We’ve all been there before. Lying in bed at night trying to go to sleep and getting nowhere.
While there’s plenty of advice out there, from counting sheep to meditating, it turns out we may have been using the wrong approach all along.
Professor Richard Wiseman of the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire told the Daily Mail that rather than just lying there trying to sleep we should practice reverse psychology and do something to keep us awake.
Wiseman says we should try something that quietens the mind while consuming our focus. Reading, drawing or crafting activities, such as knitting or embroidery, could all help.
The importance of sleep has been recognised in recent years as vital to good health. A good night’s sleep helps reset our brains and bodies and enables us to think clearly and remain energetic the next day.
Our sleeping patterns and requirements change a lot as we get older and there are many tweaks we need to make to our daily routine to help us sleep at night.
Some of the most important changes come in our diet.
Once we hit our 60s, our bodies don’t process food or caffeine as fast as they used to. Experts recommend leaving a three-hour gap between your last meal and bedtime.
Dr Carmel Harrington, author of The Sleep Diet, says over-60s should adjust their daily mealtimes to compensate for changes in their metabolism.
“Bring your dinner time forward by an hour or have a main meal in the middle of the day and only a light meal at night,” Dr Harrington told Starts at 60. “That’s really quite important as we age.”
She says sleep discipline is important and that we need to account for our bodies changing needs as we age. Setting up a nightly sleep routine that includes switching off from all devices at least an hour before bed can help ensure we sleep through the night rather than waking up every few hours.
“Unless we get some discipline around sleep and start to recognise its basic importance in our health and wellbeing we’re in for a chaotic future,” Dr Harrington says.
“With the rise of technology we’ve lost our discipline when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep and all of a sudden we’re recognising this as a real health issue.”