Sick to death of me waking her up in the night from my restlessness and not being able to sleep, my wife went to the pharmacist to buy me some sleeping pills. Nothing requiring a prescription. Not an homeopathic treatment either: she knew that my agreement with Dr Ben Goldacre‘s point-of-view would make it rather unlikely I would benefit from a placebo effect. On the packet, the pill is advertised as a “traditional remedy for minor sleep disorders” … in other words there is no scientific evidence that the pill has any medical efficacy whatsoever. My heart sank: a potential waste of effort. But wait! What is this written on the leaflet? Some good advice! Now that I consider to be worth something. So, for you, my blog readers, here it is, for free (no copyright), translated from the French and with my comments in brackets.
The five rules for managing stress
- Do not avoid your problems: express them and talk about them with someone you can trust,
- Set aside some quality time for yourself on a leisure or relaxing activity for at least one hour,
- Set aside some quality time to spend with your family or friends,
- Create personal projects and plan outings, trips and holidays,
- Maintain a balanced diet, eating regularly.
Minor sleeping disorders
Recommendations for good sleep.
- Exercise during the day:
- Even moderate physical activity (walking, standing, bicycling, …) encourages the need to sleep at night;
- Outdoor activities in daylight help to regulate sleep cycles;
- At the end of the afternoon, avoid stimulants such as tobacco, coffee, tea and caffeine-based sodas;
- Eat a light dinner [tea for you northerners …], avoiding red meat and alcohol.
- Prepare your night before you go to bed:
- The evening must be set aside for a pleasurable and relaxing activity, avoiding all emotional tension;
- In particular, avoid intense physical or intellectual activities in the two hours before you go to bed;
- Go to bed as soon as you start to feel sleepy and read a book for 10 to 15 minutes before turning out the lights.
- Prepare your day the night before:
- Go to bed at a set hour – you can ensure your organism maintains its natural sleep cycle by respecting your biological rhythms with a strictly kept routine;
- Sleep at the right temperature – keeping the temperature in your bedroom between 18°C and 22°C is necessary for a restorative sleep and will limit awakenings in the night.
10 [sic] rules that can help you to sleep well.
- In the morning, try to get up regularly at the same time.
- During the day-time, get yourself out in the open air.
- Try to have moderate physical activity every day for at least 30 minutes.
- Do not take a day-time nap for more than 30 minutes or after 4pm.
- After 4pm drink no coffee, tea or caffeinated drink and avoid tobacco.
- Ensure your meal of the day is light and consumed at least two hours before going to bed.
- Practice relaxing activitites after dinner [tea…]
- No hot showers or baths before bed-time but warm ones are OK.
- Go to bed regularly at a set hour.
- Ensure that your bedroom is completely dark, with a temperature of between 18°C and 22°C.
- Get up when you cannot find sleep, and get up if you wake up earlier than expected.
So what do you think? Anything to add? Personally, knowing the habit of mind that bad thoughts avoided or pushed aside during the day tend to resurface at night, I would add the advice you can find in my webpage on being nice to oneself. Let me know.