Dr Neil Stanley Independent Sleep Expert
© Dr. Neil Stanley 2013-2024
112 Sleep tips from my Twitter @drneilstanley 1. ‘Uberman’ or polyphasic sleep may help you through short-term extreme situations but it is really not a sensible way to live. 2. 24hr nicotine patches may disturb sleep as you don’t usually take nicotine overnight. 3. A 20 minute ‘power nap’ can help boost your mental performance if you feel sleepy during the day. 4. A 6ft bed should be the minimum for two adults to comfortably sleep in. 5. A basic prerequisite for good sleep is a quiet mind, so anything that quietens the mind will help prepare you for sleep. 6. A lack of some micro-nutrients can affect sleep so make sure you have a healthy, balanced diet. 7. A large meal or too much fatty food late in the evening with makes it more difficult for you to get good sleep. 8. A nice warm bath before bed will not only help you to relax but will also helps you fall asleep. 9. A power nap is good for booting your performance but you can even get some benefit from just shutting your eyes for 10 minutes. 10. Alcohol can make snoring worse or may cause snoring in those who don’t usually snore. 11. Alcohol may disturb your sleep but do not worry about having a small nightcap before bed. 12. Alcohol, although it can help you fall asleep, may disturb your sleep in the latter part of the night. 13. Always try to have at least a 30 minute wind-down before bed. 14. An electric blanket is a good way of heating up the bed but you should not really need to keep it on overnight. 15. Anything that cognitively arouses you, even counting sheep, can make it more difficult for you to fall asleep. 16. As the nights get colder wearing bed socks has been shown to help you sleep. 17. Avoid doing strenuous exercise late in the evening, however if you do exercise make sure you completely wind-down before bed. 18. Avoid working in the hour before bed and no checking your email just before lights out. 19. Bedclothes made from natural fibres can play a role in helping you regulate your temperature during the night. 20. Bedding made from natural fibres will wick away moisture during the night and thus will help make you feel more comfortable. 21. Blue light before bed, such as that from a TV, computer or phone, suppresses melatonin and thus may disturb sleep 22. Buy the biggest, most comfortable, bed that you can afford. 23. Caffeine takes 30 minutes to exert its effects, so by the time you feel you should take it, it may be too late. 24. Cannabis use has been shown to lead to poor sleep. 25. CBT-I, ACT, mindfulness; the ‘system’ is much less important than the desire to change your sleep for the better. 26. Change your bed whenever it becomes uncomfortable. 27. Despite recommendations a banana before bed is probably not going to have any benefit for sleep. 28. Do not ‘clock watch’; you have to have your eyes closed to fall asleep! 29. Do not use caffeine to increase your alertness when already alert or just before bedtime 30. Don’t go to bed hungry, if you want have a plain snack, e.g. a slice of toast, before bed. 31. Empty you bladder one last time just before you switch out the light. 32. Even in winter a cool, but not cold, bedroom will aid sleep. 33. Even small amounts of light in the bedroom can disturb sleep. 34. Even the absence of sound, e.g. not hearing your child, can be meaningful and disturb your sleep. 35. Even the best sleepers will have periods of time when they do not sleep well, especially around developmental milestones. 36. Exercise can indirectly aid sleep because it is a good way of being awake during the day, best in fresh air and sunlight. 37. Exercise per se does not help you get to sleep, physical tiredness is not the same as being sleepy. 38. Foods that upset your stomach may cause poor sleep, not spicy foods per se. 39. For many people it is not “I can’t sleep” but rather “I feel I can’t sleep” 40. For many people who snore losing some weight will help reduce snoring. 41. Fresh air is good for sleep so if possible sleep with a window slightly open. 42. Go to bed when you feel sleepy, whatever the time. 43. Have a fixed wake up time each day, this allows the body to prepare itself to wake up. 44. Have a pad and pen beside your bed to write down any worries you have and then you won’t have stay awake worrying about them. 45. Have your big evening meal 3-4 hours before bed time to give your body time to digest it. 46. Having a regular bedtime routine will help you sleep, the more relaxing and pleasurable the better. 47. If a sleepwalker is going to do something dangerous to themselves or others then wake them up immediately. 48. If in the night you have been awake tossing and turning for more than 20 minutes try getting out of bed, going back when you are sleepy. 49. If something is relaxing for your mind then it will help you sleep, even if it is listening to Pink Floyd really loudly. 50. If there is something you want to watch on TV but you are sleepy, just record it and go to bed. 51. If you are going to let your dog sleep on your bed at least train it to obey the command ‘get off the bed’ 52. If you are sleeping well at night and feeling good in the day then what ever you are doing don’t change it. 53. If you believe, prayer is a very good way of quieting your mind before bed. 54. If you don’t get good sleep tonight then all things being equal you will probably get a good night tomorrow night. 55. If you feel sleepy during the day, you are probably not getting the sleep you need during the night. 56. If you find it difficult to sleep during the hot weather try using a desk fan to blow air across you during the night. 57. If you have enough sleep at night you should not need to nap during the day. 58. If you have had good sleep you should feel refreshed and rested in the morning. 59. If you have poor sleep at home but sleep well when you are on holiday your sleep problem is probably related to your lifestyle. 60. If you know what position you are in when you are asleep, you are not asleep! 61. If you nap for too long during the day it will make good sleep at night harder to achieve. 62. If your bedroom is flooded by sunlight a simple alternative to blackout blinds are a pair of eye shades. 63. Intimacy, because it makes you feel safe and secure, will put you in the right frame of mind for sleep. 64. It does not matter how physically tired you are if you do not have a quiet mind you will find it hard to fall asleep. 65. It is better to set your alarm for the time you have to get up and then get up, than to press the ‘snooze’ button. 66. Jet-lag – Daylight is the strongest signal for adaptation so go out for a walk and get some fresh air. 67. Jet-lag – Eat your food at the correct ‘local’ time even if it is just a snack. 68. Jet-lag – Sleep according to the ‘local’ time. Adjust your watch as soon as you get on the plane. 69. Limit naps to about 30 – 45 minutes including the time it takes to fall asleep, naps of 15 – 20 mins are most restorative. 70. Listening to your favourite music may help you fall asleep. 71. Make sure you do not dehydrate over night, always have a glass of water beside your bed. 72. Meditation, although extremely restful and relaxing, cannot replace sleep. 73. Napping at work could help boost your productivity but equally why should your employer help you recover from your partying? 74. Nicotine is a stimulant, so may disturb sleep. 75. No particular food is known to have any explicit benefit in helping you sleep. 76. Noise will disturb you sleep if it is meaningful because your mind attends to it because it thinks it is important. 77. None of the available sleep apps for smart phones are particularly accurate and certainly should not be relied upon. 78. Pets, although very cute, can disturb your sleep so be strong and keep them out of the bedroom. 79. Pillows are as essential to your comfort during the night as a good mattress, so get the right ones for you. 80. Sensitivity to the effects of caffeine can vary; if you are sensitive then it would probably be best to avoid it after 2pm. 81. Simple rule for jet-lag - If it is light when you get there stay awake, if it is dark then go to bed. 82. Sleep need is genetically determined. You can no more train yourself to need less sleep than you could train yourself to be taller. 83. Sleep need is like height, we are all different, some people are naturally short sleepers and others are long sleepers. 84. Sleep should not be a chore, it should be a pleasure. 85. Sleep well, live better 86. Sleeping separately does not necessarily mean there is a problem with your relationship, whereas lack of intimacy probably does. 87. Snoring can disrupt sleep even though the snorer does not necessarily feel that their sleep is disturbed. 88. So you don’t disturb your bed-partner consider, if possible, using a bathroom other than the en-suite for your toilet visits. 89. Some people find herbal teas a good alternative to caffeinated drinks in the evening. 90. Some people find reading a good way to wind down at the end of the day. 91. Some people who are bothered by noise during the night use the sound of a fan to mask the annoying noises. 92. Some smells, such as lavender, have been said to aid sleep but if you don’t like a particular smell it isn’t going to help you sleep. 93. Spend time at the end of the day resolving problems and dealing with worries before getting into bed. 94. Sunlight tells the body that it is daytime, so heavy curtains will help you sleep when it is light outside. 95. Switching the TV off, having a pee and brushing your teeth is really not the best pre-sleep wind-down. 96. The amount of caffeine in coffee can vary widely, so you may not be getting the ‘boost’ that you expect. 97. The best way to get a good night’s sleep is to be awake during the day. 98. The harder you try to fall asleep the less likely you are to do so. 99. There are no ‘golden’ rules or ‘Top 10 Tips’ for good sleep. You have to find what works for you. 100. There is a big difference between getting 4 hours sleep and genetically needing only 4 hours sleep. 101. Use a night light to guide you to the bathroom if you frequently get up to go to the toilet during the night. 102. When you sleep you need to lose some body heat, so a warm bed but a cool room will help you get better sleep. 103. While caffeine may help boost performance a 20 minute nap is more effective. 104. While they contain no magic ingredient, a hot milky drink before bed could help you fall asleep. 105. White noise can be used to mask more annoying sounds and thus might be able to aid sleep. 106. With jet-lag it takes about 1 day per time zone changed to adapt. 107. You can only have good sleep if you feel safe and secure. 108. You cannot ‘bank’ sleep; you need to get good sleep each night. 109. You cannot find sleep you must let sleep find you. 110. You cannot 'train' yourself to need less sleep, any more than a tall man can 'train' themselves to be short. 111. Your bedroom should be a sanctuary devoted to sleep not your office, games room or cinema. 112. Your granny was right when she said don’t go to bed angry.