Tips for a good night's sleep

Effects of not enough sleep

​Political leaders may only get 4-5 hours but as a general rule most adults need 7-9 hours sleep per day (this may include daytime naps). 

A good clue is that you wake up without an alarm clock feelingrefreshed and alert.

Some people get more sleep than they think. This 
sleep profile test from the BBC will help you see what type of sleeper you are and give tips to improve your sleep.


How much sleep is enough?


Sleep is essential to our health and wellbeing yet lots of us may not be getting enough.  Some people may experience other sleep problems.  

It is important to see your GP  if you experience difficulty breathing, pain and sleep disturbance, chronic snoring or excessive daytime sleepiness.

It is perfectly normal for sleep patterns to change over our lives, for example babies and children need a lot more sleep than older adults.  The quality and length of our sleep is often affected by a change in routine such as a new bed or starting a job.  Other factors include light, alcohol, meal timing and stress.

Modern patterns of eating late, drinking sugary, caffeine laden drinks and using computers, TV, and phones late in to the night mess up the Circadian rhythm.  This is our own internal 24 hour body clock which governs our biochemical, physiological and behavioural processes.  In turn this may lead to a vicious circle of overwork, sleeping less and using more and more caffeine, sugar etc to cope the next day.

  • ​​try settling down for bed an hour before you want to sleep. Have a milky drink, warm bath or shower and maybe read a chapter of a novel
  • don’t go to bed full or hungry – leave at least 2 hours after a meal
  • cut down on coffee, other caffeine or ‘energy’ drinks, and alcohol
  • do some outdoor exercise or have a walk during the day (not just before bed)
  • practice relaxationmeditation or self-massage. See the MIND website for more info.
  • keep your bedroom as dark as possible – try ‘black-out’ blinds or curtains
  • ensure your room is cool
  • cut down on blue light in the evening, so turn off phones, TV, computers, even blue lights on your alarm clock. Night time exposure to blue light appears to disrupt sleep cycles – visit the F.lux website to download free softwear which reduces blue light emissions on your computer
  • use candlelight in the evening, keeping well away from curtains etc and never leaving the room with a candle lit
  • if all else fails, book in for a chat with your GP

Useful websites

​The National Sleep Foundation is a US website with information on all aspects of sleep.

MIND, the mental health charity has webpages on sleep problems.

BBC website has useful pages.

Mark's Daily Apple is a health blog which has more info on how light affects our sleep.

Not having enough sleep can have significant effects on our health andwellbeing

Short term effects include:

  • reduced performance in mental and athletic tests
  • reduced alertness, concentration and memory
  • negative effects on mood                  

In other words, sleep deprivationis often a factor in accidents, poor grades and exacerbated emotional and behavioural problems.

Longer term, not getting enough sleep can lead to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity (among other things).​