HOW TO GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
Dr Jeffrey Lipsitz offers these suggestions:
Make sure your room is quiet and dark and your bed is comfortable.
Get up and go to bed at the same time everyday.
Limit your caffeine and nicotine intake.
Eat dinner at least 2-3 hours before bedtime – its more difficult to fall asleep if your body is still breaking down food. A light snack just before bedtime may be helpful, however.
Exercise regularly. Physical activity done early in the day may promote deeper, better-quality sleep – though too-vigorous exercise just before bedtime may delay sleep.
If you have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep:
Don’t toss and turn for longer than half an hour: get up and do something calming, like reading.
Develop a relaxing pre-sleep ritual: have a glass of warm milk or herbal tea; read a book or have a bath.
Get treatment for any medical problems that may contribute to sleep troubles, such as sleep apnoea and restless-leg syndrome.
If you still have trouble sleeping, there are a number of sleep aids available. Though sleeping pills are significantly safer than they used to be – they are less addictive and they can clear the body more quickly – “even the drug companies will tell you that they’re not for use in chronic insomnia, because they won’t make you a better sleeper. They may help you fall asleep on the nights that you take them, but you can develop a tolerance to them” says Lipsitz. They are, however, safe for short term use. “The most appropriate use of sleeping pills is for situational insomnia: a person who normally sleeps well develops insomnia because of an acute stress,” says Dr S.R. Dong. But insomnia that lasts for more than a few weeks may signal more serious problems. Consult your doctor before taking any kind of sleeping aid.