Your best sleep yet top expertbacked tips 1260x542

Your best sleep yet: top expert-backed tips

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Ditch dodgy nights—sleep soundly with these slumber ideas from health professionals, writes Rosie Brogan.

Get the right gear

“I can’t stress the importance of a good mattress. For a start, the better the mattress, the better your sleep is likely to be. Don’t skimp on quality. And firm is good - a firm mattress will help to keep your spine aligned and your back in good shape. Your pillow is also important - keep away from the huge, comfy cushions, though, and choose a firm one that isn’t too high. Your head should align with the rest of your body when you’re lying down. See your local chiropractic clinic for a high quality, therapeutic pillow.”

- Andrew May, Productivity expert and author of Flip the Switch: Why Performance Increases When You Play Hard And Recover Even Harder.

Tip: If you often wake up with neck and back pain, you might be sleeping on your stomach - this slumber position can make you twist your head quite drastically to one side. Try sleeping on your side or back instead.

Create a pre-sleep routine

“Begin a ‘wind-down’ about one hour before you want to go to sleep. Make this hour relaxing, and as much as possible, follow the same routine each night. Appropriate activities include having a warm bath or a cup of herbal tea, practicing relaxation techniques, reading or listening to some quiet music.”

- Professor Tim Sharp, founder of The Happiness Institute.

Tip: If you wake up in the middle of the night and start eyeballing the clock, this only makes things worse! Avoid building anxiety by keeping your sights off the time.

Don’t miss the wave

“Waves of sleep come every 75 to 90 minutes and last for 10 minutes approximately. It is important to work to your body’s rhythm and let the wave pick you up and take you when it arrives. Missing the wave makes it difficult and frustrating to try to sleep before the next wave has come. Often when we try to get to the end of television show or book chapter we push through the wave and miss it.”

- Dr Craig Hassed, author of The Essence of Health: The Seven Pillars Of Wellbeing.

Tip: If you’re having trouble falling asleep once you’ve hit the sack, get up after 20 minutes - do something restful, such as reading, before the next ‘wave’ arrives.

Make your room a sleep oasis

“Use your bedroom for sleeping and sexual activities only. Get rid of the TV and don’t use the bed as a place to spread out the household accounts. Your body and mind need to view this room as a place of relaxation and peace.”

- Tammy Farrell, nutritionist, registered nurse and author of The Real Man’s Tool Box: A DIY Manual for Men.

Tip: Make sure you catch some rays of sun during the day - this helps to regulate your body clock. Farrell advises that five minutes a day is all you need.

Write down worrisome thoughts

“If something is troubling you and there is nothing you can do about it right away, try writing it down before going to bed and then tell yourself to deal with it tomorrow.”

- The Royal College of Psychiatrists, UK

Tip: After a bad night’s sleep, don't sleep in the next morning. This just makes it harder to fall sleep the following night. Stick to regular times for going to sleep and waking up.

References available on request