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8 top tips for a better night’s sleep

Struggling to get a good night’s sleep? Making simple changes could have a huge impact on the quality of your sleep. Check out these eight top tips:

Try to keep a regular sleeping schedule

Wherever possible, aim to go to bed and get up at the same time every day (even on your weekends or days off).The consistency will help to programme your internal body clock and get it used to a routine. Also, avoid napping during the day wherever you can.

Establish a relaxing bedtime routine

Take some time out to wind down before you go to bed. Activities, like reading or taking a warm bath, can help you separate your sleep-time from what’s been going on in your everyday life. This will help you relax and drift off easier into a deeper sleep.

Optimise your sleeping environment

Ensure your bedroom is the perfect place to get a good night’s sleep! Firstly, make sure your room isn’t too hot or too cold – you should aim for it to be between 18-21 degrees Celsius. The room should be free from any noise that can disturb your sleep – if this is not possible consider purchasing some earplugs to block out any potentially disruptive sounds. Finally, your room should also be free from light – blackout curtains or eye masks may be able to help if your room is too light.

According to the Sleep Council, you should be getting yourself a new mattress every seven years. That means you’ll be spending around 20,000 hours lying on it – so it’s well worth making sure you buy one that suits you. Research indicates that sleeping in a bad bed is the equivalent of getting an hour’s less sleep every night.

Minimise stress and worry before you sleep

Feeling worried or stressed can often be a key reason for getting a bad night’s sleep. If you find yourself lying in bed thinking about all the things you need to do, try writing down a ‘to-do’ list of things that you intend to tackle the next day. Relaxation techniques such as meditation can also help you feel calm before you settle down for sleep.

Get rid of the distractions

Try to ensure that your bedroom is associated in your mind with sleep. Avoid watching TV or working on your computer in bed right before you go to sleep. Trying to fall asleep with the radio or TV on may have the adverse effect of making your mind more alert and wake you up later in the night.

Avoid stimulants like alcohol, caffeine or nicotine close to bedtime

The effects of stimulants can take hours to wear off and can have a big impact on how quickly you fall to sleep and the quality of it when you do. Alcohol may make you feel sleepy, but it can disrupt your sleep later in the night and won’t allow you to fall into the deep sleep that you need.

Avoid eating big meals or sugary snacks before bed

If you have a big meal right before you go to bed it can take your body a while to digest it, meaning it may be difficult to get to sleep. A general rule to follow is to finish eating at least 2-3 hours before you intend to go to bed, particularly if you are eating heavy or sugary foods which may keep you awake longer.

Exercise regularly

Regular exercise can help you fall to sleep quicker and enjoy a deeper sleep. Try not to exercise too close to bedtime though, the burst of energy you get through working out may keep you wide awake. Try to finish at least 3 hours before you go to bed.

Useful links:

http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-tools-tips/healthy-sleep-tips

http://www.sleepcouncil.org.uk/how-to-sleep/

http://www.sleepcouncil.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Get-a-Good-Nights-Sleep.pdf

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/sleep/Pages/sleep-home.aspx

 

This article has been brought to you using public health information freely available online (click on links in the article for more information). Benenden has not provided any direct medical advice within this article. Please consult the sources provided if you would like further information or support.