by Jim Aberdein, Human Givens Therapist

There may be a number of ways you can help yourself get a better night’s rest.

Try to:

Go to bed earlier even if you don’t think you will sleep, if you normally go to bed very late and always wake up tired

Avoid drinking caffeinated tea or coffee late in the evening.

Avoid drinking too much alcohol.

Having a drink or several in the evening may seem as if it helps, because you may fall asleep quicker when you do go to bed, but you are quite likely to wake in the middle of the night, once the alcohol has been metabolised and your body is in withdrawal

Do something relaxing before bedtime.

Avoid taking any exercise or exerting yourself within two hours of planning to go to sleep, as this is likely to keep you awake. But do exercise earlier in the day or evening.

Have a milky drink or camomile tea before bedtime.

Sleep on a comfortable mattress.

It might be that yours has become worn and a bit saggy, even without your realising it 

Block out as much light from the bedroom as you can.

Thick curtains or blackout curtains or blinds can be a highly effective means of preventing being woken by light

Use the bedroom primarily for sleep.

If you have spent a lot of time in bed because of illness, injury or pain, you might be accustomed to using your bedroom more like a living room, routinely watching television in it, receiving visitors, reading newspapers and magazines or listening to music.

Doing anything before sleep that keeps your brain alert is not going to be helpful. So soothing music may be good but loud, fast music with an insistent beat is not. Having sex is fine, however – sex discharges energy and so doesn’t stop you from sleeping afterwards.

Block out noise. Wear earplugs, if your partner snores or if outside noise disturbs you

Make sure your bedroom is at a comfortable temperature to sleep in at night. Ensure, too, that you are not too hot or too cold in bed.

Spray some lavender around the bed or use a lavender pillow, as the scent may help to induce sleep.

Stay awake all day.

Do not nap at lunchtime or at any time when you suddenly might feel sleepy, even though you probably feel anxious to grab any sleep that you can.

Eliminate anxious thoughts.

These will keep you awake. Use one of the many methods for inducing relaxation and then take yourself off in your imagination to a peaceful, beautiful, quiet place. Say to yourself, every so often that “sooner rather than later, I can drift off into a sound refreshing sleep”

Make remaining awake at night unrewarding.

People who can’t sleep all too often get up and have something to eat or drink or decide to read a book or watch a film while in bed. But then the brain learns that it is worthwhile to keep waking at night because something pleasant will happen.

It is a better idea to do something that isn’t stimulating and rewarding (that is where the idea of counting sheep came from). Try imagining your room and counting from memory every item in it that begins with an ‘a’, a ‘b’ and so on.

If you feel you have to get up, do some (quiet) tedious task that you don’t enjoy doing, so that the brain will be very ready to start switching off again and let you get sleepy. Make sure that it is a task that you can abandon, and then go straight back to bed when you feel tired.

Tips for a Better Night's Sleep, by Jim Aberdein