Professor Wiseman’s checklist to a better night’s sleep

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Richard Wiseman

5 January 2021

With recent events only adding to our general stress levels, sleep has become even more important than ever.

Richard Wiseman is the professor in the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire and has taken a look at how we can all get a better night’s sleep.

According to Professor Wiseman, one of the main causes of sleep deprivation is the use of a smart phone, computer or tablet two hours before going to bed….so put them down!

However, it’s not all bad news; Richard has composed ten top tips to help us get the sleep we all deserve:

The top ten

  1. Banish the blues: Avoid using computers, smartphones or tablets in the two hours before you head to bed. The blue light stimulates your brain and prevents you feeling sleepy.
  2. The list: Make a list of all of the things that you have to do the next day or the things that are playing on your mind. This helps prevent you lying in bed thinking about these issues.
  3. Tire your brain: If you are struggling to sleep, make your brain tired by thinking of an animal for each letter of the alphabet (‘A’ is for ‘Ant’, ‘B’ is for ‘Bear’).
  4. Move your bed: You have evolved to feel safe when you can spot danger early and have time to run away, and so will feel most relaxed when your bed faces the door and is furthest from it.
  5. Reach for a banana: Eat a banana before you head to bed. They’re rich in carbohydrates, and these help relax your body and brain.
  6. Reverse psychology: Actively trying to stay awake actually makes you feel tired, so try keeping your eyes open and focus on not falling asleep.
  7. Wear socks: If you have bad circulation, your feet will get cold and cause sleeplessness. To avoid the problem, wear a pair of warm socks to bed.
  8. Avoid the lure of the nightcap: Although a small amount of alcohol puts you to sleep quicker, it also gives you a more disturbed night and disrupts dreaming.
  9. The power of association: Ensure that the same piece of soporific music is quietly playing each time you fall asleep. Over time you’ll come to associate the music with sleep, and so listening to it will help you to nod off.
  10. Do a jigsaw: If you lie awake for more than twenty minutes, get up and do something non-stimulating for a few minutes, such as working on a jigsaw.

Now there’s no excuse to miss out on a great night’s sleep. Good luck!

These tips were taken from his book – Night School: The Life-Changing Science of Sleep

Sleep and dreams

If these tips have left you wanting more, why not check out the first episode in our recent podcast series in which Richard talks about how people’s sleep has changed during the pandemic, what people can do to improve their sleep and the science behind dreaming.

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About Richard Wiseman

Ricahrd is Britain’s only Professorship in the Public Understanding of Psychology, is one of the most followed psychologists on Twitter, and the Independent On Sunday chose him as one of the top 100 people who make Britain a better place to live.

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