Ditch the phone before bed! 16 tips for a good night’s sleep

Does exercising help you sleep better? Will a short nap during the day affect your sleep at bedtime?

In his latest book Lifespan: the new science of the biological clock and how it can revolutionize your sleep and your healthBritish neuroscientist Professor Russell G. Foster explains how understanding how our biological clock works affects the quality of our sleep and our overall well-being.

Here, the director of the Sir Jules Thorn Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute (SCNi) in Oxford, England, shares the following tips on how to sleep well at night.

> During the day, expose yourself to morning light, which is an excellent way to set the biological clock.

> If you take a nap, do not do so for more than 20 minutes and not too close to bedtime.

> When exercising, try to do it in the morning, and not too close to bedtime, as this increases core body temperature, and one of the processes of falling asleep is to lower body temperature central.

> Having large evening meals makes it much more likely that food will be turned into fat rather than burned off during the day. If we increase our BMI, we are much more vulnerable to conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea.

When you exercise, try to do it in the morning and not too close to bedtime, as this raises body temperature. Photo: 123rf.com

> Reduce your light levels about 30 minutes before bedtime. The greater the light, the greater your vigilance.

> Do not use electronic devices, which have alert effects, before going to bed.

> Ideally, avoid sleeping pills as they are essentially sedatives.

> Avoid talking about stressful topics before sleeping.

> Practice relaxation techniques before going to bed, such as taking a relaxing bath or listening to soothing music. Using mindfulness as a relaxation technique can also put us in the right frame of mind to sleep.

Avoid talking about stressful topics before sleeping. Avoid talking about stressful topics before sleeping.

> Ensure an environment conducive to sleep with a comfortable bed, mattress and pillows. Your room should also be dark and quiet, with an ideal temperature of 18-22°C.

> Don’t look at the clock. Sometimes you wake up in the middle of the night, look at the clock, find that there are two hours left until the alarm goes off, and you might be stressed. Turn off your clock or cover it.

> Don’t take sleep apps too seriously. They’re relatively good at telling you roughly when you go to bed and when you wake up in the morning, how many times you’ve woken up during the night, but no more than that.

> Stick to a sleep routine – go to bed and get up at the same time on working days and on days off.

> Define your sleep space with a specific smell like lavender, so when you enter that space, you will associate it with sleep. This can be useful when traveling.

> If your partner is snoring and you cannot cope despite using earplugs, find another sleeping space. It is not a reflection of the quality of your relationship.

> Jet lag is largely corrected by exposure to light in the new time zone and can also be helped by eating at the correct time in the new time zone. A rule of thumb: if you are going west (eg from London to New York), expose yourself to outdoor light in the afternoon. If you are traveling east (eg from London to China), wear dark glasses in the morning in the new time zone to reduce your exposure to light. In the late afternoon, actively search for light to advance the clock to the new time zone. Do this for four to five days.