Daytime habits for a better night's sleep
If you find it difficult to fall asleep once you're snuggled up in bed, you might find that changing your daytime habits could improve your chances of a good night's sleep. Here you'll find some suggestions to help you sleep at night.
Wake up at the same time each day: After a late night, even on the weekends or during holidays, resist the urge to sleep in. Consistently waking up at the same time each day - and going to bed at the same time each night - will help regulate your body's natural rhythm.
Get into the light: Exposing yourself to natural daylight during the daytime can also help regulate your body's clock. Try getting outside at lunchtime to expose yourself to sunlight. If grey, wintery days are too short to give you enough natural sunlight, artificial light from a light therapy box may help.
Exercise: Getting even small amounts of regular exercise can make it easier for you to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night, whether you exercise in the morning or afternoon. However, avoid vigorous exercising within a few hours of bedtime. If you can, aim to do 30 minutes of moderately intensive exercise on at least 5 days a week, but whatever you do will be helpful. Moderately intensive exercise includes brisk walking that warms you up and makes you slightly out of breath, jogging, cycling, heavy gardening, dancing, swimming, climbing stairs, golf or strenuous housework or DIY tasks. Exercise is especially important for people who sit for more than 8 hours a day, because sitting for long periods can make it more difficult to sleep.
Avoid naps: Having a nap in the afternoon may help you get through the day, but if you struggle to sleep at night, try giving up even short cat naps. If you find you really need to have a nap, have it in the early afternoon and set an alarm so that it's no longer than 20-30 minutes. Dozing in front of the TV in the evening can make sleeping more difficult at night.
Create a daytime slot for your worries: The more you worry at bedtime, the more you may struggle to sleep, so set aside a 'worry time' to go over lists and make stressful plans well before bedtime - and reserve the evening for winding down.
Establish a curfew for caffeine and other stimulants: Drinks that include caffeine such as coffee, tea, energy drinks and cola should be avoided in the 6 to 8 hours before you go to sleep. Nicotine is also a stimulant and smokers should avoid it close to bedtime. Alcohol may relax you at first, but it disrupts sleep later on, so avoid drinking alcohol within 3 hours of going to bed.
Avoid the bedroom: Reserve your bedroom for sleep or intimacy. Once you're out of bed and dressed in the morning, keep your activities to other locations.
You should also consider your evening routine. Avoid heavy or spicy meals close to bedtime and avoid the use of electronic devices with a light - the TV, computer, tablet or mobile phone - at least 30 minutes before bed. Finally, establish a relaxing bedtime routine such as having a warm bath or reading a book for 30 minutes before going to bed.