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. Metro gets top tips and advice from sleeping coach Nick Littlehales, who helps celebrities and athletes optimize their beauty sleep.

1. Keep a consistent 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, the equivalent of five 90-minute cycles.

 

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.

2. Take regular breaks
Most people are desk bound and don’t stop for breaks. Taking short, five-minute breaks throughout the day in your work environment will allow for a moment of solitude and aid mental recovery, essential for sleep.

 

3. Have a healthy diet
Stimulate your body by balancing your food and fluid intake. Eat breakfast (digestive yogurts, cereals 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. Coffee raises cortisol levels, giving you a false impression of being awake.


All food and fluid intake should be over three to four hours prior to sleep. Meals too close to sleep time are disruptive as your brain and body are still active.


4. Exercise, exercise, exercise
We are healthier and generally more active than we used to be in the past. The increased pressure on society to be fit and healthy has led to many people over-doing it by training for triathlons, running, cycling to work etc.


If you choose to go the gym after work, then plan your 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 8 or 9 in the evening.



Time for some pillow talk with Dr. Carlos H. Schenck, sleep expert


Ten months ago, Karen Lennard realized that her husband’s sleep-talking habits were a little out of the ordinary. She began writing down her husband’s bizarre musings about Vampire Penguins and Zombie Guinea Pigs in a blog, Sleep Talkin' Man.


According to Dr. Carlos Schenck, sleep talking occurs in the lighter stages of sleep and has nothing to do with dreams. When someone dreams, they are paralysed and cannot talk, which is not the case with sleep-talking, when the subconscious is still active.



Create a sleep sanctuary


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.
sleepathlete.com