How to sleep better – simple ways to get a good night’s rest

Suffering from a bad night’s sleep? Constantly feeling lethargic and lacking energy? Take a look at our simple tricks for improving your sleeping habits

Want to know how to sleep better? From finding the best mattress to choosing the ideal bedroom colour scheme, these simple tips will help you nod off at night and be more productive during your waking hours.

For more practical expertise, enjoy more of our bedroom advice articles

We’ve asked sleep experts including Bensons for Beds’ Stephanie Romiszewski and Dr Ranj Singh, Brand Ambassador for British bed brand, Sleepeezee, to share their tips on how to beat the sleep blues.

How to get a good night’s sleep

Whether you’re a full eight hours person or can get by on a mean lean four, quality sleep time is the key to a productive and happy day. ‘We spend about a third of our lives asleep,’ says Tobin James, Tempur UK Managing Director.

‘Good quality sleep is essential to maintaining good mental and physical health. It’s as important to our bodies as eating, drinking and breathing and can affect our performance, concentration, energy levels, relationships, moods and interpretation of the world.’

‘Up to one third of the population suffers from insomnia, with common mental health problems such as stress, anxiety and depression often underpinning sleep problems, and likewise, poor sleep often leading to poor mental health.’

So put a spring in your step with our top tips for restful snoozing. Read on to discover how to sleep better.

1. Find the perfect mattress

how to sleep better new mattress

From a pocket-strung design to an open-spring mattress or even a memory-foam version, finding the right mattress can make the difference between a good sleep or a restless night. A mattress should be the right firmness and tension to support your back and neck, making it super comfortable to sleep on.

‘When you keep in mind that the average person spends a quarter of their life sleeping, it makes sense to start at the very heart of your bedroom – your mattress,’ says Thomas Colleran, Brand Manager at Duvalay. ‘An uncomfortable bed can rob you of up to an hour of sleep a night, and that’s before we even talk about the hygiene aspect. A typical human sheds over a pound of skin a year, while also losing around half a pint (285ml) of moisture each night!’ Yuck!

‘This spring time, it is the perfect time to think about investing in a new mattress,’ Thomas adds. ‘Your average mattress should last between seven and eight years, and while this doesn’t seem long, if you put aside the lack of quality sleep and mounds of dead skin and sweat, investing £1,000 in a mattress equates to just 35p a night.’

Related: Best mattress: The guide to a perfect night’s sleep

2. Is your pillow the problem?

How to sleep better

Image credit: Nanu Sleep

Struggling to get comfortable at night? Your pillow might be the problem. This unique pillow allows restless sleepers to create a pillow that is tailored to their needs, ensuring a perfect sleep for even the worst insomniacs. It does this by asking for your weight, height, what side you sleep on, and how firm or soft you like your pillow. Welcome to the future of perfect sleep.

Buy now: Perfect Pillow, from £30, Nanu Sleep

3. Choose the right bedroom colour scheme

Bedroom with sage green walls how to decorate with green

Image credit: Lisa Cohen

Whatever your bedroom decorating choice, make sure you choose a restful colour scheme. It doesn’t have to follow a strict interior design rule, but make sure you choose something that makes you feel relaxed and comfortable.

If you find large bright patterns stressful, then avoid. Not sure where to start? In general, green is considered one of the most calming colour schemes and it can work well with a variety of different hues.

Related: This is the WORST colour to paint a bedroom if you want a good night’s sleep

4. Pick the ideal bedlinen

How-to-sleep-better-choose-the-right-bedlinen

Again this is down the personal preference, but remember the thread count can make a difference. Typically, the higher the thread count, the finer and smoother the fabric.

Think about the fabric and the weave – from plain to percale and satin to flannelette, there are a whole host of different fabric choices. And all this before you’ve even had fun picking colours and designs!

5. Invest in blackout blinds

This tip comes from Dr Ranj Singh. ‘Black-out blinds or curtains will limit light at night time,’ he explains. ‘This is crucial, as light interferes with melatonin production.’ Melatonin, incidentally, is the hormone that encourages us to go to sleep.

6. Embrace the power of lavender

A few drops of lavender on the pillow is said to help promote relaxation and ultimately a good night’s sleep. Try adding a splash of lavender essential oil to a bath for an even deeper sleep…

Related: It’s not you, it’s me: Brits take sanctuary in the bathroom as sometimes we just need to get away from it all (and everyone else!)

7. Put away your phone

How-to-sleep-better-avoid-computers

Image credit: Neale Smith

It’s useful to avoid looking at phones/screens/TVs for at least half an hour before you’re due for some shut eye. ‘Try to avoid having electronic devices in the bedroom, full stop,’ advises Dr Ranj Singh. ‘Or use a blue-light filtering app or mode.’ Again, this is because that blue light will stop your body from producing melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep.

8. Stick to a routine

This one might be easier said than done, but try your best to stick to a similar bedtime routine – this means going to bed at the same time each evening and getting up at the same time each morning. Try to keep to a similar wind-down routine before you go to sleep so your body and mind knows when its time for shut eye.

9. Get the right amount of sleep

You need to know how much sleep you need to feel good. It’s likely to be seven to eight hours, but it could be as little as four. Try keeping a sleep diary or tracking your sleep with a wearable device (ideally not your phone).

If you have a good idea of how much sleep you need to feel good and what affects your sleep, you can make sure you establish good habits, or pinpoint issues.

10. Watch what and when you eat and drink

vegetables-keep-food-fresh

Image credit: Alun Callender

As a rule, eating less than two hours before bed means that food hasn’t had time to digest before we try and sleep. This can lead to discomfort and indigestion. Fatty or spicy foods can take longer to process and stimulants like caffeine or sugar can give us a boost of energy when we want to be winding down. Rice, oats and dairy products can encourage us to feel sleepy.

Dr Ranj also suggest you eat more carrots. ‘Carrots contain carotenoids which make your eyes more tolerant of blue light,’ he explains. ‘You could also have a shot of Tart Montgomery Cherry Juice when going to bed, as it is high in melatonin – but be careful of its sugar content.’

11. Avoid alcohol

We like to think that alcohol makes us sleep better. It may help us nod off, but the quality of the sleep you get may be poor, and dehydration or a late-night takeaway can further impair our sleep.

12. Don’t exercise in the evening

Exercise is great for mental health and regular light exercise is a good way to improve sleep. Exercise floods the body with feel-good hormones that stimulate our minds and bodies, so beware of exercising late at night as it can actually keep us awake.

13. Don’t take a nap

Sometimes it’s easy to give in to sleep on the train or bus home after a busy day. And yes short naps ‘G’ you up. But that’s just it…they have literally stolen some of your sleep ‘fuel’. If you nod off, even for a short time, you can short circuit the natural hormone surges that set us up for our main sleep. Therefore you need to regain it again if you still expect to sleep a solid 8 hours of quality sleep.

Get rid of the naps and, if you are tired early in the evening, get an early night.

14. Give yourself permission to go to bed later if you’re not sleepy

How to sleep better

Image credit: David Brittain

It really is ok. Quality sleep is much more important than quantity. And besides… that will come eventually.

15. Find ways to address anxiety and worry

Health is one of our biggest worries. If you lie awake mulling over concerns about your health, or the health of a loved one, you could try meditation or a mindfulness technique to help settle your internal worries.

If you’re planning to use a meditation or tapping technique to settle you, Digital Editor Amy recommends Moby’s Long Ambient playlists, available on Spotify. Dr Ranj also suggests trying apps like Calm and Headspace to help you relax.

Mindfulness and anxiety reduction techniques won’t necessarily make you sleep instantly, but they will help you avoid stress, and therefore prevent sleep problems in the future.

16. Don’t put up with poor sleep

Basic techniques can often improve your sleep. If tips like these don’t work, speak to your GP. It may be that you have an underlying health issue. If you have insomnia for more than a couple of weeks, or often feel so sleepy you could drop off during the day, it’s worth speaking to the doctor as sleep disorders can increase our risk of developing depression, heart disease or stroke.

Related: Best mattress toppers – the top mattress protectors for better comfort and sleep

17. Don’t let a health issue stop you sleeping

how to sleep better

Image credit: Tim Young

Do what you can to treat colds and flu at home and make sure that you speak to your doctor if an ongoing health problem or treatment affects your sleep.

18. Wear cotton to bed

Cotton is a great material for bedtime as not only is it lightweight and comfortable, it helps to regulate body temperature.

‘We chose to use cotton in all of our D&D pyjamas as it cannot hold any electric charge preventing it from clinging and allowing your skin to breathe – so you get a better night’s sleep. It is also easy to take care of and doesn’t need dry cleaning, an added bonus,’ explains Molly Goddard, co-founder at Desmond & Dempsey.

19. Get up at the same time every day

Yes! 7 days a week, even if you have slept badly. If this is a terrifying notion it’s probably an indicator of how unregulated your current sleep is. It does get easier… I promise!

20. Get more light in the day!

How to sleep better

Image credit: Brent Darby

Light is not the enemy. Yet we are simply told to avoid it at night. Yes be sensible in the evenings. But why are we getting ready in the dark?! Light is the most influential external factor on our sleep/wake cycles and lifts our mood! Artificial is OK too…

We can all benefit from improving the quality of our sleep. For many of us, it may simply be a case of making small lifestyle or attitude adjustments to help us sleep better. Nighty night!

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