Your sleep cycle can be cast into disarray by child care or work responsibilities, with disrupted nights resulting in debilitating brain fog. Here are some handy hints for resetting your body clock.
1. If possible, go to sleep at approximately the same time each night, and wake up at the same time every morning, even on the weekend. This helps to reinforce your body’s natural sleep/wake cycle.
2. Expose yourself to light in the mornings. Turn on bright lights, or go for a morning walk.
3. At night time, particularly when you’re getting close to going to bed, stay away from computer and TV screens and any other brightly lit electronic devices. Dim any lights and keep your bedroom dark.
4. Don’t eat a big meal at night time, as this can compromise sleep quality and may lead to weight gain.
5. Limit caffeine after lunch time.
6. Nicotine is a stimulant. If you can quit smoking, you may find a good night’s sleep is one of the many improvements you’ll notice to your overall wellbeing.
7. Avoid alcohol in the evenings. It has an initial sedative effect, but once this wears off the process of metabolising it in the body can result in wakefulness. It also affects sleep quality, leading to reduced REM sleep.
8. Exercise for a minimum of 20 minutes per day. Avoid cardio workouts late in the day, as they can overstimulate your metabolism, leading to sleeplessness.
9. Take a melatonin supplement. This can help to override your biological clock if it’s out of rhythm.
10. Do gentle stretches and breathing exercises before bed. Relaxing the body and mind will help you to wind down before your head touches the pillow.