As everyone gets older, it sometimes becomes harder to achieve enough quality sleep each night. You’re either too busy (or too distracted) to fall asleep early, you can’t seem to sleep in, or you’re not sleeping well. Either way, there are methods you can use to improve the length and quality of your sleep!

Routine is key:
Your body has an ‘internal clock’ that determines when you feel most tired. If you regulate this clock, by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, you can avoid feeling too sleepy in the mornings or evenings. Choose a bedtime when you usually feel tired, so you don’t turn and toss too much. If you get enough sleep, you should wake up naturally in the morning. If you have to use an alarm clock, try going to bed earlier.

Avoid sleeping in – even on weekends:

This builds on the point made above; it’s all about regulating your internal clock. If you need to make up for a late night, try a day nap instead of a sleep in. This reduces the likelihood of feeling those jet-lag-like symptoms, which can be caused by disrupted sleep cycles.

Avoid napping in the late afternoon:

If you feel like you need a nap every day, then you don’t necessarily have to forego it. Instead, make sure you take a nap in the early afternoon. This will stop you lying in bed wide-awake at night. You should also limit these naps to 15-20 minutes, to ensure you sleep well at night.

Avoid screen time an hour before bedtime:
Exposing yourself to bright light from a phone, laptop, tablet or computer screen can impact your sleep. The brain creates a hormone called melatonin that regulates a person’s sleep and awake cycles. Too much light from these screens at night can affect melatonin production and fool the brain into thinking the body isn’t ready for sleep. Try putting the screen down an hour before your bedtime, to allow your body to regulate.

Get regular, well-timed, exercise:
It is well known that exercise improves your quality of sleep; however, it matters when you exercise too. Working out increases your metabolism, body temperature and awareness. None of these are problems if you exercise in the morning, but can be if you exercise too close to bedtime. Avoid vigorous workouts at least three hours before you go to bed!

Avoid big meals at night:
Try to make your dinnertime earlier and avoid rich foods two hours before bed. Spicy and acidic foods can cause stomach trouble and heartburn when your body is horizontal, so you should also avoid eating these too late at night.

Limit your caffeine intake:
Whilst some of the effects of caffeine are instantaneous, caffeine can cause sleep problems up to ten hours after consumption! As such, try to avoid caffeinated drinks in the afternoon.

Keep noise to a minimum:
Before going to sleep, try keeping noise to a minimum. This includes keeping noisy pets in a separate area from your bedroom. For music you can’t control – like neighbours and traffic, try to mask these sounds with a fan or white noise. Earplugs may also be helpful.

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