Friday 3rd April 2020

The sleep cycle

The first thing we need to know about sleep is that it’s actually made up of two things.

One: the body clock. So that’s our 24-hour rhythm that makes us drowsy and keeps us awake, hopefully, during the day.

The other part of the sleep cycle is the drive to sleep. When you wake up in the morning, you shouldn’t really have a drive to sleep – you shouldn’t have a need. But that will increase as the day progresses.

The important thing is to always try to get the body clock and the sleep drive working together.

How do you do that? One of the key points is: always try to get up at the same time every day. That will allow both the body clock and the drive to work in sync, in order to help you sleep at night.

It’s also important to try not to nap in the late afternoon, or nap for too long. If you do need to nap, try doing it in the morning, certainly try to do it before 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and try to keep it to 30 minutes or less.

Top tips on how to sleep better:

  • Always try to get up at the same time every day
  • If you need to nap, do it in the morning – and keep it to 30 minutes or less.

How to calm your mind before bed

One of the things that we have a problem with sometimes is our minds get very full at night and we can’t stop thinking. As much as we try to stop thinking, all of these thoughts keep coming in.

The best techniques to deal with that… there’s two ways.

The first part is putting the day to bed before you go to bed. About an hour and a half before bedtime, set yourself a little bit of time just to write down a to-do list. All of the things that you’ve got to do tomorrow, all of your concerns.

By doing that, that’s gonna give you control over how you feel later on, and it should leave you a little bit more relaxed for bed.

However, we know that if you’re in bed and you’re not sleeping, you are likely to start thinking.

So how can we deal with that? Well, we’ve all heard about counting sheep. Counting sheep is great as a principle, but it doesn’t actually work because it’s too simple.

One technique is to actually try counting backwards, from a thousand, in sevens.

Now that sounds pretty tough, and it’s meant to be, because what it’s gonna do is it’s gonna absorb your whole mind. You can’t think about anything else, and your brain is eventually just going to say ‘You know what, I’m bored, I’m going to bed.’

Top tips:

  • About an hour and a half before bedtime, write down your to-do list and concerns
  • Instead of counting sheep, try counting backwards, from a thousand, in sevens.

What to do when you can’t sleep

It’s quite common for us not to be able to sleep at night when we’ve got things on our mind: anxiety, stress, sometimes we’ve got too much going on.

How are we going to manage that? One of the best techniques is not to try to sleep. If you ask all of your friends who sleep well how they do it, what you’ll find is that they probably say they don’t know, they just get into bed and do it.

So the key point here is don’t try to sleep. If you find yourself trying, it’s probably better for you to get up for a bit, get out of bed, and go and do something interesting but not too mentally stimulating.

When you feel tired again, go back to bed. Key point is, don’t try to do it and it will come naturally to you.

Top tips:

  • If you can’t sleep, don’t try too hard – get out of bed and go and do something interesting but not too mentally stimulating.
  • When you feel tired again, go back to bed.