• Harvey Young

12 tips for fall asleep faster and sleep better

An optimised environment for healthy sleep

We spend almost a third of our life sleeping and quality sleep is essential for good health and well-being. However, lifestyle and environmental factors are increasingly causing difficulties in sleeping.

The main health effects of poor rest and sleep deprivation include:

- sleepiness, fatigue, hypertension

- impaired ability to think, handle stress, maintain a healthy immune system, and moderate emotions

- deterioration of performance, attention and motivation

- diminishment of mental concentration and intellectual capacity

- increase in the likelihood of accidents at work and during driving

- mental health complications

Here are 12 tips to improve your sleep quality and support your health and well-being.

1. Seek out light during the daytime

Light exposure to your eyes causes your internal master clock to send signals that generate alertness and keep you awake. In particular exposure to natural light early in the day helps reinforce the strongest natural sleep-wake cycle.

2. Avoid bright light in the evening

Naturally, as night falls, your internal master clock initiates the production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep and keeps transmitting signals that help you stay asleep through the night. Therefore light exposure a few hours before your bedtime reduces the quality of sleep.

Some types of light are more likely to disturb your sleep-wake cycle. But keep in mind that any type of light can trouble your sleep if it’s bright enough or shining into your eyes – this includes fluorescent / LED lights, television, small charging lights or lights on an alarm clock. Many LED bulbs are not a good choice for bedroom lighting, as they emit blue light, which is the same kind of artificial light that comes from many digital screens. If you are struggling with lighting, try experimenting with a light that emits red light wavelengths, as this could improve sleep quality.

If you work night shifts, exposing yourself to as much light as possible during your working hours and using black-out curtains that can block out daylight to minimise light exposure before bed will help to train your brain to adopt a sleep-wake cycle that is fit for your lifestyle.

3. Regular Physical Exercise

Undertaking moderate exercise that you enjoy regularly, such as swimming or walking, can support a healthy sleep-wake cycle, it can also help relieve some of the tension built up over the day and help you to sleep. Take care not to do vigorous exercise too close to bedtime though, as it may keep you awake.

4. Same sleep and wake-up time

Going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time every day will programme your nervous system to have a better sleep-wake cycle. Choose a bedtime when you're likely to feel sleepy and get up at the same time each day. Try to maintain this sleeping habit even on your non-working days.

5. Lifestyle changes for Night time Urination

If you wake up more than once each night to go to the bathroom, you may have nocturia. Besides restricting fluid intake for a few hours before bed, in the late afternoon and evening, try to prop up your legs for an hour at a level that is slightly higher than your heart, this can help your body to redistribute fluid from your legs back into your bladder, so you can urinate during the day, rather than in the middle of the night.

6. Avoid alcohol and caffeine

Alcohol may help you to fall asleep initially, but it will disrupt your sleep later in the night. Cut down on the caffeine in tea, coffee, energy drinks or cola, especially late in the day and evening or before your bedtime. Stimulants like caffeine can keep you awake, prevent deep sleep and throw off the natural balance between sleep and wakefulness. If you do crave a cup of tea or coffee in the late afternoon or evening, stick with decaffeinated options.

First 6 tips for healthy sleep

7. Quit smoking

Nicotine doesn’t get as much attention as caffeine when it comes to getting better sleep but, like caffeine, nicotine is a stimulant and is strongly linked to insomnia due to the disruption it causes to our basic sleep structure - research suggests that smokers not only take longer to fall asleep but also wake up more frequently, and often have more disrupted sleep.

8. Keep naps to a minimum

If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps - especially in the afternoon. Power napping may help you get through the day, but if you find that you can't fall asleep at bedtime, eliminating even short catnaps may help.

9. Optimise your bedroom environment

Your bedroom should be a peaceful place for you to rest and sleep. Temperature, lighting and noise should be controlled so that your bedroom environment is designed to help you fall (and stay) asleep.

Avoid making your bedroom too hot or too cold. Refrain from using anything with a digital screen for at least a few hours before sleeping - this should include limiting the use of smartphones, tablets, laptops and VR headsets. Keeping the bedroom separate from your entertainment area may require a change to your furniture set-up, but it should keep noise levels down, reduce artificial light, and remove distracting elements from the bedroom. If you have a pet that sleeps in the room with you, consider moving it somewhere else if it often disturbs you at night.

10. Mattress matters

The Better Sleep Council suggests replacing your mattress every 7 to 10 years, depending on your comfort and how it supports you. The life of a mattress does vary, depending on the quality of it, how you sleep on it, and how often you rotate it. It can take up to a month for your body to get used to a new mattress, so don’t be disappointed if your new mattress doesn’t provide instant comfort and relief.

11. Winding down

Your body needs time to shift into sleep mode, so spend the last hour before bed doing a calming activity such as meditation, reading, taking a warm bath or listening to the radio or a podcast. If you tend to lie in bed thinking about everything you need to do tomorrow, set aside time before bedtime to make plans for the next day. The aim is to avoid doing these things when you're in bed.

12. If you can't sleep, get up

This may seem counter-intuitive, but if you can't sleep, don't lie there worrying about it. Get up and do something you find relaxing until you feel sleepy again, then go back to bed.

last 6 tips for healthy sleep

If you have persistent sleeping problems, daytime drowsiness, and/or a problematic sleep schedule, consult a specialist who can best diagnose the cause and offer the most appropriate treatment.

Our qualified and licensed expertise makes your journey to nervous system and musculoskeletal healthcare a reassuring one. To book a #holistic chiropractic or corrective exercise consultation or find out more about the procedures we offer at our clinics use our online appointment request form or call +44 (0) 20 7193 6272.