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Sleep hygiene

Powering down each night helps you power up each day.

Everyone needs sleep. Sleep hygiene is about good sleep habits.

Getting the right amount makes a massive difference to how you feel. Experts say you’re going to need between 8.5 to 12 hours a night. Not getting enough sleep, or over-sleeping, is often the first tell-tale sign that things are not going well for us.

If you can get a good sleep routine down you’ll feel way more rested in the morning. Proper sleep means you can start the day with a brain that’s switched on and ready to go. That makes things much easier than fighting through that morning brain fog.

So let’s get our sleep right. 

Aunty Dee’s tips on how to get a good night’s sleep

Getting your sleep right takes time and effort. Try my programme out below for one to two weeks and see what difference it makes!

1. Your bed is your sanctuary

Prepare your bed and room for a good night’s sleep by doing the following.

  • Keep your bed for sleeping. Not for doing homework, reading books, messaging your friends, or playing games on your phone. Your mind needs to know that when you lie down on your bed, it’s sleep time. Keep that strong and powerful link between bed and sleep.
  • Make sure your bedroom is quiet and you can make it dark (eg with curtains and turning out lights). Have some ear plugs and an eye blindfold by your bed ready to use if you need it.
  • Have an alarm clock so you can wake up at the same time each morning (see routines below).
  • Try to keep your room temperature comfortable – too warm or too cold tends to interfere with sleep. Use a fan for those hot summer nights.
  • Try really hard not to watch TV or use mobile devices in bed! They are over-stimulating and can sometimes trick your body in to thinking it's day time. Move devices into another room so you are not tempted.

2. Form a routine – train your brain

  • Getting into a routine helps because it sets your body clock which helps you get a good night’s rest. The idea is to teach your body to go to sleep and get up at the same time each day. Keep in mind it takes time to retrain your brain! But the better you stick to the same routine the sooner it will have an effect and you’ll find yourself feeling much better when you wake up in the morning. Give it a go, even if it feels weird to you.  
  • Power down during the last hour or two of the day. Save vigorous physical or mental activity for during the day. When you’re stressed out, try and calm down before going to bed. Play some soft and mellow music or practice a bit of meditation. Read my advice for relaxation. Try creating a sleep mix by selecting sounds and music that you like.
  • Create a sleep ritual before bedtime – some sort of activity you do every night before you go to bed. You could use music, candles, fragrance, a hot shower or a long bath before bedtime can help you relax.
  • Go to bed at regular times, even if you’re tired in the morning.
  • Set your alarm to help you get into your routine. It can actually help to not lie in. When you wake up your brain needs to be told it’s time for you to get up. To help it get the message you could open the curtains and turn on the light.

3.  Rules and sticking to rules can help you sleep - make your own 

  • During the night if you aren’t asleep, get out of bed. Don’t try to make yourself sleep. If you are lying in bed awake after 20-30 minutes, leave your bed and engage in a relaxing activity (TV and mobile devices are fine if not in your bed). Try not going back to bed until you are sleepy.
  • Sleep when you are sleepy. If your body or brain is not keen to sleep you could try using energy on something productive.
  • Naps during the day can throw your routine out of whack so try and avoid them if you are having major sleeping problems.
  • Avoid heavy meals, heavy alcohol consumption and smoking before bedtime. Also, if you like your coffee, try and only drink it in the morning.
  • Exercise really helps with sleep, a minimum of 20 minutes every day can really impact on your sleep.

4.  When those annoying thoughts keep you awake

  • Depression and anxiety often lead to problems sleeping. If you are really worried, get help from a professional. They can help with feeling down, worrying and sleeplessness. Sometimes though, you can try a few things yourself before calling in the pros.
  • Try Aunty Dee’s tips for relaxation.
  • Don’t watch the clock too much. Frequently checking the clock during the night can wake you up (especially if you turn on the light to read the time) and reinforces negative thoughts such as “oh no, I’m not going to get my 8.5 hours sleep!”
  • Schedule in a worry break: Ruminating, re-playing negative situations, or just worrying about tomorrow are all unhelpful thoughts and feelings that can keep you from a good night’s sleep. Schedule in 20 minutes a day to write down all the things that worry you. Put them in a special place (create a ‘worry jar’!), and Ask Aunty Dee to help you with them tomorrow by entering them in to your problem solving profile.
  • Accept those nights when you don’t sleep as well. You will still function the next day, even if you only had a couple of hours sleep. The less you fight or are fearful of sleeplessness, the more it will tend to go away.
  • Some people find it helpful to use a sleep diary which can make sure you have the right facts about your sleep, rather than making assumptions. Use it to get an idea of what’s going on for you, and then perhaps two months down the track see how you are progressing.