How many times did you hit the snooze button this morning?

We all crave sleep, but too many nights we fall short of the seven or eight hours we need to thrive.

In many cases, people experience insomnia because they develop a pattern of behavior that interferes with good sleep habits. Sleeping difficulties are often connected to underlying problems such as stress, depression or anxiety. So it can be a good idea to check with your GP to see if medical issues may be contributing towards your sleep problem.


Once you have done so there are many self-help techniques that can help. You may need to try several different things in order to find what works for you. The following are tips that can help you fall asleep naturally, and help you to stay asleep longer.

How much sleep do I need?

The majority of people seem to benefit from between seven  to eight hours of sleep a night. However, some people can cope well on far less, especially as they get older.

It is not necessarily the amount of hours you sleep but how you feel the next day.

Set yourself a bedtime and an awakening time

Set yourself a time to go to bed and get up. This way your body will get used to falling asleep and waking up at certain times. If you go to bed at different times, or have naps during the day, you lower your chances of a good night’s sleep. However tempting it is to nap, remember that sleeping during the day can affect your ability to sleep at night.

There is even some research to suggest that a nap during the day can negatively affect your mood.

Reduce and avoid sleep-disturbing substances

If you experience  depression , I strongly suggest avoiding alcohol, as it is a depressant. However, if you do drink, avoid doing so at least five to six hours before bedtime.

Some people drink alcohol because it has a sleep inducing effect. The problem arises when alcohol levels in the body start to fall as this induces a “wake up” effect. Caffeine drinks such as tea, coffee, cola and some energy drinks can certainly keep you awake at night.

Again, I would recommend reducing your intake and avoiding caffeine at least five to six hours before bedtime. The five to six hour rule should also be applied to rich, spicy and sugary foods.

Exercise helps you sleep… sometimes

fall asleep naturally 3Exercise is good for you. It helps deepen and improve the quality of your sleep. However, vigorous exercise close to bedtime is not a good idea as it may stimulate you and interfere with sleep.

Use self-hypnosis and relaxation techniques

Self-hypnosis and relaxation techniques can help you get to sleep. You can use them before bedtime and while in bed to help relieve anxiety and relax your mind and body. What follows is a brief relaxation technique.

1- Sit in a comfortable chair.
2- Relax and close your eyes.
3- Focus on the rhythm of your breathing.
4- Let your whole body become loose and limp.
5- Imagine a relaxing scene.
6- Allow yourself to drift off to sleep

Make your bedroom conducive to sleep

Making your bedroom a cozy place to sleep gives you the best chance of getting a good night’s rest. Is the room too hot or cold? Is your bedding comfortable? Are you using too many or too few pillows?

Reducing noise in the room and cutting out as much light as possible will help. Avoid the temptation to read or watch television as your bed should really only be used for sleeping and sex.

Prepare yourself for sleep

Avoid worrying or dwelling on stressful issues just before bedtime. A warm relaxing bath before turning in can help induce sleep. You could include some essential oils, though do seek the advice of a doctor or qualified therapist, as they should not be used if you are pregnant, if you take certain medicines or if you have certain medical conditions. A warm milky drink and a light snack just before bed can also help. If you find you don’t fall asleep within 20-30 minutes, don’t lie in bed tossing and turning; instead get up, go into another room and read until you feel sleepy.

Don’t check the clock

Tallying how much sleep you’re losing can create anxiety and make it harder to fall asleep.

And finally, take notes.

If you can’t stop the stream of thoughts, get up and write them down. Tell yourself you can check the list in the morning, so there’s no need to keep worrying tonight.

Good night…

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Pollyanna Hale Health and Lifestyle coaches
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