Trouble Sleeping?

Ten tips for a good nights sleep

Posted Sep 09, 2012

Trouble sleeping? If so you are not alone. Every year millions of prescriptions are made for sleep medication. Estimates are that around 1 in every 10 people takes some form of sleeping tablet. Two of the most popular prescriptions are for zopiclone and temazepam. Are pills the only solution?

Here are some general tips for a good nights sleep. Try these before reaching for the pills:

Don’t have caffeine drinks from the late afternoon onwards.

Don’t eat too much in the hours before bedtime.

Ban the television and the computer from the bedroom. And switch the phone to silent.

Take some exercise during the day.

Don’t drink alcohol.

Switch off all the lights in the bedroom including pilot lights.

Use blackout blinds to keep the bedroom completely dark. Or use eye shades to block out light.

Still struggling to sleep?

We know that people who are stressed, depressed, anxious and nervous, tend to have poorer sleep. So some further things to try:

Try playing some calming music. Some people find relaxing new age CD’s with sounds of the enchanted forest or sounds of the sea works for them.

Get up and do something practical. Make a list of the ten things you need to do, but keep putting off, such as completing your tax return, or cleaning the bathroom cupboards. Once you have gone to bed give yourself thirty minutes to fall asleep. If after thirty minutes you are still awake get up and do whatever is top of the list. If you do fall asleep but wake up, give yourself fifteen minutes to fall asleep again.  If you haven't fallen asleep within fifteen minutes get up and do the next task on the list.

Finally, try using positive psychology. One study that investigated whether those who are more grateful sleep better found some interesting results. The researchers asked participants to complete six questions about how grateful they felt on a 1 to 7 scale, where 1 = strongly disagree and 7 = strongly agree. Two of the questions were:

I have so much in life to feel thankful for

I am grateful to a wide variety of people

It was found that the more grateful people were the better their quality of sleep. What was very interesting was that the reason for this seemed to be that more grateful people tend not to ruminate so much when falling asleep. Grateful people are less likely to think negative and worrying thoughts, and more likely to think positive thoughts as they are falling to sleep.

Try spending five minutes before you turn in thinking over the things you are grateful for. What went well today that you are appreciative of? Who deserves a thank you?

To find out more about my work:


Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., Lloyd. J., & Atkins, S. (2009). Gratitude influences sleep through the mechanism of pre-sleep cognitions. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 66, 43-48.