If you’re having problems – whether it’s difficulties with getting off to sleep, waking frequently through the night, or waking up too early – first of all, you’re not alone. Insomnia is thought to affect around two billion people, according to research from WSS.
As well as leaving you tired during the day, sleeping badly can have an effect on your mood and quality of life, and impinge on your attention span, ability to learn, and memory. In the long term, it can negatively impact how you function, as well as your mental health. It can even contribute to physical health problems such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Everyone is different – but if World Sleep Day has inspired you to improve things, trying these 10 practical tips might help.
Try to go to bed and get up at the same time – even at the weekends! Having a routine is good. Avoid sleeping in the daytime, or just stick to a short nap.
Don’t work or watch TV in bed, so your mind comes to associate your bed only with sleeping.
Avoid stimulants after 3 pm – including caffeinated drinks such as energy drinks, tea, coffee, cola, and also nicotine. Be aware that alcohol can affect the quality of your sleep.
Keep a notebook by your bed, so if you wake up worrying or suddenly remembering something you can write it down and (hopefully) go back to sleep.
Make sure you’re not too full or too hungry when you go to bed.
Doing exercise and keeping active throughout the day can help you to sleep, but don’t exercise too close to bedtime.
Turn off the TV, tablet, or phone an hour before bedtime – these are stimulating activities that can keep your brain whirring! Swap them for relaxing ones such as having a bath or listening to calming music.
If you haven’t dropped off after 30 minutes then get up, do something else relaxing until you feel sleepy, then try going back to bed.
Try not to look at the time during the night, as this will make you more anxious.
Don’t fixate on the number of hours you get. Contrary to popular belief, there isn’t a ‘normal’ amount of sleep that we all need – it varies from person to person. According to the WSS, the quality of sleep we get is probably more important than the length.
Above all, try not to obsess over not being able to sleep; if you become too focused on the problem it can end up overshadowing other things in your life and even becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.