Londoners should be used to noise- traffic and police sirens are pretty normal if you live in zones 1-4. But what happens when your usual baby sleep turns into turmoil and fretful nights?
With new research appearing that sleeping pills can up your risk of things like dementia by up to 50% it's time to try some other trusty techniques to get your sleep pattern back when it's messed up by stress in the workplace, noisy flatmates and neighbours or an over active brain.
For worry and stress related sleeping
You need to get thoughts out of your head to let your mind shut down and turn to sleep. Try keeping a note pad by your bed if worrying thoughts keep popping into your mind. Jot them down on the notepad and then let them go - they'll be there, ready and waiting for you in the morning to worry about then - when you can actually do something about them.
Alternatively keep a note book or post it pad by your desk if it's work stressing you out. Write everything down for the next day - things you need to do, things you need to think about, things you must avoid - then mentally close the door on those notes as well as your office - or if working at home - the lid of your laptop.
If you are a general worrier and it's life or a given situation that's making things tough then remind yourself that everything seems worse at night - for many reasons- it's dark, there are no distractions and you can't put anything into action are just a few. So tell yourself - out loud if needs be - that this won't seem nearly as bad in the morning and in the morning, after a decent nights sleep you can tackle it properly but for now there is nothing you can do therefore let the thoughts go.
For noise and general nuisance
There is a great app called White Noise. This uses very little battery on your phone and plays continuos noise like rain or static or the sound of being on an aircraft. It is thought that having a continuous low level noise whilst you go to sleep and are asleep will stop your brain picking up on other, more unpredictable noise that would otherwise wake you up. Your new flatmate coming home at 5 in the morning with friends for example.
Earplugs! It seems so obvious doesn't it but earplugs are a Godsend. Many people avoid them because they think it's unsafe to wear earplugs whilst sleeping but so long as you get the right kind (that are safe for sleeping in as they are softer and have slightly less density that others) then you are fine and dandy and ready to have a peaceful, silent sleep!
For those that find it hard to turn off or be tired at all
It's all about routine. Get a bedtime routine. Whether that's getting into PJs and brushing your teeth before watching one final episode of a boxset or turning down covers and reading a chapter of a book or whatever you might like to do before bed - start doing it early and in a considered fashion rather than in a rush. It should begin to seep into your body that this is what happens when you are ready to shut down for the night and your brain should become more prepared as a result.
Also don't bring that ipad/phone/laptop to bed with you. Phones are forgiven for alarm clocks and White Noise apps but that's all. Looking at these screens stimulates your brain rather than allowing it to start to shut down. You also don't want to see a shitty email from work just before you are about to fall asleep - that can wait until tomorrow. It is generally advised that you should turn all screens and tech off at least half an hour before you plan to go to sleep.
Finally - exercise more - whether you start taking the steps instead of the lift, whether you get off the bus a couple of stops early or whether you join a new class - if you're not tired by the time bedtime comes around then you're not doing enough.