How to sleep well

Dr Chris Idzikowski, Director of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, tells how you can beat those bad nights

Eat early The rule is - carbs make us sleepier, so are good for the evening, while protein keeps us alert, so it should be eaten in the morning. Scientific evidence of this is small, but do avoid a large meal late at night as the digestion process produces heat, which makes wakefulness more likely.

Buy the biggest bed The larger the bed the better, as it gives you and your partner more room to move about – either to get to cooler parts of the bed, or to escape a person who tends to toss and turn.

Keep cool The brain tries to reduce body temperature during the night to slow metabolism, but if a room is too hot for this, the brain wakes us up to rectify it. As the body temperature of a partner varies, you may need two duvets with different tog values. Heat is lost when blood vessels in the hands, feet and face open up, so if you suffer from cold hands and feet, massage and reflexology may help. If you have cold toes, don’t use bed socks (heat can’t escape once you’re warm) but a hot water bottle is good as it can be kicked away when your feet are warm.

Picture this If you have difficult falling asleep (sleep onset insomnia) try high intensity visualisation, which is a form of counting sheep. Picture something pleasant but not alerting and really look at what you are visualising; go behind, around and get up close to the object. Concentrating blocks out random thoughts that otherwise pop into your mind and keep you awake.

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