One of the worst things about drinking is its impact on sleep (for more information on this click here) and one of the greatest gains in stopping is to get back to sleeping well and getting the good quality sleep you need so you wake up feeling refreshed, positive, and ready to face the day.
Let me be quite clear on this; feeling physically healthy and refreshed isn’t compensation for giving up the ‘pleasure’ of alcohol, it is a far better feeling than that induced by any drink you’ve ever drunk, even that all important first drink of the day.
This being the case I thought it would be useful to put together some tips to make sure you improve your sleeping as soon as possible, and to make sure it stays at the best possible level it can.
1. Try to cut down on caffeinated drinks, particularly later in the day. Definitely avoid caffeine in the evenings and, if you can, in the afternoon as well. Bear in mind also that nicotine is also a powerful stimulant.
2. Try to do as much exercise / physical activity as you can, and as early in the day as you can manage. The more physical activity you have undertaken during the day the better you will sleep, but vigorous physical activity will increase oxygen flow and adrenaline which makes you feel more awake. So do as much as you can as early as you can.
3. Eating a large meal can make you feel tired as the body diverts significant resources to digestion, but the digestive process involves much internal movement and can generate a lot of heat. This can disturb your sleep. So try to have your main meal at lunchtime, and eat as light as you can in the evening. If you can manage it don’t eat at all after lunch. It may feel strange to begin with but the effect on quality of sleep is dramatic, particularly for those used to eating a lot in the evening.
4. If you are waking up regularly in the night, you may be going to bed too early. If you need 8 hours sleep, and you are in bed for 9, then you are going to spend an hour of your time in bed awake. Due to the way our sleep patterns work the tendency is to wake up during the night. If your routine allows it try to get up at the same time every day (even weekends / non work days) as this gets you into a good waking routine. If you are waking up in the night a lot you can then put you bedtime back a bit to find the right level. Having said this, if you are not feeling tired during the day then waking up at night isn’t really anything to be too concerned about.
5. No matter how tired you are, or how stringently you follows all these instructions, if you go to bed with your head full of things that worry or upset or anger you, you will struggle to sleep. One of the knacks to falling asleep is to get everything negative and upsetting out of your mind and to focus on something comforting and relaxing. As I say this is a knack, it takes time and effort but the more you do it the easier it gets. Meditating is one way of doing this, or losing yourself in a good book, but essentially what it amounts to is filling your mind up with comforting, happy thoughts. It may focus on a particular thing, or indulge in a little night-time fantasy you create for yourself like hiding away somewhere safe and quiet and warm, but the key is to empty your mind of all the worries, stresses and strains of the day.
I hope this is useful, if anyone has anything else to add please feel free to put them in the comments section below.