If you have difficulty falling asleep, a regular bedtime routine will help you wind down and prepare for bed.

Few people manage to stick to strict bedtime routines. This is not much of a problem for most people, but for people with insomnia, irregular sleeping hours are unhelpful.

Your routine depends on what works for you, but the most important thing is working out a routine and sticking to it.

Sleep at regular times

First of all, keep regular sleeping hours. This programmes the brain and internal body clock to get used to a set routine.

Most adults need between 6 and 9 hours of sleep every night. By working out what time you need to wake up, you can set a regular bedtime schedule.

It is also important to try and wake up at the same time every day. While it may seem like a good idea to try to catch up on sleep after a bad night, doing so on a regular basis can also disrupt your sleep routine.

Make sure you wind down

Winding down is a critical stage in preparing for bed. There are lots of ways to relax:

  • a warm bath (not hot) will help your body reach a temperature that’s ideal for rest
  • writing “to do” lists for the next day can organise your thoughts and clear your mind of any distractions
  • relaxation exercises, such as light yoga stretches, help to relax the muscles. Do not exercise vigorously, as it will have the opposite effect
  • relaxation CDs work by using a carefully narrated script, gentle hypnotic music and sound effects to relax you
  • reading a book or listening to the radio relaxes the mind by distracting it
  • there are a number of apps designed to help with sleep. See the NHS Apps Library
  • avoid using smartphones, tablets or other electronic devices for an hour or so before you go to bed as the light from the screen on these devices may have a negative effect on sleep

If you need more ideas, you can get help and advice from a GP.

The sleepstation website also provides a range of useful articles and resources designed to aid sleep.

You should also contact your GP if you have insomnia that lasts for more than 4 weeks.

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