In general practice it is not uncommon to see patients with sleep issues – either issues falling asleep due to a racing mind or people who wake frequently at night and have trouble falling back asleep as they start thinking. Below are 5 key strategies to implore to improve sleep quality; these are often prescribed in general practice!
- Strictly no screens in the 1 hour before bed. No TV/iPAD/phone use at all – the blue light exposure when you watch screens reduces the melatonin production in the brain and melatonin is the hormone that helps with sleep!
- Reduce caffeine consumption in the day (aiming for 1 or 2 caffeinated drinks only per day). If you are having troubles falling asleep try avoiding any caffeine after midday.
- Some form of exercise in sunlight during the day can help night time sleep as it helps regulate circadian rhythms. Even a 30-minute walk at lunch time may help you sleep better at night!
- Try and keep to a regular bed time and wake time – this helps the brain get used to when it should be resting!
- Routine is key – every night in the hour before bed try and do a regular bedtime routine so your brain is trained to know it is time to wind down. For some patients this might include a warm bath or shower, reading a book in dim light or doing mindful colouring or crosswords. Find a routine that works for you and stick to it, and ensure that routine does not include screen time!