Published on: 19 March 2021
Today is World Sleep Day and to mark it our Occupational Health Mental Health Advisor, Helen Jones, would like to share with you TEN TOP TIPS to help you achieve a good night’s sleep:
Keep regular sleep hours. Going to bed when you feel tired and getting up at roughly the same time each day helps teach your body to sleep better. Try to avoid day time naps of more than 10 minutes.
Make sure your bed provides the correct support, comfort and space to ensure you wake up and move about less. If your pillows are uncomfortable, change them. Make sure that your bedroom is as dark as possible when you go to bed as this will signal to your brain that it is time to sleep. Ensure that your room is the right temperature so that you are not too hot or too cold. Try to keep your bedroom tidy as clutter can create stress. Calming scents can also help so try using a diffuser for essential oils such as lavender, camomile or bergamot and set it up in your bedroom to start 30 mins before going to bed.
3. Avoid Technology
Ban your smart phone, computer and TV from your bedroom, and avoid looking at them for an hour before bed. This kind of device emits a blue light, which suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin.
4. DO NOT CLOCK WATCH!
If you wake up in the night, do not keep checking the clock as this will increase stress. If you find yourself awake for more than 20 minutes, get up and go and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy. Avoid having a cigarette or any caffeine as these are both stimulants. If you still have trouble falling asleep, try one of the apps available to NHS staff for free ie. Headspace or Sleepio.
5. Physical Exercise
This is great for sleep, as well as for your health generally. It is especially good for using up adrenaline which can lead to an overactive mind at bedtime. However some people find that if they do vigorous exercise less than two hours before bedtime, it can make it harder to get to sleep. If you don't find this a problem, then there's probably no need to change.
People spend a lot of time and effort exercising and making sure they eat healthily – which is great – but they forget sleeping, which is the third side of the triangle.
6. Try to relax before going to bed
Have a warm bath, listen to quiet music, mediate or do some gentle yoga to relax your mind and body. Try a relaxation technique such as progressive muscular relaxation or guided imagery. The Headspace app has some excellent adult bedtime stories.
7. Write away your worries
Worry is often the reason why people struggle to get to sleep, so if you tend to lie in bed thinking about everything you have to do tomorrow. Keep a notebook and pen by the bed and write down any worries or ‘things to do’. You can also do this in your head by imagining you are putting your worries in a box and putting a lid on it until the next day
Although it can make you feel tired and can help you get to sleep, alcohol often impairs the quality of your sleep and makes you more likely to wake up during the night as the effects wear off, and you may need to go to the toilet frequently or wake up dehydrated to drink water.
9. Keeping a Sleep Diary
Keeping a sleep diary to make a note of what the conditions were when you went to bed the night before can be useful for letting you look back and see what has and what hasn’t worked for you. It also helps you to see how your sleep varies from night to night, and might help you note patterns in your sleeping. You can also use Smart Watches to log your sleep pattern.
10. If you still can’t sleep….
Speak to a friend your Health Professional. Sleep problems are common and they may have a tip not on this list. You could also consider asking for a referral for Talking Therapy as this can help you to get to the bottom of why you are not sleeping well.
Find out more:
Sleep Problems | Every Mind Matters | One You (www.nhs.uk)