Sleep problems often arise when you reach your 50s and can become a real problem in your sixties when about 50% of people struggle to get to sleep or stay asleep in the early hours.
And at times like Xmas when we can all get a bit stressed or eat and drink more than we normally do it can stop us getting good quality sleep.
Sleep expert Dr Guy Meadow set out some advice in the Times a short while ago which is worth repeating:
Don’t go to bed too early. Because you go out less you probably go to bed earlier. You might try going to bed later after having a bath or reading so you feel really tired
Don’t drink alcohol before sleep. Alcohol is a sedative but it also disturbs sleep and can arouse your body increasing your heart rate, your sweating, and dehydration.
Check your medication isn’t interfering with sleep. Blood pressure and cholesterol medication can affect sleep quality so check with your GP for alternatives.
Don’t drink too much water. It’s striking a balance between becoming dehydrated and getting up in the night. A glass of water by the bed should help.
Eat light at night. Don’t go to bed on a full stomach as indigestion will keep you awake. Not eating at all and your stomach will let you know of that too. A banana or glass of milk will help but not things that give you a sugar rush and wake you up. Avoid coffee or tea, which both contain caffeine. Try herbal drinks or hot milk
Do some exercise but don’t overdo it. Yoga can improve brain function. Gentle stretching and walking also help (but not in your sleep of course!) Yoga can also calm anxiety.
Open your bedroom window. Sleeping in a stuffy bedroom can impair sleep quality. Staying indoors more and lack of fresh air means a stuffy environment, snoring and poor sleep. Open window even if only while you get ready for bed. It will improve air circulation and stop you over-heating.
Don’t accept snoring. May be caused by smoking, too much alcohol, your medication. Consider getting a better mattress, a bigger bed or separate duvets.
Practise mindfulness. Dr Meadows prefers teaching mindfulness rather than relaxation exercises as if relaxation doesn’t work that can be a source of frustration. Mindfulness involves focussing on the here and now. How the pillow feels, your own breathing, sounds you can hear.
You can download the Sleep School App which features mindfulness exercises and other advice from thesleepschool.org for £2.99. Click on the support products page.
NB This is not a sponsored posting. I have no connection with Dr Meadow or his products.