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Sleep Tips

25 ways to get better sleep


1. Keep regular sleep hours – try going to bed and waking up at around the same time each day. Keep a sleep diary, befriend alarm clocks, and use an app to track your sleep/wake times and to notify you when it’s bedtime. Try to do this over the weekend too, or when you’re off work – it is tempting to go to bed later and have lie-ins to make up for lost sleep but this can throw the body’s sleep pattern out of sync.

2. Keep it cool – the body’s temperature drops when ready to sleep, keep your bedroom cool to help yourself feel sleepy and to provide a comfortable sleep temperature.

3. Keep it quiet – noise can disrupt sleep quality, even if the sounds do not fully wake you, so limit external noises and disruptions, and invest in some good quality ear plugs.

4. Keep it dark – even the smallest amount of light can disrupt sleep so keep it dark, get an eye mask to block out all the light, and make sure even small lights from devices are out of sight.

5. Limit light exposure in the evenings – artificial light contains blue light frequencies which disrupt the body’s ability to sleep, limit exposure to bright light and electronic devices in the evenings. Most mobile phone and computer screens now have the option to switch to night mode which adds a coloured filter to limit the blue light emissions. Consider asking your optician about glasses that filter blue light.

6. Caffeine – coffee, tea & hot chocolate all contain caffeine, which keeps us awake. Caffeine stays in the body for hours, so limit caffeine use after 5pm, and consider switching to decaf if you are consuming more than 2 or 3 cups of coffee/tea a day and unable to sleep at night.

7. Alcohol – alcohol negatively affects sleep quality, try to limit alcohol use if you are sleep deprived so that your body can get a natural sleep. See your GP if you are relying on alcohol to get to sleep, and consider other relaxation methods.

8. Diet – Try to eat meals at regular times and at least a few hours before bed so that the body has time to digest, don’t over-eat or go to bed hungry.  Keeping consistent meal and snack times can help regulate the body’s rhythms, including sleep.

9. Exercise – regular exercise during the day can help release feel-good hormones, and it tires the body to encourage deep sleep. Swimming is particularly good because it is a low impact relaxing form of exercise which uses all the body’s muscles. Don’t exercise late at night or it may delay sleep onset.

10. Keep clocks out of sight – having a visible clock in the bedroom can encourage regular time checking when trying to drift off, which can exacerbate any anxiety around being unable to get to sleep. This takes your focus away from naturally falling asleep so invest in alarm clocks without the visible clock face, and resist checking the time if possible.  Try an alarm clock that does more than just beep – some alarms can wake you with music, light, and can be set to go off at optimum times in your sleep cycle.

11. Get up – If you are lying there unable to sleep for more than 15 minutes or so, then get up. Do something which doesn’t require much attention until feeling sleepy again, then get back into bed and try again.

12. Comfort – make your sleep environment a comfortable, relaxing place to be. Keep it clean, cool and clutter-free, and invest in a comfortable mattress.

13. Electronic Devices – Keep all electronic devices out of the bedroom if you are struggling to sleep. Keep your phone out of the room. Keep all electronic temptations out of the bedroom, or you may find that one last check of your social media turns into another half hour of being awake, or you stay awake to binge on the next episode of the series you’re watching.

14. Bed is for sleep – (or sex). Keep all other activities out of the bedroom. And anything relating to work or study does not (generally) belong in the bedroom. If you sleep in a multi-functional living space, consider ways to segregate areas for specific purposes, keeping anything relating to work/study out of sight for when it’s time to prepare to sleep. Keep all potential stressors away from the bed area. Train your brain to associate the bed with sleep and relaxation, it will help you automatically doze off.

15. Worries & Stress – is anything bugging you or occupying your thoughts, preventing you from switching off? Write them down. Get a notebook for these worries and keep it by the bed. Your brain will learn to put them to one side for the following day. Holding onto stress and tension? Try some mindfulness meditation, and focus on your breathing.  Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth, focusing on breathing deep into the stomach and out again for counts of at least 5 seconds in, 5 seconds out.

16. Winding down – try to incorporate a wind-down routine for the hour before bedtime. Focus on relaxation and comfort. Try some meditation, have a bath, read a book, write down your worries, get into comfy pyjamas – whatever works for you.

17. Have a bath – having a bath or hot shower can be a good way of encouraging sleepiness – try do this at least an hour before wanting to sleep. A bath raises the body temperature and it is the sudden drop in temperature afterwards which encourages sleepiness.

18. Herbal remedies – lavender is renowned for its properties that encourage sleep and relaxation, the scent can be found in many sleep aids, such as roll-ons, and having the scent on a tissue under the pillow can be helpful.

19. Know yourself – are you naturally a night owl or a morning lark? Do you usually feel better after 6 hours sleep, or 10? Are you easily disrupted by noise, or does nothing wake you up once you drift off? Do you snore? Knowing your sleep-life can help you navigate and understand any sleep disruptions. Keep a sleep diary, try to get the right amount of sleep for you, and maintain good sleep hygiene practices.

20. It’s okay to rest – it’s okay not to be keeping busy 100% of the time. Rest is important for us to recharge so that we are energised and able to keep busy. Not getting enough adequate sleep can contribute to burnout and all sorts of mental health and physical health issues. Learning to love sleep can help.

21. Wake up – getting up at the same time each day can keep the body in a regular sleep pattern. Even if you go to bed late, try to wake at around the same time you usually would. Get a decent alarm clock and consider one of the daylight lamp alarm clocks.

22. Daylight – during the day, make sure you are getting enough light exposure from natural sunlight, to encourage the body’s production of Vitamin D and to regulate melatonin and circadian rhythms for sleep. It is this increase in melatonin during darkness at night-time that triggers sleep. It can be difficult to get enough light exposure during the day, particularly in the winter months, or if you work night-time hours, or in a poorly-lit environment. Consider trying a daylight lamp in the mornings, and get yourself outside in the daylight when you can (even when it’s a grey day). This will help your body know when it should be awake, when it should be sleeping, and can help boost mood when living with any tiredness or sleep deprivation.

23. Take a nap – sometimes it’s just necessary. Try to not nap for more than 30 mins, or you will go into a deep sleep, and don’t rely on naps for getting adequate sleep or to continuously compensate for poor sleep at night. We naturally experience a dip in energy levels during mid-afternoon, this is an ideal time to take a nap. Try not to nap after 4pm.

24. Don’t panic – it’s normal to have the occasional sleepless night, or to sometimes feel unable to sleep. But if you are feeling that your sleep issues are having an impact on your wellbeing then you do not have to suffer alone. Support is available from your GP, and try out some of these resources.

25. CBT-i & CounsellingCBT for insomnia has been shown to be very helpful for people living with sleep problems. If you are experiencing any stress or worries that may be contributing to poor sleep, counselling can help. Check out the support we offer at the Sleep Support Project.


Sometimes, not all sleep issues can be managed with sleep hygiene alone, such as with jet lag as a result of travelling, working irregular shift patterns and night shifts, or when living with a sleep disorder.  See your GP if you are concerned about how your sleep may be impacting on your wellbeing.