Sleep is important for physical and mental health. The following tips may be helpful for those trying to improve the quality of their sleep.
Develop a routine
Try to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day (including weekends). Keep your daytime routine the same as well – don’t avoid things because you haven’t slept well.
Use bed for sleep
Try to use your bed for sleeping only - that way, your body will come to associate bed with sleep.
Wind down in the hours before bed. Avoid stimulating activities (e.g. work, problem solving, planning, studying) and practice relaxing ones (e.g. take a bath, read a book, practice relaxation, drink caffeine-free tea).
Make your room dark (e.g. use face masks, close blinds, avoid devices or at least dim the screen or apply a ‘blue light filter’), quiet (e.g. use ear plugs, or listen to relaxing music or white noise such as a rain soundtracks on YouTube), and comfortable (e.g. use fans, air-conditioning, hot-water-bottles etc).
Write your worries down
3a.m. is not the time to solve problems. If you’re worrying whilst lying in bed, write your worries down and work on them tomorrow. Then, practice relaxing activities.
Don’t force it
If you haven’t fallen asleep after 20 minutes, do something relaxing until you feel sleepy.
Don’t clock watch
Don’t check the clock to see how much time you have(n’t) got left until you have wake up. This just causes stress, making sleep even less likely. Turn your alarm away from you, and put your phone out of reach.
Turn off your computer, phone and TV at bedtime. The light/brightness from the screens may interfere with the onset of sleep. Alternatively, turn the brightness of the screens down, use a ‘blue light’ filter, and watch only ‘mindless’, non-stimulating programs.
Try to exercise every day. Avoid doing it in the 4 hours before bed though as it can be over-stimulating.
Napping can interfere with your sleep routine at night. Naps over an hour long, or that are later in the day, can be particularly disruptive.
Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol
4-6 hours before bed, avoid caffeine (e.g. coffee, tea, cola drinks, chocolate, and some medications) or nicotine (e.g. cigarettes) and alcohol. These may interfere with you falling and staying asleep.
I am a Clinical Psychologist in North Sydney who treats sleep problems. Please get in contact to learn more.
* Last updated: December 2018.
* The document is for information purposes only. Please refer to the disclaimer.