Sleep is vital. We spend more time sleeping than any other activity we do. So good sleep is essential to our wellbeing.
It is as important as eating, drinking, and breathing.
Not having enough sleep can affect mood, energy and concentration levels, productivity at work, relationships, and our ability to function during the day.
So to help, here are some simple steps you can take to ease those restless nights.
Keep regular sleep hours
It seems obvious but going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time helps teach your body to sleep better. Also, try to avoid napping where possible.
Of course, you probably know this. Yet you may be there late at night, stubbornly refusing to go to sleep and scrolling once more through social media or watching one more episode of TV.
However, it is best to prioritise your sleep. So, figure out when the best time is for you to go to bed and wake up, then stick to it. Build a routine – it will make you feel better in the long run.
Don’t just jump into bed
You need to wind down at the end of the day. If you close the laptop and jump into bed, you are probably just going to get annoyed that you can’t get to sleep.
Reading a book or listening to calming music helps to prepare for bed by winding down. The NHS suggests trying out a sleep app called Pzizz which is designed for people with “racing minds” who are “thinking too much.” It can be used to help calm your mind and fall asleep fast.
Get your bedroom ready
Make your bedroom welcoming, a den of loveliness and softness.
Make your room darker. Remove anything that overstimulates you or makes you think, “I don’t like that.” Take it out of your room – only have things that make you feel good about yourself.
Write down your worries
Often when you try to sleep, you’ll have lots of things still on your mind.
If you are thinking about loose ends, one trick is to write them down. Set some time aside before bed and make a list for the next day. This helps to put those thoughts to rest so you can think about them tomorrow instead.
Lessen the caffeine and alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol can stop you from falling asleep and prevent deep sleep. So cut down on it.
Yes, this sounds like we are asking to stop doing fun things, but you don’t have to stop entirely with caffeine and alcohol. Start by cutting down on your alcohol and avoid caffeine close to bedtime and see how sleep improves.
Put your phone away
It can be tricky but try not to use your phone an hour before bed. Put your phone somewhere else and charge it in another room so those constant notifications can’t distract you or stimulate worry.
Putting your phone away allows your brain to get into rest mode.
Lying in bed awake?
Don’t force it. Get up for a few minutes, do something relaxing for a bit. Like read a book, or listening to soft music.
Return to bed when you feel sleepier.
The more you move, the better the sleep.
Being active can help you sleep better. Though, too much activity can also keep you awake. Try to avoid vigorous activity near bedtime.
You don’t need to leave your home to work in some exercise into your day. Find a workout routine that works for you. If you are not sure where to start, try this 10-minute cardio workout you can do at home.
What to do if you have long term sleep problems
Sleep problems are common, and these tips should help. But if they don’t help or you have had trouble sleeping for months in a way that affects your daily life then you can seek further support.
Start by checking these NHS links. The self-assessment will help you to see if you need further support.