Struggling to sleep? Six tips to help you doze off

For some people getting to sleep is a nightmare. Having struggled with insomnia for more than 10 years, I'm sharing my top tips to nod off in support of Sleep Awareness Week 2015. 

While most people will experience feeling tired from time to time, a regular lack of sleep can quickly become a serious problem. Whether you are studying, at work or trying to socialise, your mood will be dampened, your temper quickened and your cognitive abilities dramatically reduced… not an ideal situation.

Here are my top tips on getting some sleep:


Energy drinks

1. Avoid caffeine at all costs

Personally I don’t drink coffee as (unlike most people) I can’t stand the smell of it. However, I am completely addicted to fizzy drinks and I've noticed that the amount of Coke I drink in a day can massively affect my sleep at night. 

If you are having trouble sleeping you should try to avoid any caffeine at all four to six hours before bed. However, it's best not to consume any caffeine after lunchtime as it also builds up throughout the day - potentially staying in your system for up to 14 hours.

Sleepy cat

2. Make your bed heavenly

I have often found myself tossing and turning at night, finding it completely impossible to get comfortable - obviously this is going to hinder getting to sleep! You might not be able to change your bed (the memory of my bed at uni still haunts me) but it is worth investing in the bits you can change. Try purchasing a mattress topper (these can be found in supermarkets for just £12), a super-soft set of quilted sheets, pillows that are comfy and supportive and a huge squishy duvet (always a winner!). If you associate your bed with discomfort your mind won’t relate it to relaxation, which makes getting to sleep all the more tricky.


3. Routine, routine, routine

Forget about lavender oil and warm bubble baths, routine is the real secret to beating sleeping difficulties. It might seem blindingly obvious, but once I started working a 9-5 my body clock was forced to assume a pattern. University can be tough for keeping to a routine with a mixture of late nights and afternoon lectures allowing for lengthy lie-ins, but set your alarm for the same time every morning and force yourself out of bed. You will thank yourself when you drop off to sleep peacefully that night. 


4. Detox from your day

One of the most common reasons for sleep disorders is stress. With essay deadlines, bills to pay, relationship conflicts and endless reading to keep up with, stress is an unavoidable part of student life. Although it might seem productive to work through the night, it is much more effective to set aside some time for yourself to wind down before bed and detox from your day. If you’re feeling worried or stressed, grab a piece of paper and scribble down everything that is on your mind. If it’s on the paper it’s not trapped in your mind. A lot of people worry while they are lying in bed trying to sleep - so keep a notepad handy!

Alan Partridge

5. The joys of audiobooks

This is a new discovery that was recommended to me by a fellow troubled sleeper and I have found to be a godsend. My favourite audiobook to listen to in bed is Alan Partridge’s ‘I Partridge: We Need to Talk About Alan’ which I find perfect for nodding off. Popping on a Ricky Gervais podcast is also great: the humour can be distracting from any worrying you are doing while trying to sleep.


Zen frog

6. Unwind with meditation

If you feel like you have tried everything and are still struggling to sleep, I highly recommend going on YouTube and trying a bit of beginner’s meditation. You don’t need to be sitting cross legged in a temple in Bali for meditation to help you, simply lie down in bed, make yourself comfortable and play the video from your phone. Absorbing yourself in the process of relaxing all the muscles of your body helps you gradually shut off and fall into a relaxing, natural sleep. It is also great practice for mindfulness so meditation is a good one to remember during exam time! 

You can read more about sleep awareness at the National Sleep Foundation website here: 

Share your tips for a great night’s sleep in our sleepyheads thread here: