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There are countless books and websites out there telling you how to sleep better. There are no golden rules for good sleep but there are some guiding principles.

  1. Your bedroom should be dark, quiet and cool and you should have a comfortable bed.
  2. The bedroom should be strongly associated with sleep: that means no TV, no computer and no work in the bedroom.
  3. Listen to your body and only go to bed when you are sleepy.
  4. If you haven’t fallen asleep within about 30 minutes at the start of the night, get up and go back to bed when you feel sleepy (if you wake up in the middle of the night and don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes or so, do the same).
  5. Don’t clock watch: if you know what time it is, then your eyes are open when you should be trying to sleep.
  6. Try to have a regular bedtime and wake up time.
  7. Don’t worry about your sleep and don’t try to go to sleep. The harder you try to sleep the less likely you are to fall asleep.
  8. Try to spend at least 30 minutes winding down before bed.

But here is the single most important guiding principle.

To get good sleep you need a quiet mind and a relaxed body. So try to find something that calms you down and just do it. It could be drinking herbal tea, it could be doing yoga, it might even be listening to loud music. Just remember that what works for you won’t necessarily work for anyone else!

DoctorNeil

Dr. Neil Stanley

Dr Neil Stanley is an independent sleep expert who has been involved in research for over 35 years. After starting out at the R.A.F. Institute of Aviation Medicine, he moved on to the University of Surrey's Human Psychopharmacology Research Unit, where he was Director of Sleep Research. Today, he travels the world lecturing on various aspects of sleep to both healthcare professionals and the public at large.