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10 tips for healthy sleep

3-minute read

If you are not sleeping well - or long enough - at night, try the tips below to improve the quality of your sleep and to ensure you are properly rested the following day.

1. Regular sleep patterns

Help your body to establish a healthy sleep routine by going to bed and waking up around the same time each day.

2. Spend the right amount of time in bed

While 8 hours of sleep is recommended, some people require more and some require less. Try to limit your time in bed to no more than 8.5 hours. So if it takes you a long time to fall asleep, try going to bed later.

3. Bed is for sleep, not screens

Computers, phones and TV can disrupt your sleep. Your mind needs to associate being in bed with sleeping rather than watching TV or using your computer. Don’t stay in bed if you’re wide awake.

4. Relax before bed

Find a relaxation technique that works for you. Try to establish a buffer zone before bedtime where you’re not trying to solve any problems or thinking about tomorrow, but just relaxing and preparing for bed. Try to avoid using your computer and smartphone during the bedtime buffer zone.

5. Ensure you are comfortable in your bedroom

Your room should be the right temperature, as well as quiet and dark. Make sure you have comfortable bedding, and try to keep known stressors out of your bedroom.

6. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes

These substances have far reaching impacts on your physical and mental health, with disrupted sleep being just one. While alcohol might make you sleepy initially, it tends to disrupt your sleep cycle, leading to poorer quality sleep. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that can also prevent you from sleeping.

7. Don’t nap

Unfortunately, sleeping during the day will make it more difficult to nod off at night time. If a nap is really necessary, try and limit the duration to half an hour and make sure you’re up for at least 4 hours before going back to bed.

8. Try not to clock watch

If you can’t sleep, checking the time heightens your anxiety about not sleeping. If possible take the clock out of your room.

9. Try to avoid sleeping tablets

Sleeping pills don’t address the cause of your insomnia and won’t help you long term. Sleeping pills should only be prescribed by a trusted doctor who fully understands the reasons why you might be struggling to get good quality sleep. Your doctor must also keep a close eye on the use of sleeping pills while they are being taken as they are addictive.

10. Ask for help if you need it

If you regularly wake up feeling unrefreshed, are always restless in bed, have trouble getting to sleep or find that being tired is affecting your mood, it might be time to go and see your doctor.

Last reviewed: July 2017

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