Home » Sleep » Healthy sleep habits to last a lifetime
Sleep Health Q1 2022

Healthy sleep habits to last a lifetime

iStock / Getty Images Plus / Wavebreakmedia

Lisa Artis

Deputy CEO, The Sleep Charity

Do you suffer with sleepless nights? Do you toss and turn, or find yourself waking early? You are not alone; around 40% of the adult population in the UK struggle to sleep.

Sleep fulfils a vital role in keeping us healthy and happy. However, lack of sleep is a global problem and people turn to lots of different products or therapies to help them get that elusive good night’s kip.

There are some key sleep hygiene principles that people should follow for getting to sleep – and staying asleep.

Good, healthy habits pay off

Take small, manageable steps to implement lifestyle changes, which should positively impact your sleep. First, make sure your bedroom is conducive for sleep. A restful bedroom environment should ideally be cool, quiet, dark and free from distractions – that means removing computers, tablets, mobile phones and even TVs. Comfort – whether that’s the bed or the bedding – also plays a large part in optimising sleep.

Don’t try to sleep – it needs to find you.

Next, factor in a proper bedtime routine – aiming to wind down at least an hour before bed. Do something that you find enjoyable, i.e. listening to soothing music or sounds, reading or meditating.

Don’t try to sleep – it needs to find you. Keep your eyes open and gently resist sleep or try to adopt a carefree, accepting attitude to wakefulness. Avoid clock watching, if you can’t get to sleep within 30 minutes from switching the light off then get up and go to another room and do something relaxing.

Understanding the significance of sleep

How we sleep affects how we feel about areas of our life – whether that’s our mood, our relationships and even our work. Start by having a good morning routine. Try to wake up at a similar time and avoid lengthy lie-ins to strengthen the body clock. Where possible, expose yourself to natural light in the morning to suppress melatonin and boost alertness.

Consider what you do during the day that may impact your sleep. For instance, if you are sensitive to caffeine avoid it eight hours before bed so it doesn’t interfere with getting off to sleep. Exercise is great for sleep and mental health but try to do it earlier in the day rather than before bedtime.

For anyone who has been suffering with long-term insomnia, sleep strategies will not be effective without further intervention like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for insomnia.

Next article