How to sleep better
It may sound obvious but it’s worth reminding yourself regularly that your mind and body will feel better if you sleep well. Sleep is as important to our health as eating, drinking and breathing. It allows our bodies to repair themselves and our brains to consolidate our memories and process information.
Many of us will have experienced sleep disruption at stressful times in our lives, such as exam periods. A lack of sleep will affect your concentration and may make you feel physically unwell, stressed or anxious.
Tips for how to sleep better
If you often have trouble sleeping – either falling asleep or waking during the night and being unable to get back to sleep – try one or several of the following ideas:
Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning. Avoid “sleeping in” (i.e. sleeping much later than your usual time for getting up) as it is likely to make you feel worse.
Establish a bedtime routine by doing the same things every night for an hour or two before bedtime so your body knows when it is time to go to sleep.
Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.
Avoid napping during the day – it will throw your body clock off.
Try not to watch the clock – if you’re unsuccessful getting to sleep within 20 or 30 minutes, get up, leave the bedroom and then return in a bit.
Avoid problem-solving as your mind will be too active to sleep. Try planning time before bed or early the next day to think problems through.
Avoid watching TV, playing computer games, looking at your phone or tablet, listening to loud music an hour before you go to bed.
Try to preserve your bed as a place for rest and sex only. If you use your bed as your study space, your mind may associate it with studying rather than sleeping.
Avoid a heavy meal prior to going to bed and don’t skip any meals.
Exercise regularly, but avoid anything too strenuous before going to bed.
Play soothing, relaxing music or an audio story book on a tape or CD that shuts off automatically after a set period of time.
Have a glass of (warm) milk before bedtime to make you feel drowsy.
Take a warm bath or shower before going to bed.
Place a drop of lavender oil on your pillow.
Drink a cup of herbal chamomile tea before going to bed.
Tips for better sleep
Discover your sleep score with Sleepio self-assessment.
The Mental Health Foundation has produced a report on various sleep difficulties and ways in which we can all improve the quality of our sleep.
For more tips try cygnethealth.