Don’t quite reach out for those sleeping pills yet.
A good nights’ sleep may seem like a far-fetched idea, especially when you try and fit those precious hours of recovery into a tight schedule.
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Metro gets top tips and advice from sleeping coach Nick Littlehales, who helps celebrities and athletes optimize their beauty sleep.
THE RULES OF SLEEP
Consistent sleep-wake routine
Natural sleep periods are in the afternoon and evening. Today, all sleep occurs at night, putting us under pressure to maximize every minute of every hour. The average person’s optimum sleep time is 7.5 hours a night — your wake time will determine optimum sleep time, so if you get out of bed at 6.30 a.m., you would need to be in bed for 11 p.m.
Most people are desk-bound and don’t stop for breaks. Taking short five minute breaks throughout the day where you leave your work environment will allow for a moment of solitude that will help provide mental recovery essential for sleep.
Stimulate your body by balancing your food and fluid intake. Eat breakfast (yogurt, cereal or porridge), a mid-morning snack, lunch, an afternoon snack and dinner (avoid foods that are slow to digest). Avoid caffeine from lunchtime onwards as it remains in the system for a while. All food and fluid intake should be over three to four hours prior to sleep.
We are healthier and generally more active than we used to be in the past. If you choose to go the gym after work, then plan you routine around this — have your main meal at lunch and a light meal for dinner. Early evening cardiovascular exercise can actually promote sleep, but we are talking about a light jog or gym session, which doesn’t go past eight or nine o’clock in the evening.
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN
Down, not up
Do things that are non-stimulating both mentally and physically 1.5 hours prior to sleep such as watching TV, reading a book or doing light yoga or Pilates exercises.
De-clutter your world at home
People who have tidied their bedroom, done the dishes or simply put things away before going to bed have a 60 per cent better chance of being mentally comfortable when sleeping. If things are left to do, the brain will be thinking about the fact those chores will have to be done the next day.
Remove all apps
Communication tools are stimulating and will disturb sleep if kept by the bed.
The bedroom should be treated as a sanctuary, a place you go to when you are going to sleep.
The more you educate the brain to think of it as such, the easier it will be to fall asleep.
Get into bed 30 minutes before sleep time, curl up and allow the process to kick in.
A cool bedroom temperature and cool bed linen are great sleep triggers. If you go into a cool bed, your natural body heat will warm up the bed anyway and allow the sleep cycle to kick in.
A hot bedroom and bed is counter-productive for sleep. The best is to have a quick warm shower before going into bed in order to raise body temperature.