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Many of us will experience nights where we don’t get as much sleep as we’d like. From waking in the night to care for new babies to worrying about important business meetings, there are numerous factors that can impact our ability to get good quality and consistent sleep.

If your struggle to fall and stay asleep is becoming more and more frequent, and is having a damaging effect on your health and wellbeing, this may suggest that you have a sleep disorder.

Maartje Suijskens, a healthcare psychologist at Priory Wellbeing Centre Dubai, has looked at the healthy sleep habits you can adopt. She has also outlined the support and treatment that is available to help you get a good night’s sleep.

Healthy sleep habits

While having good quality sleep can feel impossible if you’ve had numerous nights of disturbed rest, there are healthy sleep habits you can follow that can make a real difference.

Establish a routine

Stick to a sleep schedule, where you go to bed and wake up at the same time, even at weekends, as this can help to regulate your body clock.

Relax before going to bed (tech-free time)

Add in a relaxing activity before you head to bed, such as reading by lamplight, having a bath, listening to soft music or winding down with your favourite tech-free hobby. This can help you to avoid excitement, stress and anxiety, which can make sleeping more difficult.

Make sure your sleep environment is comfortable

Your room should be cool and free from any noise or light that could distract you when you are asleep. Also make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable and supportive.

Think carefully about what you eat and drink

Avoid eating big meals at night, as this can cause stomach trouble and heartburn that may disrupt your sleep. Sugary foods and refined carbs can also trigger wakefulness, and keep you from deep, restorative sleep.

Meanwhile, don’t drink too much of anything before bed so you don’t get disturbed during the night. It is important to note that caffeine can interrupt sleep ten to twelve hours after drinking it.

Exercise on a regular basis

Exercise can reduce stress and tire you out, helping to promote sleep. While vigorous exercise is best, light exercise is still worthwhile. Make sure you do any moderate to vigorous exercise at least three hours before bedtime. Doing so any closer to your bedtime could interfere with your sleep.

Try to resolve stress and worries before you go to bed

Press pause on your worries by practicing mindfulness. This is where you observe your stresses, let them go and focus on the present. While this can take practice, it can be a great way to leave your worries behind.

You may also want to talk about your daily concerns with someone you trust. Alternatively, you can write down your stresses and worries before bedtime, putting actions next to them that you can complete in the coming days.

Keep a sleep diary

A sleep diary allows you to keep track of the hours and quality of your sleep, and any factors that may have affected you during the night. By writing this down, you can start to recognise any patterns that you should or shouldn’t continue in order to get a good night’s sleep.

Check for physical causes

There are a variety of medical illnesses that can disturb your sleep, including heartburn, diabetes, arthritis and lower back pain. Medications for some illnesses can also lead to problems with sleep. It is important to talk to your doctor, so that they can review your health and source any underlying conditions that could be affecting your sleep.

Specialist treatment for sleep disorders

At Priory Wellbeing Centre Dubai, our clinicians are here to help you achieve regular and plentiful sleep. Our team will be able to put together a personalised treatment programme for you, which addresses your sleep challenges so that you can achieve the very best outcomes.

Our highly qualified specialists can teach you simple behaviour and lifestyle changes, and support you during cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), where you tackle any underlying issues that may be causing you problems with your sleep.

If you’d like to find out more about the treatment programmes that we can provide, you can make an enquiry online. To speak to someone in person, you can also receive a free telephone consultation by ringing (+971) 4 245 3800.

Maartje Suijskens is a Dutch-trained registered Healthcare Psychologist and Clinical child, family and special education professional. She has 6 years of experience in psychological and educational assessment and therapy. Maartje qualifications include: Post Master of Science at Rino Zuid, Institute of Post Master Mental healthcare education, The Netherlands; Maartje also gained a Master of Educational Sciences (MSc) and a Bachelor of Pedagogical Science (BSc) from Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands

At the Priory Wellbeing Centre, Maartje provides psychological counselling/therapy, in both English and Dutch, for children, adolescents, adults and the families of those with emotional and behavioural difficulties and mental health problems, including: anxiety and panic disorders, phobias and OCD; stress related disorders; depression; single trauma; emotional and social problems such as lack of self-esteem and self-worth; young people mental health support/therapy; family-related problems; parenting difficulties.