Establishing a routine
If you have difficulty falling asleep, a regular bedtime routine will help you wind down and prepare for bed. Few people manage to stick to strict bedtime routines. This is not much of a problem for most people, but for people with insomnia, irregular sleeping hours are unhelpful. Your routine depends on what works for you, but the most important thing is working out a routine and sticking to it. This can be particularly hard if you are a shift worker. Winding down is a critical stage in preparing for bed. There are lots of ways to relax:
- a warm bath (not hot) will help your body reach a temperature that’s ideal for rest
- writing “to do” lists for the next day can organise your thoughts and clear your mind of any distractions
- relaxation exercises, such as light yoga stretches, help to relax the muscles. Do not exercise vigorously, as it will have the opposite effect
- relaxation CDs work by using a carefully narrated script, gentle hypnotic music and sound effects to relax you
- reading a book or listening to the radio relaxes the mind by distracting it
- avoid using smartphones, tablets or other electronic devices for an hour or so before you go to bed as the light from the screen on these devices may have a negative effect on sleep
Make your bedroom sleep-friendly
Your bedroom should be a relaxing environment. Experts claim there’s a strong association in people’s minds between sleep and the bedroom.
However, certain things weaken that association, such as TVs and other electronic gadgets, light, noise, and a bad mattress or bed.
Your bedroom ideally needs to be dark, quiet, tidy and be kept at a temperature of between 18C and 24C.
Keep a sleep diary
It can be a good idea to keep a sleep diary. It may uncover lifestyle habits or daily activities that contribute to your sleeplessness.
If you see your GP or a sleep expert they will probably ask you to keep a sleep diary to help them diagnose your sleep problems.
A sleep diary can also reveal underlying conditions that explain your insomnia, such as stress or medicine.
If you need more ideas, you can get help and advice from a GP.
You can also find more resources below and in our Insomnia and Sleep pages in the Self Help section on the Insomnia and Sleep page.
General sleep guidance and support
You can get free support and advice from The Sleep Charity, check their sleep help resources online or you you can call them 7pm and 9pm, Sunday to Thursday on 03303 530 541
There is some useful NHS guidance on how to get to sleep
Specific advice for shift workers
Although Ben.Org is an organisation set up to support automative industry staff their guidance on sleep for shift workers is useful for all shift workers.