Can't Sleep? 10 Tips For A More Restful Night*

*This is a collaborative post*

Sleep is one of life's basic essentials, without it we can't function. In fact getting a good night's sleep is one of the basic building blocks for a healthier and happier life. 

If you've ever had trouble nodding off then you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. In my case I'll usually be tossing and turning all night, my brain simply wide awake, my worries all rearing their ugly heads. Being tired and deprived of sleep means that everything seems one hundred times worse. But did you also know that a lack of sleep on a regular basis can have a serious effect on your mental and physical health? I've noticed that when I'm sleep deprived I'll feel moody, anxious and overly-emotional, but apparently it can also increase our chances of developing obesity, heart disease and/or diabetes.

Most of you will have no doubt heard that age old adage "there's nothing like a good night's sleep", and there is plenty of medical evidence to suggest that the benefits of quality sleep are many and varied. But what if you just can't sleep? Like myself, many people complain of going to bed feeling tired, but as soon as their head hits the pillow their brain will ping wide awake. As you may have experienced yourselves, the more you worry about it, or 'try' to get to sleep, the more elusive it becomes.

Thankfully there are things you can try to help improve your sleeping habits. Today, together with Acorn Stairlifts, I'll be sharing some pointers with you. 

Please bear in mind that in severe cases of diagnosed insomnia, it may be that medication is needed, but many 'sleeping pills' can have unwanted side-effects. In less pronounced cases, herbal 'sleep remedies' which are available without prescription might help.

There are a number of relatively simple lifestyle changes which could make it easier to fall asleep and to stay asleep longer, thus allowing you to wake feeling refreshed and ready to face the world. Before you resort to any kind of sedative, why not give them a go?

Without further adieu, here are ten tips which could help you to achieve a restful night's sleep;


You knew this one was coming right? It's common sense, backed up by medical science, that some form of exercise during the day will help you to sleep better at night. Even a little mild exercise boosts the effect of natural sleep hormones, and can be particularly effective in post menopausal women. Word of warning though, don't exercise too close to bedtime as it releases stimulants which could keep you awake. A regular morning workout is far better.

Consider Your Environment

Look around your bedroom and ask yourself if it's conducive for a good night's sleep. Ideally it should be dark, pleasantly cool and quiet. Simple changes could make a huge difference such as changing your curtains or blinds to blackout versions. Earplugs that are designed for wear whilst sleeping might be a worthy buy too.

Avoid Caffeine And Alcohol

We all love a good cup of tea or coffee, but caffeine is a known stimulant and too much too close to bedtime will keep you awake. Many people assume an alcoholic drink before bed will help them drift off - me included - but alcohol is also a stimulant and while you might feel a little drowsy, it will actually inhibit deep sleep. (Put the wine down Justine!) It's a good idea to set yourself a 'stimulant cut-off point', such as no more coffee after 6pm. Try and experiment to find what works well for you.

Reserve Your Bed For Sleep 

I'm guilty of this one so I need to practice what I preach, but taking mobile phones, laptops and tablets to bed - all symptoms of modern day life - will make it much harder to get off to sleep. Even watching late TV in bed! All these activities will stimulate your brain. The blue light emitted by many electronic devices has also been shown to stimulate the subconscious mind. Needless to say our beds should be reserved for sleep... and perhaps just one other activity!

Try Some Music

Some people prefer absolute silence, but playing some soothing and relaxing music shortly before bedtime can lull you off to sleep and can even relieve insomnia. Classical music is best, as songs with lyrics can actually stimulate your brain. Using the same piece of music every night will work well as your brain, clever as it is, will recognise it as a prelude to sleep.

Have A Bedtime Snack 

If you're feeling peckish during the night your brain will be sent messages telling you to get up and eat something. Try having a light snack before bed which might help, but not too much. Something high in fibre and low in fat and sugar is best, maybe combined with a warm milky drink.

Start A Bedtime Ritual

A bedtime ritual works for young children and adults alike. You may have perhaps tried one with your own children and indeed recognise it's worth in getting them off to sleep, so why wouldn't it work for you too? Rituals help signal the body and mind that the time for sleep is approaching, so that your systems gradually switch to 'sleep mode'. Experiment to find a ritual that works for you, and then stick to it. The more you do it, the more effective it will become.

Try To Relax And De-Stress

Casting aside the cares of the day when you're trying to wind down for bed is easier said than done. However, if you can learn to do this then it will make it easier to get to sleep and you'll avoid the kind of 'anxiety dreams' that will keep you tossing and turning all night. Of course everyone is different but if you can develop your own mechanism for switching off then it can be a huge help. Some people visualise locking away all their worries in a drawer or safe and hanging up the key, others imagine that they have a 'shut down' button like the one on their computer and mentally push that button at bedtime. Don't knock it til you've tried it, what works for one might not work for another so experiment with different ideas.

Check Out Your Bed

Truth time. When did you last give your bed and bedding a check? Whether it's a worn and lumpy mattress, saggy pillows, a creaky bed frame or a duvet that leaves you too hot or too cold, any of these things might be preventing deep and restful sleep. Spend some time thinking about what wakes you up in the night, and whether changing any of the above might help. Investing a little in your bed and bedding could be repaid many times over in quality sleep.

Check Your Health

Has it occurred to you that it could be some function of your own body waking you? Whether it's snoring, sleep apnea (which interrupts normal breathing), restless leg syndrome, muscle cramps or something as simple as indigestion, there are a whole range of medical conditions which can be classed as 'sleep disrupters'. Thankfully most can be easily treated, but it's always a good idea to consult your GP if you think a condition is disrupting your sleep.

Whatever you do, a lack of, or poor quality sleep is not something that you should have to put up with. Although it's true that many people find it harder to sleep well as they get older, it doesn't have to be an inevitable part of ageing. Many older people have found ways to ensure that they still get and enjoy quality sleep, so there's no reason why you can't too.

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