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Getting to sleep at night can be difficult for many reasons, with both our physical and mental health playing a part.
While mastering the act of falling asleep quickly is definitely an achievement, it is only the first hurdle for getting enough sleep at night.
Staying asleep is yet another problem. Research by Bupa Health Clinics of 4,000 adults in the UK found that around three fifths of us routinely wake up at 4.05am.
While this phenomenon is usually harmless, it can cause problems if you are unable to go back to sleep afterwards.
With this in mind Lisa Artis, from the Sleep Charity and working alongside sleep specialists Simba, shared six habits to avoid that could be stopping you from returning to sleep.
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Avoid firing up the brain
This includes checking your phone or turning on the TV.
Lisa said: “Engaging in stimulating activities, such as checking emails, scrolling through social media, or tuning into a TV show on your mobile, can make it harder to relax and fall back asleep.
“The bright screens and mental stimulation can further disrupt your sleep-wake cycle. Instead, opt for calming activities like reading a book or listening to soothing music.”
Don’t fall into the nap trap
As tempting as it may be, resist the urge to take long naps during the day, especially if you’re consistently waking up at 4am.
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Lisa warned: “Napping can interfere with your sleep drive and make it harder to fall asleep at night. If you really need to nap, do so before 3pm, and keep it short (around 20 minutes).”
Steer clear of the buzz
Avoiding caffeine before going to bed seems like common sense, but Lisa recommends ditching it six hours in advance.
She said: “Don’t let caffeine and nicotine turn your sleep into a jittery jive.”
“Skip stimulants for six hours before bedtime opting for soothing sips instead.
“Prepare a comforting mug of golden milk, a traditional Ayurvedic remedial beverage made with turmeric, ginger, and warm milk.
“Turmeric contains curcumin, which has potential sleep-enhancing and anti-inflammatory properties that may aid in relaxation and improve sleep duration.”
Avoid sleep potion commotion
While sleep aids might seem like a quick fix, relying on them regularly can lead to dependence and mask the underlying issues causing your early morning awakenings.
Lisa said: “It’s best to reserve them for occasional use and consult a healthcare professional for proper guidance.”
Don’t stay in bed
It can be tempting to lie in bed hoping to fall back asleep.
“However, if you’ve been awake for more than 20 minutes, get up,” said Lisa.
“Staying in bed may create an association between wakefulness and your sleep environment, making it even harder to fall asleep in the future.”
Resist the temptation to turn on the ‘big light’
It can be tempting to turn on a bright light if you wake up, but this can signal your brain to stay awake.
Lisa added: “If you do get up, try and keep the light as low as possible while ensuring you can safely see.”
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