Simple Tips to Maintain Better Sleep Hygiene: What to do If You Can’t Sleep


We are using the term ‘sleep hygiene’ synonymously with quality of sleep.  These simple tips to maintain better sleep hygiene will improve the quality of you sleep and help you feel more refreshed and carry out the daily tasks in your life mo0re effectively.  Sometimes you sleep may be affected by illness or certain medications. However, if you follow the five tips below then you should find it easier to sleep, and your quality of sleep should improve.

  1.  Maintain a Regular Sleep Cycle

A regular cycle of bedtimes and wake-up times gets your body clock into a regular routine that you will find easy to follow. If you go to bed and rise in the morning at all sorts of different times, then you are sure to have problems with sleep.  The maintenance of a regular cycle of sleeping and waking enables you to wake up a lot more refreshed each morning.

Sure, it’s tempting to stay awake later into the night at weekends, and it’s likely OK to this one day – Friday or Saturday nights for example.  However, if you have sleep issues, then be sensible about this and try to maintain as consistent a cycle as you can.

  1.  Prepare for Sleep and Avoid Stimulants Just Before Bedtime

If you prepare properly for sleep by relaxing and winding down as bedtime approaches, you should be able to get to sleep much easier.  Coffee, tea, sugary soft drinks and nicotine tend to stimulate you and keep you awake. Alcohol can make you feel tired for a short while, but you will soon wake up and find it difficult to get back to sleep.  If you want to sleep better, then avoid these things shortly before bed time.

If you like a bedtime drink then chocolate or malted drinks would be better for you.  You are more likely to sleep quicker and longer with a cup of hot chocolate as a night-time drink than a cup of coffee or a Red Bull! Here is how various drinks compare regarding caffeine content – and remember that caffeine keeps you awake!  

The standard volume taken for the comparison is the 250ml (8 oz) can of Red Bull. The figures provided are for the average of the caffeine content in 250ml (8oz) of a number of different brands

  • Red Bull: 80 mg caffeine
  • Instant Coffee:  79 mg
  • Filtered Coffee:   90 mg
  • Black Tea:  63 mg
  • Cocoa Drink: 6 mg
  • Ovaltine:  0 mg

So you may as well be drinking the Red Bull energy drink before going to bed as drinking coffee or tea. Tea might be better, but the figure for cocoa explains why this is regarded as an excellent bedtime drink.  If you prefer it, Ovaltine and other malt drinks contain no caffeine.

By avoiding drinking stimulants such as coffee and tea just before you go to bed, you are more likely to get to sleep quicker and to get a deeper sleep.

  1.  Use a Comfortable Mattress: Maintain Better Sleep Hygiene by Sleeping in Comfort

You will increase the likelihood of sleeping and feeling refreshed on wakening if you have a comfortable mattress.  Start by choosing a mattress you feel comfortable lying on. Look for properties such as cooling (a hot mattress can keep awake at night), comfort (some like memory foam while other prefer something springier such as poly foam or latex over an innerspring support base.

Choose a mattress that offers you a test period if possible.  Some allow 50 to 200 nights test period, and if you don’t like the mattress you can return it for a full refund.  Also help your mattress top last longer by rotating or flipping. One of the best ways to protect mattress and keep your mattress clean is using a good mattress topper, it feels like you got a new mattress every time you change or wash them. You can maintain better sleep hygiene by doing this every 2-3 months. Not all mattresses can be flipped, but they can all usually be rotated.  This helps to even out the wear on the foam and springs. If you do this as a matter of routine then your mattress should last longer. You can’t beat a good, comfortable mattress for a restful sleep.

  1.  Wind Down and Forget the Clock

Those who sleep best tend to be able to wind down at bedtime and not get into bed charged up and put the lights out – it won’t work!  If you are finding it difficult to get to sleep then have a bath, relax and read a book or listen to some soothing music (Andy Williams rather than Hendrix). Don’t worry about work, don’t watch TV movies and don’t plan your day for tomorrow while in bed.  These will only keep you awake. Meditation is a good cure for sleeplessness and worth considering if your problem is a serious one.

  1.  Exercise and Remain Stress Free

Yes, it’s easy said – but it does work.  If you don’t expend enough energy during the day in the course of your normal activities, then it is likely that you will find that sleep does not come easy. Sleep is nature’s way of recharging your batteries, and is you don’t use any energy then your batteries won’t need charging.

What that means is that if your daily life is generally sedentary then you may not expend enough energy to help you sleep. Your occupation may not give you the opportunity to expend energy during your day. In that case, there are other ways to use up your excess energy, such as joining a gym or taking up a sport.

Alternatively, get on a bicycle and start pedaling. Cycling is a great way to lose weight – and it helps you sleep at night! Follow these simple tips to maintain better sleep hygiene and you should have trouble sleeping again.