I looked at the clock… 01:00. Damn, I knew I had to wake up in 4 hours time, and despite my best efforts I’d not managed to fall asleep since going to bed 3 hours ago. My body was tired, I was yawning but my brain seems to be wired and despite my best efforts refused all attempts to shut it down. For me, hopefully, this was a rare bout of insomnia – and it will make my two days at a conference (full of prospects), interesting on virtually no sleep! Most of us from time to time will struggle to get to sleep, and this can severely impact our ability to deliver at work and be present at home in the evening. So what can you do about your temporary or more persistent insomnia? Lots as it happens… 1) Do some exercise after work This helps to reduce the amount of adrenaline you have circulating in your body. Very often when we have a long day at work we will over-adrenalise our bodies to get the work done. Exercise is a great way of helping you de-stress (another major cause of insomnia) as well as removing adrenaline from your body. Exercise helps you produce serotonin, which is the precursor to melanomin, which is the chemical that helps our body go into deep sleep. 2) Have a wind down routine A set wind down routine before bed time is a great way of helping you relax and programme your brain to prepare your body for sleep. Doing some relaxation exercises or yoga or Pilates is a great way to shut your mind down. 3) Reduce your caffeine intake Too much caffeine keeps our brains alert and awake. Aim to limit your caffeine after midday and drink decaffeinated versions of coffee and tea if possible. 4) Try sleep-inducing foods Hot milk, Horlicks, hot chocolate, bananas and dark chocolate all contain chemicals that help you sleep. Pass me some chocolate please! 5) Avoid eating rich, greasy large meals late at night These can all stop you from sleeping well, particularly if you are suffering from heartburn or indigestion. 6) Avoid working late This one is my worst enemy. When I am working in the evening on my latest book project, I struggle to get to sleep as my mind is still active. Although it is not always possible, aim to leave time between stopping thinking about work, and when you want to go to bed. 7) Keep your phone and iPad out of the bedroom. The bedroom is for sleeping (and perhaps a few other things!), but you need to train your brain that your bed is not for working. Plus, I don’t know about you but the amount of times an alert on my phone will wake me up… If needs be, get a separate kindle rather than read books on your kindle app on your phone or iPhone in bed. 8) Do something else If you find yourself tossing and turning for more than 30 minutes. Change what you are doing. Go to the toilet, get a hot drink, read a book, listen to some calming music. This can help you out of a pattern of struggling to sleep. What would be your 9th tip?
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