then rubbing them off: start at 100 and work backwards.
  11. if you aren’t asleep within about half an hour, or can’t settle, get up and do something that is boring and pointless to you, and do it standing up  eg read a phone book, count random things around the house, dust the skirting boards, polish the windows (but if you are a lover of housework, don’t do these!). DO NOT let yourself get comfortable and engaged in something interesting or something worrying, don’t eat, don’t switch on a screen. The key here is that you must not reward your brain for being awake: you need it to decide that sleep is the more attractive option (ie treat your brain a bit like a young child!)
  12. Go back to bed when you feel ready and repeat from point 10 repeat 10 and 11 for as long as it takes
  13. whatever has happened through the night, make sure you get up at the appointed hour (eg 7am) and stay awake all day, however tired you feel: this is a vital part of night-sleep success.


Additional notes:

Humans aren’t hard-wired to sleep through the night (we traditionally did a lot more short, catnapping type sleeps intermingled with checking for safety etc), it’s a fairly modern social construct, and we therefore have to train ourselves to do it if we want/need to fit in with life/work routines. So the above should be seen as a behavioural training schedule to capture the sleep response, ie it may not miraculously work on the first night! As with any training schedule, you have to stick with it.



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