1156 GMT March 28, 2020
Most adults need around eight hours of sleep each night and as people get older they only have one deep period of sleep and wake more easily, according to express.co.uk.
The affects of not getting a good night sleep affect every aspect of life and restless sleep patterns, or not getting enough sleep, can eventually affect peoples’ day-to-day lives.
Dr. Craig Hudson, a practicing psychiatrist with an extensive background in brain research, created the BED Checklist which is broken down into three parts - behavior, environment and diet to help people sleep better.
Changing your behavior
“People are advised to maintain a regular sleep-wake time,” said Hudson. “Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time. Try not to lie in or stay up too late. If you had a bad night last night, don’t get into bed at 8pm thinking you will catch up. It doesn’t work that way.
“Avoid napping during the day to catch up as this only serves to steal deeper sleep you will need for the night.”
People are also advised not to do vigorous exercise before bed, but gentle yoga or stretching is fine.
Hudson said it is ‘very important’ to create a division between the stress of the day and time for sleep.
He said: “Give yourself at least 20 minutes of down time before bed. De-activate your mind, listen to so music, curl up on a couch, flip through a magazine. Television or reading may provide this for some people — but if you have insomnia, these may even be too stimulating.”
Experts said it does more harm to be spending a lot of time awake in bed so only go to bed if you are tired and don’t watch the clock.
Hudson said: “Make sure your alarm is working and then turn the clock to the wall or cover it with something. Looking at the clock and counting your awakenings makes you more vigilant and anxious. The extra light coming from a digital display will also affect melatonin production.
Hudson said: “The bedroom should be an oasis of sleep and you must come to associate the bed as a place for sleep, not activity and wakefulness. If you wake in the middle of the night, get out of bed. Tossing and turning leads to associating your bed with being awake and frustrated.
“Changing your behavior can help train your brain for sleepiness if you come to associate the bed with sleeping. Associate wakefulness with a chair that you place by your bed and sit in it when you are awake. Get back into bed when you feel sleepy again. It is most important that you reinforce to your brain that when you are lying in your bed, you are ready for sleep.”
Changing your environment
Hudson said: “Block the light out of the bedroom. Natural sleep results from the brain producing natural melatonin. This process is hampered by the presence of light. You need as much melatonin as you are able to produce so keeping the room as dark as possible will help you sleep. Buy black-out blinds, curtains or wear a good sleep mask.”
He also recommended blocking out noise by wearing ear plugs and keeping the room cool at night and avoiding watching television or being on a device before bed.
Hudson said: “A television, computer or other devices draw your attention away from the bedroom task which is sleep. These devices pull your concentration to worries and focuses that are better left to daytime when you may attend to them properly. Physically and mentally, you must make a division between your day and night activity.”
Changing your diet
Hudson advised people to avoid caffeine — found in tea, coffee and fizzy drinks — in the afternoon and evening avoiding food high in protein three hours before bed.
He said: “Natural melatonin production, necessary for healthy sleep, results from sufficient intake of high tryptophan foods such as milk, dairy, turkey, meats, nuts, eggs, legumes, pumpkin and sesame seeds. These are better consumed earlier in the day so that the available tryptophan in your system is not overpowered by the other amino acids.”
Hudson also recommended increasing carbohydrates before bed because carbs naturally act to ‘shunt the tryptophan taken in earlier in the day to the right place in the brain responsible for turning it into natural melatonin’.