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Getting a good night's sleep

Posted on 19 March 2021


Today is World Sleep Day! We all know how important sleep is for our mental and physical wellbeing, but many of us struggle to get our eight hours a night.

Whether you struggle to fall asleep or keep waking up, try these 10 tips for a restful night’s sleep.

1. Keep screens out of the bedroom

This is for two reasons:

  • First, because exposure to blue light from electronic screens directly affects melatonin, the hormone known to induce sleep. Blasts of blue light from looking at your phone or tablet in bed will fool your brain into thinking it’s still daylight, thus disrupting your sleep pattern.
  • Second, keeping your device outside the bedroom means you aren’t tempted to stay up late checking the news, social media, YouTube etc.

2. Set a routine

Keeping a regular schedule for bedtime and wake time has been shown to help stabilise sleep patterns. Establishing healthy habits in the hours before bed will help your body recognise that it’s time to shut down for the night.

3. Be physically tired when you get into bed

Taking exercise is a great idea for mental and physical health, but also tires you out so it’s easier to get to sleep. Medium-intensity exercise such as swimming or yoga will help you destress after a long day. A word of caution: intense exercise like running or a HIIT session too close to bedtime may have the opposite effect.

4. Think before you drink

Tea, coffee and energy drinks all contain caffeine, whilst fizzy drinks can contain large amounts of sugar. Both interfere with the process of falling asleep, and also prevent deep sleep. In the hours before bed, switch to water, herbal tea or warm milky drinks.

5. Have a lukewarm bath or shower before bed

This will reset your body temperature so it’s ready for sleep. If you like, try using bath products with relaxing fragrances like lavender or camomile.

6. Relax your mind

Instead of checking your phone, read a book in bed to wind down. If you like to have background noise to help you drift off, try listening to a radio programme, podcast or audiobook. But don’t choose anything too exciting where you must stay awake to find out what happens next!

7. Don’t eat too late

Eating a heavy meal late in the evening can make you uncomfortable and prevent a good night’s sleep. Likewise, alcohol may help you fall asleep initially but will give you poor quality sleep later that night.

8. Have a good environment for sleep

The NHS recommends that your bedroom ideally needs to be dark, quiet, tidy and be kept at a temperature of between 18°C and 24°C. Consider if there are changes you can make to your bedroom to achieve this. Thicker curtains? Double glazing? Earplugs? A fan?

It’s also worth reviewing your bed, mattress, pillows etc. Are they old and uncomfortable? If so, it might be time to invest in some new ones that give you the right support.

9. Wind down with a meditation

We have an article here about getting started with mindfulness, which can be very helpful if worries are keeping you up at night. There are plenty of apps out there with guided mindfulness meditations, but even something as simple as deep breathing or counting backwards from 300 can be effective.

10. Unexpected guests

Sharing a bedroom with pets might disrupt your sleep. If you’re constantly being woken up by your pet, consider moving it to its own bed in a different room.

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