Have trouble sleeping? Sleep is vital for our health and wellbeing, and not getting enough of it can make you function less and lead to long-term health problems.

The Sleep Council have created The Good Night Guide, which contains 7 Practical Steps to a good night’s sleep – to make you sleep good and feel good!

  1. Your bedroom
  2. Your lifestyle
  3. Stress & Worry
  4. Diet
  5. Exercise
  6. Relaxation
  7. Hormonal Balance

Your Bedroom

One of the first things check if your aiming for a better night’s sleep is your bedroom.

  • Keep your room as dark as possible, using blackout curtains or an eye mask if necessary.
  • Keep clutter out of your room and avoid having a television or computer in the bedroom, as well as turning off mobile phones or devises.
  • Avoid bright colours if possible and use muted and pastel colours, which are more calming.
  • Sprinkle some pot pourri with oils of lavender or geranium, as these smells can make you feel more relaxed and calm. Though never use during pregnancy or in children’s rooms.

Your Lifestyle

Nowadays lifestyles are full of stimulation and fast paced, so it’s no wonder that many of us have trouble sleeping!

Some Tips:

  • Have a bedtime routine and maintain a regular sleeping pattern
  • Avoid napping during the day
  • Use a hot water bottle if your feet get cold
  • Use the toilet before bed
  • Avoid use of technology a few hours before bedtime

Stress & Worry

There is a direct link between anxiety and sleep.  When someone worries about something when they’re trying to sleep, their brains are too aroused to sleep. As it becomes a pattern, it is even harder to sleep and becomes a thing of anxiety.

  • Place your hand on your heart so you can hear it beating. Breathe deeply and slowly for 3 or 4 seconds. Repeat this until you feel your heart rate slowing down.
  • Speak positive thoughts. Speaking overrides thinking and will stop negative thoughts.

Diet

Nutrition can effect the brain chemistry that promotes good sleep.

  • Maintain a well balanced diet
  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and cigarettes
  • Avoid sedatives and alcohol to help you sleep as the effects are usually short term. If you are taking sleep medications, do not stop taking them suddenly. Speak to your doctor to slowly wean yourself off them

Exercise

Exercise in general can help you have a better quality sleep. It can also lower your body temperature, which induces better sleep.

  • Don’t overdo it! Sometimes it can be counter-productive and lead to alertness when trying to sleep
  • Although it’s believed that exercising in the evening can disturb sleep, there isn’t evidence that backs this. So if it’s more convenient, exercise in the evening than none at all!

Relaxation and other therapies

Relax Your Body – This can be done in bed and works by relaxing separate groups of muscles.

  • Tense a muscle by contracting and flexing for 7-10 seconds, but don’t strain yourself!
  • Release each muscle brusquely, then relax before moving onto the next muscle.

Hormonal Balance

One reason that you are not sleeping well could be due to hormonal imbalance. Hormonal levels change as you get older, which can cause disturbance in your sleep, and vice-versa, which can turn into a vicious cycle.

  • If you are menopausal or premenopausal, get your hormones checked out by your GP.
  • A stressful lifestyle can keep cortisol levels high which can cause sleep disturbance.