1242 GMT March 27, 2019
Stick to a regular bedtime routine
The buzz phrase is sleep hygiene, meaning don’t do anything during the day that might inhibit your sleep later on, and slow down at bedtime. So avoid naps, and go to bed and get up at roughly the same time each day. Enjoy your night-time routine: have a hot bath (it raises your body temperature, which helps you nod off), switch off your devices at least 40 minutes before you turn in, read a book, play soothing music or listen to a ‘nodcast’.
Don’t check the clock
Part of what keeps us awake at night is stress about being awake. So resist the temptation to clock-watch, which can make you anxious: instead, luxuriate in feeling comfortable, safe and warm. Revisit happy memories and tell yourself that you will still function fine tomorrow.
If you really can’t sleep, get up
If you often lie awake for more than half an hour, either when you first go to bed or if you wake in the night, get up and make yourself comfortable somewhere else with a book or some music. Return to bed when you feel tired — this will help you associate bed with sleep and not with wakefulness.
Get the Sleepio App
Available on the NHS if you live in the home counties, and in other areas of the south east from early 2019, Sleepio is a digital program based on cognitive behavioral therapy that helps you discover your ideal personal sleep pattern. Designed to help reduce dependence on sleeping pills, research has shown it can help more than 75 percent of insomnia sufferers achieve normal sleep. If you live outside these areas, it will cost you £15.40 a month.
Keep a sleep diary
Record your sleep habits over a fortnight: when you go to bed, how long it takes you to sleep, whether you wake in the night. Look for patterns you can change — maybe you sleep best when you’ve exercised. A sleep diary can also help a doctor pinpoint what’s wrong. If all else fails, get checked out: insomnia is linked with depression, and for some people sleep disruption is an early sign.