10 tips to beat insomnia

Simple lifestyle changes can make a world of difference to your quality of sleep.

Following these 10 tips from The Sleep Council can help you have a more restful night.

1. Keep regular hours

Going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time every day will programme your body to sleep better. Choose a time when you're most likely to feel sleepy.

2. Create a restful sleeping environment

Your bedroom should be kept for rest and sleep. Keep it as quiet and dark as possible. It should be neither too hot nor too cold. Temperature, lighting and noise should be controlled so that the bedroom environment helps you to fall (and stay) asleep.

3. Make sure that your bed is comfortable

It’s difficult to get restful sleep on a mattress that’s too soft or too hard, or a bed that's too small or old. If you have a pet that sleeps in the room with you, consider moving it somewhere else if it often makes noise in the night.

4. Exercise regularly

Moderate exercise on a regular basis, such as swimming or walking, can help relieve some of the tension built up over the day. Make sure that you don't do vigorous exercise too close to bedtime, however, as it may keep you awake.

5. Less caffeine

Cut down on stimulants such as caffeine in tea or coffee, especially in the evening. They interfere with the process of falling asleep, and they prevent deep sleep. The effects of caffeine can last a long time (up to 24 hours), so the chances of it affecting sleep are significant. Instead, have a warm, milky drink or herbal tea.

6. Don’t over-indulge

Too much food or alcohol, especially late at night, can interrupt your sleep patterns. Alcohol may help you to fall asleep initially, but it will disrupt your sleep later on in the night.

7. Don’t smoke

It’s bad for sleep. Smokers take longer to fall asleep, they wake up more frequently, and they often have more disrupted sleep.

8. Try to relax before going to bed

Have a warm bath, listen to quiet music or do some gentle yoga to relax the mind and body. Your doctor may be able to recommend a helpful relaxation CD.

9. Write away your worries

Deal with worries or a heavy workload by making lists of things to be tackled the next day. If you tend to lie in bed thinking about tomorrow's tasks, set aside time before bedtime to review the day and make plans for the next day. The goal is to avoid doing these things when you're in bed, trying to sleep.

10. Don't worry in bed

If you can’t sleep, don’t lie there worrying about it. Get up and do something you find relaxing until you feel sleepy again, then return to bed.

Page last reviewed: 10/07/2014

Next review due: 10/07/2016


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The 6 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

jaine9 said on 28 October 2014

David Colquhoun - There is plenty of evidence which links caffeine to insomnia. If you go on Google Scholar and put in caffeine and insomnia you will find plenty of material. Where is your evidence that you sleep well even though you drink coffee? Have you ever tried giving up caffeine for long enough to see if the quality of your sleep improves? Given the tone of your comment I would say that irritability is something you have a problem with. One final point, the article is not suggesting that herbal teas will help you sleep; they are suggested as an alternative to caffeinated drinks.

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Hugo Robinson said on 08 May 2014

6 Reasons Why You Have Insomnia And How To Destroy Them http://goarticles.com/article/6-Reasons-Why-You-Have-Insomnia-And-How-To-Destroy-Them/8898124/

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David Colquhoun said on 05 March 2014

"Herbal tea"? Oh really! I thought NHS Choices was supposed to tell us about evidence, not silly myths. For anyone who drinks much coffee, it doesn't have the slightest effect on your ability to sleep. If you think otherwise, please supply references.

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Rhiannah said on 06 March 2013

To Scorpio8179 and all other shift workers - have you tried meditation? You don't nned the joss sticks and candles, just a quiet area where you can sit for a while and let your mind go blank. Probably best to try this after the kids have gone to school! Good luck :-)

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scorpio8179 said on 16 September 2012

It's well and good to say keep regular hours but if you're job doesn't allow it what do you do? My doctor said to find a new job, which world does she live in? I have a mortgage and dependants that rely on my stupid job without which: no mortgage no home no life no food. Sick and tired of NHS, who don't seem to live in the real world....

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Matt Corn said on 30 June 2011

There is some really good advice there for anyone who regularly can not fall asleep.

My best advice is to make sure you're relaxed before your bedtime and if your mind is thinking of lots of things then write them down.

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