10 tips to beat insomnia
Simple lifestyle changes can make a world of difference to your quality of sleep.
Follow these 10 tips for a more restful night.
Keep regular sleep 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 likely to feel tired and sleepy.
Create a restful sleeping environment
Your bedroom should be a peaceful place for rest and sleep. Temperature, lighting and noise should be controlled so that your bedroom environment helps you to fall (and stay) asleep.
If you have a pet that sleeps in the room with you, consider moving it somewhere else if it often disturbs you in the night.
Make sure 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.
Moderate exercise on a regular basis, such as swimming or walking, can help relieve some of the tension built up over the day. But make sure you do not do vigorous exercise, such as running or the gym, too close to bedtime, as it may keep you awake.
Find out more about how to get active your way.
Cut down on caffeine
Cut down on caffeine in tea, coffee, energy drinks or colas, especially in the evening. Caffeine interferes with the process of falling asleep, and also prevents deep sleep. Instead, have a warm, milky drink or herbal tea.
Do not 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.
Do not smoke
Nicotine is a stimulant. People who smoke take longer to fall asleep, wake up more frequently, and often have more disrupted sleep.
Try to relax before going to bed
Have a warm bath, listen to quiet music or do some gentle yoga to relax your mind and body. Your GP may be able to recommend a helpful relaxation CD.
Write away your worries
If you tend to lie in bed thinking about everything you have to do tomorrow, set aside time before bedtime to make plans for the next day. The aim is to avoid doing these things when you're in bed, trying to sleep.
If you cannot sleep, get up
If you cannot sleep, do not lie there worrying about it. Get up and do something you find relaxing until you feel sleepy again, then go back to bed.
Make an appointment to see your GP if lack of sleep is persistent and it's affecting your daily life.
The NHS Apps Library has sleep apps that can help you sleep better.
Read more about insomnia.
Audio: sleep problems
In this audio guide, a doctor explains what you can do to give yourself the best chance of a good night's sleep.
Media review due: 2 March 2024
Page last reviewed: 4 July 2019
Next review due: 4 July 2022