How to get a good night's sleep

Most people need more than seven hours of sleep a night. If you're not getting this, there are tactics you can use to help. You can also work through them with a doctor or other health professional.

This could be useful if:

  • You're often unable to sleep 
  • The strategies you normally use to get to sleep aren't working
  • You're interested in finding a good sleeping routine
  • You want to help a friend with sleep problems
Couple sleeping in bed on a single pillow

Sleep problems

Most people need between seven and nine hours sleep a night. Depression, anxiety, medication and other factors can mean that you don't get the sleep you need. To find out more about reasons people find it hard to sleep, check out our factsheet on sleeping issues.

Getting good sleep

The following is a list of tips and tools a lot of people find helpful in getting good sleep:
  • Stick to a routine of waking at the same time every day, and going to bed at the same time each night.
  • Lay off the alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine before bed, as they can make it harder to get to sleep, or cause your sleep to be disrupted. 
  • Try to reduce your TV or computer time in the evenings – artificial light can trick your body into staying awake. 
  • Try not to nap during the day, as this'll make it harder to sleep in the evening. 
  • Exercise first thing in the morning, outdoors. Sunlight can help reset your body clock.
  • Learn relaxation and meditation techniques to help you switch you mind off in the evenings.
They've been tried and tested, but not all of them will work for everyone. If you're really struggling, the best and easiest way to work out how to get sleep is by working with a doctor, counsellor, psychologist or sleep specialist.

Getting good help

If you're finding it difficult to sleep, and that the tactics you're trying aren't working, talk to your doctor about strategies. A doctor or other health professional can work with you to amend your routine, diet, exercise, medication and thinking until you arrive at something that works.

What can I do now?

  • Exercise in the morning but not in the evening.
  • Avoid stimulants like coffee or cola.
  • Talk to your doctor if it’s becoming a problem.
Last reviewed: 06 August, 2015
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  • Gabi    (1295 days ago)

    Hi InsomniacsAnnon

    That really sucks that you are having so much trouble getting into a regular sleeping pattern! You said you were on medication so I am assuming you have spoken to a doctor about what's going on.... I wonder if you've been back to tell him/her about the medication's side effects that you experienced and whether they have been able to prescribe anything else for you? If you have already done this but it hasn't worked, perhaps asking to be referred to a specialist might be a good idea.

    It must have been so overwhelming to all of a sudden have so much time awake in the day time on those meds when usually you get none of it! But I think like anything, adjusting to a sudden change that is as huge as that would take a lot of time. So if you do get on some different medication or work with your doctor to find a solution to your sleeping troubles, just remember that it may take even a few months for you to adjust properly. And that even after you have adjusted just to be awake during the day, it will take more time after that to establish a routine with friends, what to do when you run errands and just how to spend your free time in general. So please don't be discouraged, keep trying to adjust and eventually it will happen!

    Sorry I couldn't be much help as I haven't experienced what you are going through, but I hope this helps even a little bit!


  • InsomniacsAnnon    (1299 days ago)

    I can't sleep at night but instead I sleep all day. It's very frustrating for myself and anyone who knows me. I found one medication combo that worked but caused such grief with the side effects that it wasn't worth continuing. I am missing out on life as this has been going on a long time to the point in fact that whilst the meds were working I found myself bored throughout the day with so much time on my hands and feeling almost like an alien trying to adjust to the amount of daylight I was witnessing.