5 top tips for a good night’s sleep

Although we can feel powerless in the face of poor sleep, there are some simple changes we can make to ensure that we are supporting rather than undermining our body’s internal sleep systems. We've turned to Anna Black and her brand new book Mindfulness and Sleep for her 5 top tips for a good night's shut eye!



Body temperature plays an important role in sleep. We fall asleep as our body temperature drops, and a lower body temperature also helps us to stay asleep before it begins to rise in the early hours as we waken. You can encourage a drop in body temperature deliberately by taking a hot bath or shower about an hour before bedtime and then making sure your environment is cool (about 63ºF/17ºC). As the body cools, you will begin to feel sleepy. Ideally, exercise no less than 4 hours before going to bed, to avoid elevating your core temperature.



Stabilize your circadian rhythm by going to bed and getting up at the same time—even at weekends and when on vacation.



Alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and other stimulants are best avoided in the evening and perhaps even in the afternoon. Notice how you are affected. It is important to check ingredients—you may be surprised how prevalent caffeine is. It can be found in chocolate, many sodas, and even energy drinks.



Certain types of food eaten too near bedtime can affect your sleep, but they can affect everyone differently, so if you think food may be a factor pay attention to what you eat when completing a Sleep Diary.



Notice what helps you to move from the busy-ness of the day to winding down toward bedtime. Avoid or keep to a minimum activities that keep you buzzing. However, notice if there is a sense of striving when it comes to doing particular activities or behaving in a particular way, with the expectation that they will lead to a good night’s sleep. This is unhelpful too.


This extract is from Mindfulness and Sleep by Anna Black.