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Turn down, chill out, drop off: 10 Active Steps to better sleep

Posted Apr 07 2010 5:55am

There are many practical ideas we can try out to help bring on better sleep. Here are 10 to experiment with. Have a go at one and see how it works for you. If it works, keep doing it. Perhaps then you might try another one out...


Daytime routines

1. Talk yourself up

Try not to catastrophise when talking about your sleep. Talk up your abilities to get a good night’s sleep and you will feel more able and relaxed at bedtime.

2. Increase your daytime exercise

Whether this means walking places instead of driving/taking public transport, fitting in a jog, going to the gym or playing tennis or football after work – increasing your exercise will be beneficial for your mind and body, and help you sleep better too.

Early evening routines

3. Lay of the caffeine and nicotine

Have a break from caffeinated coffees, teas or soft drinks for at least 3 hours before bedtime. Like caffeine, nicotine is also a stimulant so try not to smoke just before bed (or in bed!)

4. Write out a list/plan your day

Empty and clear your head of any jobs (work, family, personal) you have to do ‘tomorrow’.   Doing a rough plan of your day can help cut through the fear of the unexpected.

5. Relax an hour before bed

Try allowing yourself an hour before bedtime to unwind. Have a break from computers, phones and TV’s – turn them off. Do something more relaxing like have a long soak, chat to a friend or partner, or read a good book.

6. Foods that help you sleep

Foods containing the amino acid tryptophan can help you sleep, as well as calcium. Specifically, try a glass of warm milk (full of calcium), a banana (potassium, magnesium and tryptophan) or some wholemeal toast or oatmeal (to trigger insulin release and help you feel happy, and sleepy). You can take melatonin as a sleep enhancing vitamin supplement.



7. Get up and go to sleep the same times (even weekends)

Making ‘bedtime’ and ‘waketime’ the same, even on weekends if possible, will help you get into a rhythm with your sleep. Your body will start to feel tired before you normally go to sleep and wake you up without the need for an alarm clock.

8. Read something trashy, escapist

It may help relax you not to read something too ‘personal’ before sleep. Not associating with the text may help your brain – and you – relax.


Night-time tips

9. Lavender

Experiment with a lavender ball or a few drops of lavender oil underneath your pillow. Research has shown lavender to promote relaxation and improve quality of sleep.

10. Don’t panic!

Try and remember/tell yourself that no matter what, it is not the end of the world if you have no or next to no sleep – you will be able to function the next day, even if it’s a little tougher than normal.


For 25 Active Steps to better sleep, please visit


I hope you find some of these ideas helpful

Sweet dreams





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