Sleep tipsOptimal sleeping conditions can help you get to sleep and stay asleep.
Are you up for hearing some sleep tips?
You may be thinking, I don’t have a SLEEP problem, I have a RESTLESS LEGS PROBLEM. If I didn’t have RLS, I would be sleeping!
I get that and I thought the same thing, but when you’re struggling with any sort of sleep issue, it makes sense to have your sleeping conditions as perfect as they can be.
On my crusade to heal my RLS, I read a ton of info on sleep and there were two ideas I put into practice that made a big difference.
Top tip # 1 – Darkness
Many sleep experts believe you should sleep in completely darkness. A sleep mask can help you achieve this easily and cheaply. If you’re not comfortable wearing one, then you’ll need to make your room as dark as possible. Black out curtains or blinds are ideal. Sometimes light comes in over the top of windows and blinds and this is hard to fix, but something I’ll be thinking about if I ever renovate my bedroom!
If you’re really serious about eliminating light, there are some great products out there to create a pitch black room – often developed by shift workers who really need them. If you want to try full black out without committing to any permanent changes, you could try blue tacking some black card to windows to block out light. That should give you an idea of whether it makes a difference. I did that in the hallway where an aggressive street light was shining through and it was brilliant.
Anything giving off an electronic light needs to be removed from your bedroom, for example lights from laptops and digital clocks.
Top tip # 2 – Temperature
Are you slightly too hot or too cold at night? This can make a big different to your sleep. Cooler is generally thought to be better for a good night’s sleep. Really pay attention to your room temperature and how you feel during different parts of the night. If your legs are challenged, I would recommend you don’t cover them with heavy blankets – adjust the heating so your bed covers are as light as possible. Like all these things, keep trying and see what works best for you. Read my section on keeping your legs at the right temperature here. I definitely couldn’t sleep without a fan in summer.
Other ideas worth considering:
Minimise distracting sounds
When you get in to bed there should be as few distracting sounds as possible. If you can’t control your environment, you could try a white noise app or ear plugs.
No screens before bed
Try not to use any screens an hour before bedtime. This includes TV, smartphones, tablets and laptops. They increase alertness and the blue light suppresses melatonin which helps us sleep.
Consider what you eat and drink
Most health professionals recommend eating only lightly in the evening and at least a couple of hours before bed. Large protein-rich meals are better eaten at lunchtime when you still need the energy.
Alcohol can make you tired but often ends up making your sleep more restless. Caffeine is notorious for keeping people awake at night and many people find they need to avoid coffee or coca cola past 2pm. Try to limit drinking close to bedtime at all so you don’t have to wake up unnecessarily to use the bathroom.
Have a regular sleep routine
Establish a routine that enables you to wind down half an hour before bedtime. It might be having a shower, reading or another quiet activity. Keep consistent timing for sleeping and waking, even during the weekend if you can.
There is so much written by experts on the optimal conditions for sleeping. Read up on this and try different things to see what works for you.