Useful tips to aid sleep | Association of Anaesthetists

Useful tips to aid sleep

How to get a good sleep

In order for sleep to happen, there needs to be deep relaxation. Focus on this first.

Deep relaxation is very restorative. Sleep should follow, but if it doesn't, try not to worry too much as this will make you feel even more wide awake.

Here are some tips that might help improve your sleep.

Unchallenge your brain

  • The absence of light stimulates melatonin release. Try an eye mask and blackout blinds or curtains
  • Avoid using electronic devices for 30-60 min before bed
  • Block out unwanted sound with earplugs
  • Try listening to a podcast or hypnosis audio on a gentle volume to help you fall asleep

Have a hot bath

The drop in temperature the body undergoes after a hot bath or shower helps the onset of sleep.

Bed socks encourage peripheral vasodilation and can help optimise body temperature.

Keep your room cool and your bed warm.

Sleep in a way that works for you

Before the existence of artificial light, natural sleep was in two distinct phases, with a break of several hours in-between. Not everyone manages to sleep for a solid eight hours, it's what's right for you that matters.

Be prepared

Here are some suggestions to help reduce anxiety and overthinking, to help your brain switch off and relax:

  • Exercise regularly, but not too close to bedtime
  • Download a yoga nidra or meditation audio 
  • Write a 'to do' list rather than inevitably thinking of one as you try to sleep
  • Accept help with tasks you can delegate

Power napping tips

I find it very hard to sleep before/in between night shifts, how can I manage this?

This is a common prblem affecting night shift workers. These extra tips on power napping might be useful:

  • You need a quiet, dark room which is not too hot or cold
  • Ideally somewhere you can lie down flat
  • Ideal length is 20 minutes (10-30 minutes) - you don't want to fall into a deep sleep and have to wake up from that. Set your alarm, giving yourself a bit of time to relax first
  • Consider a small dose of caffeine before your nap, it will then be kicking in as you wake. Avoid (or reduce dose) if you need to sleep again when you get home
  • Don't worry about falling asleep, instead think about relaxing. There are various breathing techniques and audio tools that you can try. Keep your eyes closed even if you can't sleep

You might also be interested in: