10 ways to get a better night’s sleep

Do you feel tired during the day? Do you have trouble falling asleep? Do you wake up during the night? Discover ten ways to get a better night’s sleep and reclaim your waking hours.

1. Sleep to a schedule
Your circadian rhythm is your body’s natual sleep-wake cycle. If you go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day you will feel significantly more rested than if you get the same number of hours at different times. Even changing your sleep times by an hour can leave you feeling tired or ill-rested.

2. Nap smart
Napping can be a great way to make up for lost sleep, however napping too late in the day or for too long can throw out your circadian rhythm. Nap early in the afternoon, and limit your naps to 30 minutes, no more.

3. Light your days
Melatonin is one of the chemicals which tells your body to go to sleep or stay awake. The brain secretes more when it is dark, and less in sunlight and under bright lights. Increasing your exposure to natural light during the day will help you to feel more awake, and making sure there is no light (for example the television) where you sleep will help you to rest more easily.

4. Keep your cool
Most people sleep better in a room which is slightly cool, or about 18°C. If you feel cold try wearing warmer pyjamas – this will also keep your heating bill down.

5. Reserve your bed
Your bed is not a workstation. By reserving your bed for sleeping and sex you will train your brain to automatically relax when you get under the covers. This means moving the television out of the bedroom and avoiding using your laptop in bed.

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6. Eat early
Digestion takes a lot of work, and if your body is still working when you get into bed you will have trouble sleeping. Avoid eating big meals within two hours of your bedtime. If you feel peckish try eating a banana or a small bowl of muesli and low-fat yoghurt.

7. Don’t drink
Alcohol may send you off to sleep, but as it wears off during the night the body goes into withdrawal which can cause nightmares or broken sleep.

8. Cut the caffeine
Caffeine can cause sleep problems up to 12 hours after you have ingested it. Try cutting out coffee in the afternoon, or lowering your overall intake.

9. Stress less
One of the major causes of insomnia is residual stress from the day. If you can’t shut the day out you may need help with stress management. Try some relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or visualising something peaceful, to let the day go.

10. Know when to get help
If you have tried all of the above tips and are still having trouble sleeping then you may need to see your doctor. Sleep disorders are serious, and if your doctor thinks it is necessary they will refer you to a sleep specialist. You should see your doctor if, despite your best efforts, you continue to suffer from:

  • Persistent day-time sleepiness or fatigue
  • Loud snoring accompanied by pauses in breathing
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Frequent morning headaches
  • Crawling sensations in your arms or legs at night
  • Inability to move while falling asleep or waking up
  • Physically acting out dreams during sleep
  • Falling asleep at inappropriate times


Further information
If you think your tiredness may be related to a health issue read our article on snoring and sleep apnoea to discover if your loss of concentration, poor memory, irritability or even impotence could be the result of this common, treatable condition.

Have your say
Do you have another tip for getting a good night’s sleep? Share it with our other readers in the comments below and make the world a less irritable place.

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