Tips for better sleep

Did you know sleeping 60 to 90 minutes more per night can make you happier and healthier? If you would like to learn more about how to improve your sleeping habits, keep reading!

We all know we should do more of it, and crucial to all significant brain and bodily functions. But when it comes to it, do we actually get enough time between the sheets?

Now, don't be smutty! I'm talking about how to sleep better! 

I'm writing this post for my own benefit as much as anyone else's. If anyone needs to take this advice, it's me!
What follows is what I aspire to do even as I sit in front of my computer at midnight, knowing I'll be woken before 7am by my 3 yr old daughter...

1. Allow 7-9 Hours Of Sleep Time Per Night

Some people need more sleep than others, but the National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours for an average adult. 

2. Turn Off All Devices At Least An Hour Before Bed

We should all know by now that technology before bed is a bad idea. Yet we still find ourselves checking messages, online shopping, playing computer games or browsing the internet at bedtime! 

A Sleep in America® poll by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) found "Artificial light exposure between dusk and the time we go to bed at night suppresses the release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, enhances alertness and shifts circadian rhythms to a later hour—making it more difficult to fall asleep". 

So staring at a screen before bedtime tricks our brain into being as alert as if it were daytime. We need to shut down the devices at least an hour before we intend on going to bed. 

3. Have a Routine & Stick To It

Our bodies and minds respond exceptionally well to routine. Formulating a sleep routine is a great way to develop better sleeping habits. The advice is to start by getting up earlier rather than chasing the extra few minutes you can grasp before you absolutely must get up. The (apparently proven) theory is that eventually, you start falling asleep earlier too.  

Set a time in your head to BEGIN getting ready for bed. Allow time to do all the things you need to do before getting into bed and give yourself a cut off for actually getting into bed. If you want to be asleep by 11pm, for example, you probably need to be starting this routine at 9.30 - 10pm. (I tell myself unrealistically!) 

4. Use A Lavender Bag Or Lavender Essential Oil

I grew up with a lavender bag at my bedside, made by my mum, so the scent for me has the added soothing properties of cosy memories. 

Wheat Warmers from Blue Badge Co in a row

Research has proved that Lavender can, indeed, promote better sleep. Use a few drops of essential oil or a pillow mist on your pillowcase. You could put a scented lavender bag under your pillow and hang it near you. Breathe in the soothing scent to relax your mind and help you to drift off. 

5. When It's Not Your Fault!

Sometimes it's external influences that get in the way of a good night's sleep. If you can't change where you sleep or what goes on around you, you may be able to change something to help you clock up some extra zzz's...

Wear Ear Plugs

I started wearing earplugs and an eye mask as a student when I was up all night (writing essays, of course!) and needing to catch up on sleep in the mornings. I experimented with various kinds and found the foam ones to be the best. If you've ever tried them without success, the trick is in the positioning. 

You need to roll them up to make a tight point at the end before inserting them. Hold your ear near the top and pull up; now, quickly push the earplug in before it expands. Hold the earplug in place by gently pressing it into your ear as it grows. Adjust for comfort; if it's in too far, it will hurt. If it's not in far enough, it will pop out.

 Now enjoy a peaceful night's sleep wherever you are! The great thing is you will still be able to hear the most critical noises, such as the smoke alarm, but all other sound becomes muffled and irrelevant. 

Another tip, when removing earplugs, don't pull them straight out. Squash them against the side of your ear to break the seal before pulling!  

6. Wear An Eye Mask

Here, we have an absolute favourite to recommend! Our sister brand signature lavender filled velvet Velvet Eye Masks in William Morris designs. The super-soft velvet lining is comfortable on the eyelids, and the elasticated velvet headband keeps it gently in position. Filled with natural lavender grains, the mask has a satisfying weight to it that feels restful in itself. 

Add to that the heavenly scent of Lavender, and sleep is just a whisper away... 

You can cool it in the freezer to relieve the pain of tired or dry eyes.

7. Don't Go To Bed With An Over-Full Or Empty Stomach.

If you go to bed full up, your body is busy digesting and produces many gastric acids. You don't want this in your oesophagus! If you lie down too soon after a big meal, it can cause acid reflux. Too much acid in the oesophagus too often could potentially cause long term damage. 

Going to sleep hungry can also keep you awake! 

Eating a healthy snack sometime between dinner & bedtime is actually a good idea. Avoid protein, apparently healthy carbohydrates eaten with good fats are best for rest. Some examples are banana & avocado, sweet potato & coconut oil, berries & cream. Cut Down, Or Cut Out,  

8. Caffeine!

Easier said than done, I know! Personally, I'm a sucker for a strong black coffee at about 10am every day. If I have guests or feel indulgent, I'll make frothy milk to go with it and sprinkle cinnamon on top. That's after my early morning cup of tea in bed and before the 2 or three other cups of tea, I'll have with neighbours or my husband after work... However, I regularly cut down then cut out caffeine for several weeks to stop things from getting out of hand! 

That coffee turns into two, the number of teas escalates... So I reign myself in, and the many benefits are clear, most notably better sleep. I'm off caffeine now as it happens, only 2 days in so far, and I'm genuinely enjoying some heavenly herbal teas from PukkaWrite Down Your To-Do. 

9. List To Clear Your Mind

Now this one I can do. I find it a beneficial way of stopping my mind from racing around, fretting about everything to remember to do the next day. Simply write down anything that is playing on your mind at bedtime, and rest assured that you won't have forgotten whatever it is in the morning.

10. Be Active During The Day

Exercising early in the day can help your body to relax easier at bedtime. Apparently, the ideal type of sleep-friendly exercise is 20 mins of cardiovascular workout several hours before bed. You might think working out makes you tired and would be a perfect way to end the day but exercising too soon before bed can be overstimulating. Try to get active earlier on and leave at least 3 hours of wind down time before hitting the hay. 

Further Reading

For a comprehensive, informative guide with even more tips on how to improve your sleep, visit A Sleepy Wolf.


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