Good sleep is essential for restoring the body and recharging the mind. Lack of sleep can be exhausting and may impact our ability to focus and carry out daily activities.

Sleep Hygiene Tips

Good sleep hygiene means creating a comfortable environment and daily routine for sleep. Improving your sleep hygiene can help you to enjoy consistent and undisturbed sleep. Below are 6 tips on how to maintain strong sleep hygiene.

Or watch a video on tips for sleeping better.

  1. Try to keep to regular sleeping hours where possible.
    Going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time every day can help train your body to sleep more consistently. National Sleep Foundation guidelines advise that healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Think about how many hours is possible for you and set your sleeping hours to fit that. Try to avoid napping where possible as it can disrupt your sleep schedule.
    An alarm clock in white bed sheets
  2. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime.
    Drinking coffee, tea, or alcohol in the evening can cause difficulty falling asleep and prevent deep sleep. Try to avoid these kinds of beverages before sleep. Herbal teas or hot chocolates can be a good drink to have before bed to wind down.
    Someone in bed reading a book
  3. Set up a restful sleeping environment.
    It can be easier to fall and stay asleep when we have a dark and quiet environment. Use heavy curtains or an eye mask to stop light from interrupting your sleep. Avoid using phones, tablets and other electronic devices for about an hour before bed as the light from them can negatively impact your sleep. Try wearing ear plugs if you find that noise is interfering with your sleep. Calming scents can help create a positive space for sleeping - try using a lavender pillow spray on your pillow before bed.
    A sunset seen through a window with half-drawn blinds
  4. Active day, restful night.
    Being active and doing physical exercise can help you sleep better. If you can fit in a workout, run, cycle, or walk into your day then it could help you sleep better later. However, try to avoid exercising directly before bedtime as this can make it more difficult to sleep.
    A runner silhouetted by the sun
  5. Don’t force it.
    If you are lying in bed and really struggling to fall asleep, don’t force it. Try getting out of bed and carrying out a relaxing activity, such as reading or meditation, and then go back to sleep when you feel more tired.
    Someone practicing yoga by the side of their bed
  6. Write down your thoughts or worries.
    It can be hard to fall asleep when our minds are preoccupied with worrying or planning the activities of tomorrow. If this often happens to you then try setting time before bed to write these thoughts down. This can help relax your mind and prepare you to sleep.
    Writing in a book

Shift workers

An office building window at nightWorking shifts can be tiring and challenging to balance with our personal lives, especially if you often have to change the type of shifts you’re doing (e.g. nights to early shifts). It can be hard to have a regular sleep schedule when your routine is often changing and it is very common for people working shifts to experience sleep problems. It is important to address these problems as poor sleep can affect your mood, health, and work performance.

It can help to follow general tips for good sleep hygiene (see tips above) and adapt them to your schedule. For example if you are working night shifts, wear an eye mask to enjoy darkness while you sleep and then turn on bright lighting for at least half an hour when you wake up. This will help your body adjust to your sleep cycle.

Night Club is a health and wellbeing programme for night shift workers and employers to get help from sleep researchers to shape a healthier working experience. They provide workers with tools to monitor and change their behaviour to live healthier as a night shift worker. Additionally, Night Club works with employers to alter working practices and conditions to improve the environment for the workers and provide longer-term change. Click here to visit the Night Club website.

Here is a link to a guide by Night Club on managing sleep and shift work (PDF).

If you are an employer and would like to find out how Night Club could work at your organisation, please contact andrius@the-liminal-space.com.

Find further information on managing shift work.

If you have been struggling with your sleep problems regularly and think you may have insomnia or sleep apnoea, click here for more information.

Useful resources

We regularly discuss tips for improving sleep at our Hot Chocolate Hour – find the dates of upcoming sessions.

Sleepstation provides useful articles and resources to help with sleep problems.

There are a range of apps recommended by the NHS to help with sleep problems. Some are free and some are paid for. You may be able to get the paid apps prescribed for free on the NHS by your GP. See a list of recommended apps.

Apps that could help with relaxing sounds for sleeping include: Relax Melodies which also includes some guided meditations to help you get to sleep, and White Noise which plays sounds such as rainfall or a burning campfire to help you drift off to sleep.

For more tips on how to get to sleep, including an audio guide on sleep problems, visit this NHS page.

If your sleep problems are affecting your wellbeing, feel free to contact Keeping Well BLMK for advice. We can provide a safe, supportive space for you to talk about what’s going on for you. We can also help think with you about how you might want to access support and make onward referrals if needed.

To get in touch, message us on our live chat or give us a call on 01908 724 227. You can also request a call back or submit a self-referral form.

If you feel you need to talk to someone urgently, call the Samaritans for free, non-judgemental, and confidential support on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org

References


Updated on: 21/04/2022