Handy tips for a good night's sleep

BY Added Health Editorial Team | 22 June 2023

Sleep is one of Added Health’s five pillars of health and is vitally important for our mental and physical wellbeing.

Sleep is important to our mental health, productivity and quality of life. The key is to improve your “sleep hygiene”, which means improving the habits and daily routines that lead to a consistent, healthy night’s sleep. Sleep can be affected by many factors including what we eat and drink during the day as well as stress and screen time. Some simple lifestyle changes in addition to following steps for good sleep hygiene, can help improve the quality of our nightly sleep. Here are our seven top tips.

Dark and cool

Make sure your bedroom environment is cool, calm and dark. If you have a thermostat, set the room temperature around 18 degrees Celsius. Avoid television and digital devices in your bedroom. At least an hour before you go to bed, switch off your phone (and other screens). If you don’t feel particularly tired, try reading a book while listening to calming music.

Replace screens with wind-down time

Technology is bad for sleep. Take the last hour before bed to unwind: read a book, listen to music, enjoy a leisurely bath, or chat to a friend or partner.

Your phone, your TV, your laptop all stimulate you and keep you wide awake. You don’t need them in your bedroom. Charge your phone downstairs overnight, or at least on the other side of the bedroom not at your bedside.

Keep to a sleep schedule

Go to sleep at the same time every evening. Wake up at the same time each day, including weekends. This habit will encourage your circadian rhythm, your internal body clock, which produces the hormone melatonin at night, which helps you sleep. So, even if you feel you haven’t slept well, don’t lie in; stick to your normal wake-up routine. This will help keep your circadian rhythm and hormones running smoothly, which helps your immunity and mental health.

Exercise regularly

Regular exercise, ideally in the morning, improves your sleep and general health. A brisk walk, a run, swimming, cycling or doing aerobics peps you up in the morning and puts you in a good mood.

Avoid the nightcap trap

A small nightcap may be OK for some. That said, alcohol at bedtime typically causes poor-quality sleep and will probably wake you up for a pee during the night (even a small nightcap). Drinking makes snoring worse, which can reduce the oxygen in your blood, disturbing your sleep. Overall, the science is clear: avoid drinking late in the evening. Better still. Don’t drink at all.

Coffee until 12pm

Caffeine is a stimulant which keeps you awake. It stays in your system for hours. About a third of people clear caffeine from their systems fast. Most of us should avoid tea, coffee, chocolate and cola drinks if you are having trouble sleeping. Herbal teas are great. Decaf tea or coffee still has some caffeine (about 10% of the regular amount), so best to avoid them after midday. 

Watch what you eat

A large, heavy meal close to bedtime interferes with sleep. Try to keep it light and full of salad. Avoid foods containing tyramine which causes the release of a brain stimulant. This includes fermented, picked or cured foods such as cheese, wine, soy sauce and some fruits and nuts. If you get hungry close to bedtime, eat something that triggers the hormone serotonin, which makes you sleepy — a carbohydrate snack like a banana or porridge oats.

The take-home message

Some of these tips are easier to fit into your daily and nightly routine than others. Nearly everyone has a few sleepless nights from time-to-time — but if you often have trouble sleeping, try some of our tips and if your sleep quality is troubling you, check in with your health care professional.


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