Twelve tips for healthy sleep' written in white on blue background

Twelve Tips for Healthy Sleep

19 March 2018

To celebrate World Sleep Day, we're looking in to how to improve both the quantitiy and quality of the sleep wwe get. Below, we sharesome valuable insights from one of our favourite books at the moment: Why We Sleep, The New Science of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker.

Getting enough sleep can help to reduce the risk developing Alzheimer’s, improve your immune system and blood sugar levels, and support you in achieving a healthier and longer life. Read on for some top tips on how to improve your health and well-being by ensuring you get the right amount of sleep.

1. Stick to a sleep schedule

Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. As creatures of habit, people have a hard time adjusting to changes in sleep patterns. Sleeping-in at the weekend won’t fully make up for a lack of sleep during the week and will make it harder to wake up early on Monday morning. Set an alarm for bedtime. Often we set an alarm for when it’s time to wake up but fail to do so for when it’s time to go to sleep. If there is only one piece of advice you remember and take from these twelve tips, this should be it.

sleep schedule

2. Exercise is great, but not too late in the day

Try to exercise at least thirty minutes on most days but not later than two to three hours before your bedtime.


3. Avoid caffeine and nicotine

Coffee, colas, certain teas, and chocolate contain the stimulant caffeine, and its effects can take as long as eight hours to wear off fully. Therefore, a cup of coffee in the late afternoon can make it hard for you to fall asleep at night. Nicotine is also a stimulant, often causing smokers to sleep only very lightly. In addition, smokers often wake up too early in the morning because of nicotine withdrawal.


4. Avoid alcoholic drinks before bed

Having a nightcap or alcoholic beverage before sleep may help you relax, but heavy use robs you of REM sleep, keeping you in the lighter stages of sleep. Heavy alcohol ingestion also may contribute to impairment in breathing at night. You also tend to wake up in the middle of the night when the effects of the alcohol have worn off.


5. Avoid large meals and beverages late at night

A light snack is okay, but a large meal can cause indigestion, which interferes with sleep. Drinking too many fluids at night can cause frequent awakenings to urinate.

healthy eating

6. If possible, avoid medicines that delay or disrupt your sleep

Some commonly prescribed heart, blood pressure, or asthma medications, as well as some over-the-counter and herbal remedies for coughs, colds, or allergies, can disrupt sleep patterns. If you have trouble sleeping, talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist to see whether any drugs you’re taking might be contributing to your insomnia and ask whether they can be taken at other times during the day or early in the evening.


7. Don't take naps after 3 p.m.

Naps can help make up for lost sleep, but late afternoon naps can make it harder to fall asleep at night.


8. Relax before bed

Don’t overschedule your day so that no time is left for unwinding. A relaxing activity, such as reading or listening to music, should be part of your bedtime ritual.


9. Take a hot bath before bed

The drop in body temperature after getting out of the bath may help you feel sleepy, and the bath can help you relax and slow down so you’re more ready to sleep.


10. Dark bedroom, cool bedroom, gadget-free bedroom

Get rid of anything in your bedroom that might distract you from sleep, such as noises, bright lights, an uncomfortable bed, or warm temperatures. You sleep better if the temperature in the room is kept on the cool side. A TV, cell phone, or computer in the bedroom can be a distraction and deprive you of needed sleep. Having a comfortable mattress and pillow can help promote a good night’s sleep. Individuals who have insomnia often watch the clock. Turn the clock’s face out of view so you don’t worry about the time while trying to fall asleep.

gadget free bedroom

11. Have the right sunlight exposure

Daylight is key to regulating daily sleep patterns. Try to get outside in natural sunlight for at least thirty minutes each day. If possible, wake up with the sun or use very bright lights in the morning. Sleep experts recommend that, if you have problems falling asleep, you should get an hour of exposure to morning sunlight and turn down the lights before bedtime.


12. Don't lie in bed awake

If you find yourself still awake after staying in bed for more than twenty minutes or if you are starting to feel anxious or worried, get up and do some relaxing activity until you feel sleepy. The anxiety of not being able to sleep can make it harder to fall asleep.

no sleep

So… why is MedicAlert talking about sleep?

Whilst most MedicAlert members won’t find that all, if any, of their health and medical requirements are completed resolved by sleep, it is clear from the above that so many benefits can be driven by good quality sleep and a regular sleep routine. These benefits can help to reduce the burden of many medical conditions on the body and the mind, as well as better equiping the body for recovery.

However, what is also clear is that whilst good sleep reduces stress levels, reduced stress levels in turn improve sleep quality. This is where MedicAlert comes in!

Whilst our primary aim is to keep people safe in emergencies, hundreds of our members get in touch every year to tell us how the service has provided them with peace of mind, a sense of security and increased confidence. There’s no doubt they are sleeping better at night.

If you want to know more about our service, click below or get in touch today on 01908 951 045.


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Matthew Walker is a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley and a sleep consultant for the NBA, NFL, British Premier League football teams, Pixar, government agencies, as well as well known tech and financial companies.

This article was last updated on 17-03-2021

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