The Do’s and Don’ts of getting a good night’s rest 12 13 14

Sleep hygiene has nothing to do with being clean (although taking a bath does help). It is a term used to describe all those habits and behaviours that could help you get a good night’s rest. Good sleep hygiene is a gateway to sweet dreams and can even help your overall health. 6

If you are suffering from sleep difficulties there are some things that you can do and avoid doing in order to help you get a better night’s sleep. Some of these are common sense, and others may even surprise you – so give them a try and see what works for you. 12

Do’s:

  • Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning. This will set your natural body clock, making your body used to it. 12 13 14
  • Get some natural light during the day and spend as much time as possible outdoors. Our bodies need it to help produce melatonin, which in turn helps us sleep better at night. Sunlight early in the morning also helps synchronise your body clock. 14
  • Make sure you have a good sleep environment with a comfortable bed in a quiet, dark room. You spend ⅓ of your day in bed, so make sure it is comfortable and that you are not too cold or too hot. 2 12 13 14
  • Make sure that your bedroom is used for only two things – sleeping and sex. Our brains associate certain activities with certain rooms, so if you use your bedroom for anything else, you will struggle to fall asleep. 12 14
  • Remove TVs, computers and other gadgets from your bedroom – it stimulates your brain activity and makes it harder for you to fall asleep. 12 13
  • Check the labels on your medication to make sure you won’t be taking anything at night that could be hindering your sleep. Certain over-the-counter medications, including cold or allergy medication can keep you awake. Make sure you take medications as directed – speak to your doctor or healthcare provider if you are unsure. 14
  • During the day, be as active as possible. Exercise regularly but avoid strenuous exercise in the late evenings. 2 12 14
  • Do something relaxing just before bed, like reading a book or taking a warm bath. A warm bath raises the body’s temperature and then when it falls, it makes you sleepy. 12 14
  • Lose weight if you are overweight or obese as it can negatively impact your sleep. 11 15
  • Keep a sleep diary to help determine what positively or negatively affects your sleep. 12

 Don’ts

  • Even though exercise is good for you, you shouldn’t do it just before going to bed – it stimulates the body and may make it harder to fall asleep. Try to do the last of your exercise before dinner. 2 12 14
  • Don’t stay in bed if you are still awake after more than 20 minutes. Get up and go do something else – preferably something boring – in another room and then return to your bedroom to try again. 12 14
  • Don’t go to bed feeling hungry – but don’t indulge in a heavy evening meal as this could cause heartburn and lead to weight gain. 2 12 13 14
  • Don’t discuss or analyse problems in bed. Also, don’t play computer games or work at night just before going to bed – this will stimulate your mind and make it difficult to fall asleep. 14
  • Don’t smoke or drink alcohol, especially in the evening. 2 12 14
  • Avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, certain soft drinks, chocolate) for at least 4-6 hours before bedtime. 2 12 14
  • Don’t share your bed with pets or children. 14
  • Don’t stare at the clock all the time. 14
  • Don’t take naps during the day as this will make you less sleepy at night. 12 14