Struggling to fall asleep? You’re far from alone. According to a report from the Mental Health Foundation, less than 40% of people in the UK are “good sleepers” who fall and stay asleep without any difficulties.
When you have insomnia, falling asleep can feel impossible. However, it’s possible to treat many sleep-related conditions and improve your sleep quality using a variety of simple but surprisingly effective tips, tactics and non-pharmaceutical treatments.
We’ve listed eight of our favourites tactics below. If you have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or just feeling comfortable once you slip under the covers, try giving one or several of these tactics a try the next time you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep.
Create a pre-sleep routine
Just like waking up and getting ready for work is all about sticking to your morning routine, it’s often helpful to establish a pre-sleep routine to mentally prepare yourself for sleep.
From drinking a cup of caffeine-free tea to reading for 20 minutes, simple behaviours that make you feel relaxed can make a world of difference when it comes to quickly falling asleep as you switch off the lights.
Avoid napping in the afternoon
While an afternoon power nap can charge you up for the afternoon, it’s also likely to affect your level of tiredness late at night. If you’re struggling to fall asleep at night, try increasing the total amount of time you spend asleep at nighttime while eliminating afternoon or evening naps.
Get more daytime light exposure
When you spend time outside during the daytime, your body naturally establishes its circadian rhythm — a type of natural, biological clock that tells your brain when it’s time to feel awake and when it’s time to feel sleepy.
Studies show that spending time outside in bright light and establishing this rhythm is one of the most effective treatments available for enjoying healthy, deep sleep, including in people affected by severe insomnia.
Skip your afternoon cup of coffee
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but drinking caffeinated beverages late in the day is one of the easiest ways to keep yourself awake after your normal bedtime.
What many coffee drinkers don’t know is that caffeine has a fairly long half-life for a stimulant, staying active in your blood for as much as six hours after you drink it. To avoid any unwanted insomnia, it’s best to avoid any caffeinated beverages after noon.
Put away electronic devices 30 minutes before bed
Believe it or not, checking your phone or browsing the internet before you go to bed could keep you up at night. This is because your smartphone, tablet and computer screen all emit blue light, a form of light that’s linked to reductions in the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin.
To maximise your natural production of melanin and enjoy a deep night’s sleep, make sure you switch off or put away your electronic devices at least half an hour before your go to bed.
Switch off most lights an hour before bed
As well as switching off electronic devices, it’s helpful to turn off any bright room lights an hour or two before you go to bed. Like blue light, the bright light emitted from room lights often tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime, suppressing your melatonin levels and keeping you awake.
Keep your bedroom cool and comfortable
As nice as it might feel to pull up your sheets and relax in bed with the heating turned up all the way, doing so usually has a negative effect on your sleep quality.
Although there’s no absolute consensus, most studies on temperature and sleep tend to show that 15 to 22°C is the optimal bedroom temperature for sleep, assuming you have a duvet and sheets. If you sleep with a thinner duvet, a room temperature of up to 25°C is also optimal.
Sleep on a mattress that suits your body
Sealy mattresses are a Which? Best Buy top scoring mattress, approved by the NBF (National Bed Federation), their collections are backed by orthopaedic science letting you stretch out, relax and sleep as comfortably as possible.