This can help if:
- Your sleeping patterns are a bit all over the place
- You’re feeling tired
- You can’t focus during the day
Why a sleeping routine is useful
We’ve all been told over the course of our lives that a good night’s sleep is important – possibly to the point where we stop paying attention to the advice. Just because the advice is a little tired, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Research shows that adolescents and young adults need at least 7 - 9 hours of sleep a night, and getting into a good sleeping routine is the best way to make sure we get the hours we need on a regular basis.
People with a good sleeping routine and who get enough sleep have:
- Higher concentration levels
- Increased energy
- A better memory
On the other hand, when your sleeping routine is messed up it can have some pretty bad impacts on your physical and emotional health. Not only is it hard to concentrate, feel energised and remember things, but your sleeping pattern can also cause more serious mental health issues. Read about circadian rhythms for some interesting info.
How to get into a sleeping routine
If you think your sleeping routine could use a little help, there are two things you need to do. First, you need to set yourself some routine guidelines. Second, you need to put some strategies in place to help you sleep according to your guidelines.
Setting a routine
- Set yourself a time each night to go to bed
- Set yourself a time to get up each morning
- Avoid sleeping during the day
These three steps will help your body clock get into a rhythm and make sleeping feel more natural. It’s not always going to be possible to completely stick to it – things crop up, you might have random early mornings sometimes or a late night here and there. That’s okay – the point is that you stick to these guidelines whenever you don’t have a good reason not to (which should be most nights).
The exact time of when you go to bed/wake up isn’t so important, but there are a few things you need to consider:
- You should be aiming for between 7 and 9 hours sleep
- Your body needs a decent amount of bright light every day so it can produce certain (very important) brain chemicals
Putting yourself to sleep
Things you can do to help yourself sleep in the hours that you have chosen are:
- Take ten minutes before bed to process the day's thoughts and let go of them. It might help to talk to someone about your day, or write down your feelings.
- Learn mindfulness meditation. It’s a great way to stop you from going over what has happened, or is coming up, giving you the chance to relax.
- Take ten minutes before bed to process the day's events.
- Sleep in a well-ventilated room that’s not too hot or cold.
- Avoid too much exercise right before bed.
- Drink warm milk or chamomile tea before bed to calm your body.
- Avoid eating heavy meals late in the evening.
- Play soft, gentle music. Your heart follows music beats, meaning high energy music revs you up, and more peaceful music will help you unwind.
If you're having trouble getting into a sleeping routine.
Often if you’re stressed and anxious it can lead to sleeping problems, but as the stressful situation passes a more regular sleeping pattern should return. See the managing stress fact sheet
for more info on things you can do to overcome stress.
If you’ve been unable to sleep for a few weeks it’s worth taking a visit to your GP. They’ll be able to rule out any disorders, such as asthma, and help you figure out if anything serious is going on. Fixing a sleeping problem can be much easier and faster if you seek professional help.