This article has been medically approved by Pharmacist Sumaiya Patel - GPhC Reg No: 2215078
Sleep is important to ensure your body and mind are working as well as possible. Healthy adults need 8 hours of sleep per night. If you find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, it can have a significant impact on your life, but simple lifestyle changes can make the world of difference.
1. Keep regular sleep hours
Making sure that you go to bed at roughly the same time each night will help programme your body to get tired at bedtime, helping you to sleep better.
Healthy adults need 8 hours sleep every night. So, by working out what time you need to wake up, you know what time you need to go to sleep.
Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. It may seem like a good idea to try to catch up on lost sleep from previous nights but doing so regularly can disrupt your routine.
2. Create a restful sleeping environment
Your bedroom should be a place to sleep, as itís believed thereís a strong association in peopleís mind between sleep and the bedroom. TVs and other electronic gadgets, as well as doing activities in the bed like eating or working, weaken that association.
As well as this, temperature, lighting, and noise are all important factors that impact your ability to fall and stay asleep.
Try blackout curtains or blinds, different weight quilts for different seasons, and earbuds if loud noises wake you frequently. Your room should be kept between 18įc and 24įc.
If you have a pet that sleeps in bed with you, causing you to wake up, consider moving them to sleep somewhere else.
3. Wind down before bed
Winding down before bed is a critical stage in setting yourself up for a good nightís sleep. You could try:
- Leave at least 3 hours after eating before going to bed
- A warm (not hot) bath
- Writing a to-do list for tomorrow to organise your thoughts
- Relaxation exercises like light yoga stretches can help to relax tense muscles
- Relaxation audio tracks can use a narrated script, gentle hypnotic music, and sound effects that help you to relax and sleep
- Read a book or listen to the radio or a podcast
- Try out apps designed to help you sleep (it might take some trial and error)
Melatonin is a hormone that occurs naturally in the body. It is responsible for controlling your sleep patterns. You can take manmade melatonin to help you to fall asleep more quickly and make you less likely to wake up during the night.
Typically, Melatonin is used for short term sleep problems, and some people use it to Ďtrainí their body to fall asleep at a certain time. For example, it can be used to help with the symptoms of jet lag.
For most adults, the usual dose is 1 2mg tablet taken 1 to 2 hours before bedtime.
5. If you canít sleep, get up
In point 2 we discussed the importance of associating the bedroom with sleep. To further support that association if you go to bed and canít fall asleep, or wake up and canít drift back off, wait for around 20 minutes and then get up. Try to do something you find relaxing and wait until you feel sleepy again.
If you spend too much time awake in bed, even if youíre trying to fall back to sleep, you may be weakening that association with sleep.