Say goodnight to sleep problems with top tips

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Lots of people I’ve been talking to recently have been complaining of having problems with sleep – either they find it hard to drop off to sleep or they find themselves waking several times during the night, either to use the toilet or to worry!

I have always been a very light sleeper – even more so since having children. Recently I find I try and make time for a night time wind- down routine and mostly this guarantees me a good night’s sleep.

If you want to start having less stress in your life, you need to have a good morning, and to have a good morning you need to maximise your quality of sleep.

If you use the following five steps tonight, you’ll immediately take charge of your sleep and allow your body to get the best quality sleep possible – even if you have little ones or struggle with aches and pains that keep you up.

· Black out your room and that means no lights at all. A blackout blind is the best option here. Put a shirt over any small lights (like your phone or computer).

Your internal energy (circadian rhythms) are set and governed by light, so sleeping with any lights on in your room, however small, messes up your quality of sleep.

· Move your phone or plug it in away from your bed. It’s disrupting your sleep with both light and the distraction of texting or e-mail.

· Set the temperature. Research shows that most people sleep better when the air temperature in the room is between 18 and 19 degrees.

A room that’s too hot can cause you to wake up frequently and become dehydrated from sweating.

If you’re someone who thinks this is too cold, stick on some socks and you’ll feel just fine.

· No more snoozing – move your alarm clock across the room. When the alarm goes off it’s good to have to get out of bed and feel the new day on your skin before you turn off your alarm. It’s not helpful to keep waking up every five minutes.

Set the time and commit to getting up then by forcing yourself to get out of bed.

To be honest I find that if I get to bed at a reasonable time, I’ve eaten properly and am not stressed out, I naturally wake with without an alarm.

· Before bed, clear your head. Take a moment to think about everything bouncing around in your head that’s unfinished.

Take control of your worries. Let’s face it—most of us lead very stressful lives. Stress, surprises and changes can take a toll on your sleep habits.

Schedule some relaxing time each day for stretching, meditation or a hot bath.

Try to decrease your brain activity before bed by writing down your thoughts in a journal and closing the book on the day.

If thinking keeps you up at night, get out of bed and try to be productive. Deal with those thoughts (pay the bill that you are worried about forgetting, make a to-do list, etc in a positive way, and return to bed when you’re ready to sleep.

· Watch what you’re eating. As you lie down to sleep, acids in the stomach level out, making heartburn and indigestion more likely to occur.

Also, your metabolism increases slightly to digest food, which can also raise your energy level.

Try and stop eating at least three hours before your scheduled bedtime.

If you must snack on something, keep it small. A banana is ideal as it contains tryptophan, an amino acid that brings feelings of calm.

Say no to stimulants like caffeine and nicotine, which can raise blood pressure and energy levels.

Alcohol may be a depressant, but after its sedative effects wear off your sleep patterns will suffer.

· Nikki Caputa is a health and fitness coach who works one-to-one with clients and runs her own fitness camps where she trains groups. Known as FAB Body Bootcamps, two are based in Fareham and one is in Portsmouth. Nikki is also an ambassador for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.

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