Sleep Management Techniques

Tip 1: Tune into your natural ‘wave of sleepiness’. Do not go to bed alert. Explanation: A sleep cycle lasts 90 minutes. Notice when you get drowsy, be ready to drop everything and immediately go to bed. If you miss the ‘wave’ by finishing off an episode or having a shower you will have to wait for the next 90 minute wave to fall asleep.

Tip 2: Use mindfulness to manage a ‘chattering/overactive mind’ keeping you awake. Explanation: Mindfulness exercises put intrusive thoughts to rest, and redirect your attention away from emotion-related material. This is necessary as your brain can only process and consolidate emotional memory during REM sleep (deepest part of sleep)

Tip 3: Create a drowsy brain before sleeping. Explanation: The brain needs to be in a calm state to fall asleep. Reduce your hyper-arousal levels 20 minutes before bed using quite activities, baths, herbals teas etc.

Tip 4: Do not lie in bed tossing and turning. Get up and go back to bed when sleepy. Explanation: Your bed becomes associated with frustration and anxiety, and so produces hyper-arousal. In turn, your frustration will keep you awake longer.

Tip 5: Address the environment you sleep in. Explanation: Your amagdala (alarm centre of your brain) scans for warning signals even while you sleep. A dark, quite and cool room will enable your brain to not go on alert.

Tip 6: Develop a sleep routine to transition you from active to sleep. Try the ‘Power Down Hour’ method for the final hour before bedtime.
Explanation: Sleep specialist Michael Breus’s suggests – Divide the final hour before bed into three 20-minute components: 20 minutes for preparing for the next day, 20 minutes for sleep hygiene, and 20 minutes for some form of meditation or relaxation.