12 Tips for a great night's sleep

Jun 23, 2015

You might not be able to control all the things that interfere with your sleep but you can adopt habits that help you sleep better! One of the most important strategies for achieving good sleep is to get in sync with your body’s natural sleep–wake cycle (also known as your circadian rhythm). You’ll find that sticking to a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and getting up at the same time each day will help you feel much more refreshed and energised than if you sleep the same number of hours at different times.


1. Set a regular bedtime.



Go to bed at the same time every night. Choose a time when you normally feel tired, so that you don’t toss and turn. Try not to break this routine on weekends when it may be tempting to stay up late. If you want to change your bedtime, help your body adjust by making the change in small daily increments, such as 15 minutes earlier or later each day.



2. Wake up at the same time every day.



If you’re getting enough sleep, you should wake up naturally without an alarm. If you need an alarm clock to wake up on time, you may need to set an earlier bedtime. As with your bedtime, try to maintain your regular wake–time even on weekends.



3. Stay away from big meals at night.



Try to make dinner-time earlier in the evening, and avoid heavy, rich foods within two hours of bed. Fatty foods take a lot of work for your stomach to digest and may keep you up. Also be cautious when it comes to spicy or acidic foods in the evening, as they can cause stomach trouble and heartburn.



4. Avoid alcohol before bed.



Many people think that a nightcap before bed will help them sleep, but it's counterintuitive. While it may make you fall asleep faster, alcohol actually reduces your sleep quality, and can make you wake up later in the night. To avoid this effect, stay away from alcohol in the hours before bed.



5. Cut down on caffeine.



You might be surprised to know that caffeine can cause sleep problems up to ten to twelve hours after drinking it! Consider eliminating caffeine after lunch or cutting back your overall intake.



6. Avoid drinking too many liquids in the evening.



Drinking lots of water, juice, tea, or other fluids may result in frequent bathroom trips throughout the night. Caffeinated drinks, which act as diuretics, only make things worse.



7. Fight after–dinner drowsiness.



If you find yourself getting sleepy way before your bedtime, get off the couch and do something mildly stimulating to avoid falling asleep, such as washing the dishes, calling a friend, or getting clothes ready for the next day. If you give in to the drowsiness, you may wake up later in the night and have trouble getting back to sleep.



8. Turn off your television and computer.



Many people use the television to fall asleep or relax at the end of the day. This is a mistake: Not only does the light suppress melatonin production, but television can actually stimulate the mind, rather than relaxing it. Try listening to music or audio books instead, or practicing relaxation exercises. If your favourite TV show is on late at night, record it for viewing earlier in the day.



9. Don’t read from a backlit device at night (such as an iPad).



Many people use the television to fall asleep or relax at the end of the day. This is a mistake: Not only does the light suppress melatonin production, but television can actually stimulate the mind, rather than relaxing it. Try listening to music or audio books instead, or practicing relaxation exercises. If your favourite TV show is on late at night, record it for viewing earlier in the day.



10. When it’s time to sleep, make sure your room is dark.



The darker it is, the better you’ll sleep! Cover electrical displays, use heavy curtains or shades to block light from windows, or try a sleep mask to cover your eyes.



11. Keep your room cool.



The temperature of your bedroom also affects your sleep. Most people sleep best in a slightly cool room (around 65°F or 18°C) with adequate ventilation. A bedroom that is too hot or too cold can interfere with quality sleep.



12. Make sure your bed is comfortable.



You should have enough room to stretch and turn comfortably. If you often wake up with a sore back or an aching neck, you may need to invest in a new mattress or a try a different pillow.