Checking your Facebook last thing at night is like shining a miniature sun into your eyes

Another thing that keeps me awake is that awful sense, some nights, of ‘what’s the point of it all?’

For this, he recommends something called the Value Focus. He suggests making a mental list on the way home from work, noting three things I’ve managed to achieve that day, however small. Then another three things I should plan to do that evening when I get home.

It could be as simple as reading 20 pages of a book or phoning a relative. The vital thing is that they should be tasks that don’t correlate with work. By focusing on things of value to you, the brain relaxes, boosting levels of serotonin (the happy hormone), which is vital for getting quality sleep.

On a more practical level, there are some basic no-nos that he says we must all adhere to. Tempting as it might be some evenings, pouring yourself a bottle of Vino Collapso will do you no good whatsoever.

‘Alcohol is a sedative and a stimulant,’ says Dr Meadows. ‘So while many people use it to fall asleep as it acts on some of the brain chemicals responsible for helping us sleep, unfortunately it is also metabolised so quickly that it can leave the body craving more.

‘When we drink alcohol close to bedtime, we are more likely to wake up in the early hours, leaving us less than refreshed and unable to cope in the daytime.’
As a rule of thumb, it takes an hour to process one unit of alcohol, so if you have a glass of wine at 7pm, you’ll be fine by 10pm. Ideally, you should avoid going to bed with unmetabolised alcohol in your body.

Also, smartphones and tablet devices might be great for browsing in front of the telly, but they’re lousy preparation for bed. LCD screens emit ‘blue light’, which is the same sort of light as sunlight, thus playing havoc with our sleep hormones.

‘Checking your Facebook last thing at night is like shining a miniature sun into your eyes,’ says Meadows.

‘Our body clock gets confused and starts thinking it’s daytime again. Your body starts inhibiting the sleep hormone melatonin and starts releasing the waking hormone, cortisol.’
Yet I have to admit my first evening after meeting Dr Meadows was a bit of a shocker. I’d been in a flap preparing to interview him, so was feeling edgy.

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