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Top 10 tips to consider when you want a good night’s sleep

  1. Establish a relaxing bedtime ritual or schedule. This helps to regulate your body's clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night. A relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime away from bright lights helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety.

  2. If you have trouble getting to sleep, avoid afternoon naps. Power napping may help you get through the day, but if you find that you cannot fall asleep at bedtime, eliminating even short catnaps may help.

  3. Exercise daily. Even light exercise is better than no activity. Exercise at any time of day, but not at the expense of your sleep.

  4. Evaluate your room. Design your sleep environment to control the optimum conditions you need for sleep. Your bedroom should be cool (between 15 to 18 degrees C.) Your bedroom should also be free from any noise that can disturb your sleep. Check your room for noises or other distractions, even including a partner’s sleep disruptions such as snoring. Many people find that the bedroom should be free from surplus light coming through the window. Consider using blackout curtains, eyeshades, earplugs, ‘white noise’ machines, humidifiers or a fan.

  5. Sleep on a comfortable, supportive mattress and pillows. The one you may have been using for years will have exceeded its life expectancy – about 9 or 10 years for most good quality mattresses. Have comfortable pillows and make the room attractive and inviting for sleep.

  6. Control your lighting to manage your ‘circadian rhythms’. Avoid bright light in the evening and expose yourself to sunlight in the morning. This will keep your circadian rhythms in check.

  7. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, and heavy meals in the evening. Eating big or spicy meals can cause discomfort from indigestion that can make it hard to sleep. If you can, avoid eating large meals for two to three hours before bedtime. Try a light snack 45 minutes before bed if you are still hungry.

  8. Wind down. Your body needs time to shift into sleep mode. So spend the last hour before bed doing a calming activity such as reading, listening to music or even some light TV. Using an electronic device such as a tablet/laptop can make it hard to fall asleep since the type of light emitted from the screen can activate the brain. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid electronics devices in bed or in the middle of the night.

  9. If you cannot sleep, go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired. It is best to take work materials, computers, and televisions out of the sleeping environment. Use your bed only for sleep and sex to strengthen the association between bed and sleep. If you associate a particular activity or item with anxiety about sleeping, omit it from your bedtime routine.

  10. If you are still having trouble sleeping, don’t hesitate to speak with your doctor or find a ‘sleep professional’. You may also benefit from recording notes and thoughts in your sleep in a ‘sleep diary’ to help you evaluate common patterns or issues. Consider listening to an audio recording when you go to bed, ready to fall asleep. They can make an incredible difference.

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