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Top tips to a dreamy night’s sleep

Eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly are both key to keeping healthy. But what about sleep? Do you hold sleep as equally as important for your health?

We all know the feeling when we haven’t had a good night’s sleep – tired, lethargic, grumpy and unable to concentrate. The fact is, sleep is essential for our survival. Although scientists are still researching exactly why people need sleep, plenty of studies have demonstrated how it helps us function, day in day out.

From replenishing our energy stores to being able to process thoughts, speech and memories. Getting a good night's sleep has endless benefits which means it’s worth getting enough of it. But if you find it hard to drift off, we can help.

Below are some simple things you can try tonight to help you get a good night’s rest.

Details

  • Lights out Lights out

    Most adults need around eight hours sleep each night. So make sure you head to bed at a decent hour. If your alarm is due to go off at 7am, it’s not going to do you any favours staying up past midnight.

    • Try to go to bed at a set time each night and get up at the same time each morning.
    • Create a bedtime routine – this isn’t just for small children. Having a relaxing routine in the hour running up to bedtime can really help. Avoid creating excitement, stress or anxiety. Instead, have a soothing bath or read a book quietly, and keep lights low.
    • Although it’s tempting, having a lie in at the weekend will only make it harder to get up early on a Monday morning. This is because your sleep cycle has been reset. Plan something active to do at the weekend to get you up and out.
  • Create a sleeping haven Create a sleeping haven

    Making sure that your bedroom is comfortable is key to a good night’s sleep. Your room shouldn’t be too hot, too cold, noisy or too bright.

    • Blackout blinds or eyeshades will block out daylight or light from street lamps.
    • Earplugs are useful to reduce unwanted noise, including snoring partners.
    • In the summer, fans can help to keep your room cool.

    Don’t be tempted to watch TV or use a laptop, tablet or mobile when you’re in bed. The light and stimulation from these devices can activate parts of your brain and keep you awake. If you have trouble sleeping, it’s even more important not to use electronic devices in the run up to bedtime.

  • Put your worries to bed Put your worries to bed

    One of the main reasons why people often find they can’t sleep is because they are worrying about things that are going on in their life. This then turns into worry and anxiety about the fact that they can’t get to sleep.

    One way to combat this is to keep a notebook by your bed. If you’re having difficulty dropping off to sleep, or wake up in the night, write down your worries or the things you’re thinking about. This will help organise your thoughts, rather than going over them in your head.

    Importantly, if you can’t sleep, don’t lie there worrying about it. If you’re unable to fall asleep within 15 to 30 minutes, get up and do something relaxing. Make a warm, milky drink or read in a quiet, dimly lit room.

  • Treatment for snoring

    Our Bupa Dental Centres offer a range of routine, specialist and cosmetic treatments including snoring solutions. Find out more.

  • Get moving to sleep better Get moving to sleep better

    Regular exercise is a great way to help you sleep better. It helps relieve stress and anxiety that can disrupt your sleep. Exercise can also help you maintain a healthy weight. And being overweight or obese can cause poor sleep because it can interfere with your breathing. Try exercising during the day or early evening. Any later and you may feel overly energised and have trouble getting to sleep.

  • What's keeping you up? What's keeping you up?

    There are several other things to consider, which may be affecting how well you sleep.

    • Caffeine. Drinking tea, coffee or energy drinks in the hours leading up to bed may prevent you from dropping off because caffeine is a stimulant. Steer clear of these drinks by mid-afternoon. In the evening, choose to have a caffeine-free herbal tea or a warm, milky drink instead.
    • Alcohol. You might think that a glass of wine in the evening will help you nod off. In reality, it can actually interfere with your sleep and will most likely cause you to wake up in the night. If you have trouble sleeping, steer clear of alcohol for at least six hours before bedtime.
    • Your mattress. The saying “have comfortable shoes and a comfortable mattress” holds a lot of truth. If you’re not in one, you’re more than likely in the other. So make sure your mattress is comfortable and supportive. You should replace your mattress every 10 years to get the best support and comfort from it.
  • When to seek help When to seek help

    If a bad night’s sleep becomes a regular occurrence and it’s affecting your quality of life, see your GP. He or she will be able to discuss your sleeping habits and give you advice and support. You might even be referred to a sleep specialist if your GP thinks you may benefit from further investigation.

    Most sleep disorders can be treated, so don’t put up with endless restless nights. Sleep is fundamental to your health, both mentally and physically. Following our advice on this page and finding out more by visiting our sleep hub, may help you not only sleep better but feel better too.

  • Resources Resources

    Further information

    Headspace This tool describes itself as gym membership for your mind using meditation and mindfulness techniques. You can start off with free 10-day introduction to meditation and then choose to subscribe for access to more exercises covering a range of topics. You can use it on your phone or computer, depending on what suits you best.
    Mental Health Foundation The Mental Health Foundation is a charity that carries out research and offers information about many areas of mental health. If you have problems with your sleep, this page is for you. It has details of some reasons that are behind having trouble sleeping and suggestions of things you can try to help yourself sleep better.
    Mind The charity Mind has information to support people with a mental health condition and those who care for them. Their sleep content has tips on practical things you can do to help yourself if you’re not sleeping well.

    Sources

    • Brain basics: understanding sleep. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. www.ninds.nih.gov, published December 2013
    • Sleeping well. Royal College of Psychiatrists. www.rcpsych.ac.uk, published 25 February 2014
    • Healthy sleep tips. National Sleep Foundation. www.sleepfoundation.org, accessed 25 February 2014
    • Insomnia. Medscape. www.emedicine.medscape.com, published May 2013
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