10 Healthy Habits for a Good Night's Sleep

Do you have trouble dropping off to sleep? Or waking in the night unable to get back to sleep?  Here are 10 ideas that could help.  The more of these you are able to do on a regular (ideally nightly) basis the better chance you have of getting that elusive 8 hours sleep that is recommended to keep physically and mentally well.

Sleep is vital for our health and well-being.  Whilst diet and exercise are important Matthew Walker, in his book on Why We Sleep suggests that ‘the physical and mental impairments caused by one night of bad sleep dwarf those caused by an equivalent absence of food or exercise’.  The research now suggests that a good night’s sleep is the reset button for our brain and body to function well each day. 

The following habits act as cues to your body and mind that sleep is on its way.  Remember it takes 40 days for something to become a habit so don’t expect a miracle on the first night.

1.    Around two hours before you plan to go to bed drink a ‘night-time tea’ – Clipper and Pukka both do good ones but there are many others.  The key ingredient is Valerian root. Avoid nicotine and alcohol.

2.    Turn off all screens, including the television, an hour before you want to go to sleep.

3.    Decide on a bed time (and a time to wake up) and stick to these within 15 minutes each side, every night.  Routine is the key.

4.    Have a pen and paper next to your bed if you need to jot down things for your to do list

5.    Take a bath before bed, the heat helps you relax and the drop in body temperature when you get out can be a sleep signal

6.    Have a routine such as face washing, teeth cleaning etc that you do every night (more clues that sleep is on its way)

7.    If you like night-time oils use these in a diffuser – there are some that also have ‘mood’ lights.

8.    Bedroom ambiance – black out blinds, low lights, ventilation, good bedding all help to make your bedroom your sanctuary

9.    Read – set yourself a time-limit and stop 10 minutes before you want to sleep

10. Guided meditation – use a guided meditation from the internet through ear plugs to tune into your breathing and relax.

Just to reiterate, it is these practices together that will give you the best chance of a good night’s sleep.

Read: Matthew Walker, Why We Sleep. Penguin