How can I sleep better? Tips for getting quality sleep

How can I sleep better? Tips for getting quality sleep

In our fast-paced society, where distractions, hectic lifestyles and easy-to-come-by stimuli can take centre stage, getting quality shut-eye can be easier said than done. But many of us know that a good night’s sleep can be extremely important to our mental and physical wellbeing. We recently carried out a survey1, which revealed that a quarter (25%) of people in the UK long for better quality sleep.

There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach to dealing with sleep issues but small changes to daytime and nighttime habits could drastically improve sleep quality. Dr Doug Wright, Medical Director for Aviva UK Health, states that “sleep plays an important role in mental and physical health, with your body using this time to renew and repair. Not getting enough sleep can therefore be more damaging than just feeling tired during the day.”

However, the good news is that “there are lots of steps you can take to get a better night’s sleep, including saying no to late night television and avoiding big meals at night.” In order to find out more about how people can improve their sleep, we spoke to Neil Shah, Chief De-Stressing Officer at the Stress Management Society, who offered some helpful tips to help lower stress in order to get great quality sleep. Here are some of his tips:

Eat a balanced diet and exercise

“Eat a balanced diet and take regular exercise. Be sure to exercise 4 hours before bedtime.”

Block out the light

“Don’t expose yourself to bright lights before going to bed; it tricks your body into believing it’s time to be awake.”

Set a schedule

“The body adapts quickly to routine. Going to bed and rising at the same time helps to establish a stable sleep pattern.”

Avoid heavy meals before bed

“Don’t eat a heavy meal before retiring; however don’t go to bed feeling hungry. Instead, eat a light snack.”

Write down your worries

“If you find yourself waking up at night thinking about things you have to do, keep a pad and pen close by to note them down so you can return to sleep untroubled.”

Everything in moderation

“Balance work and play. Stress and overwork lead to poor sleeping habits.”

Establish a sleep routine

“Have a bedtime ritual. For instance, lie face up in bed with arms and legs slightly spread. Close your eyes. Sense the subtle sensations in your body. Focus on a point at your third eye – in between eyebrows and slightly up. Imagine a black hole and sink into it. Or count sheep!”

How have you improved the quality of your sleep?

We spoke to a number of people who have suffered from insomnia in the past, and asked them to share what helped them get a better night’s sleep. Here are a selection that could also work for you:

Eating dinner a lot earlier in the day and exercising have helped me! Playing music at low volume in the background when I’m trying to fall asleep also helps!”
Oliver, 40.

“I’ve cut out coffee and all stimulants. I also realised that physical activity helps me a lot and I’m trying to meditate every day. All these things don't make me sleep like a baby but surely help!”
Francesca, 20.

“Breathe in and count to four. Breathe out and count to six. As you concentrate on breathing and counting, you can't worry at the same time. And your body starts to relax. Every time you wake - if you do - breathe and count.”
Lily, 65.

“Having a bedtime routine! I turn off all screens, have a shower and then read a book. I also try and get into bed around the same time every day.”
Catherine, 25.

“I was having sleep issues for a while, but then I realised these were the result of something many of us do – over think. Since then I’ve tried to leave the day behind me when I go to bed, and now I sleep a lot more comfortably.”
Erfan, 28.

“When I was at university, I often slept badly because of stress. So I started practicing yoga and it helped an incredible amount”
Petra, 30.

“In the past, when I felt restless in bed, I used to get up and write, cook and clean, but I soon learnt not to hoover at 2am as it upsets the neighbours”
Karen, 43.

I found that the most helpful solutions were to cut down of caffeine, carry out exercise after work and reading before bed. I also avoided using technology after 9pm”
Nicholas, 29.

Next time you find yourself having difficulties falling asleep, why not try some of the tactics above. They could certainly help you get better quality sleep, significantly improving your mental and physical wellbeing.

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1. Aviva Health Check UK Report (2016)

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