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4 changes to make to your day for a better night’s sleep

When it comes to sleeping like a baby, what you do during the day is just as important as what you do at night. Struggling to sleep at night? The answer might just lie in your waking hours. Leading a healthy lifestyle and forming sleep-friendly daytime habits could improve the quality and quantity of sleep you’re getting. Here are a few smart changes you can make to your daily routine to help ensure a good night’s rest.

A woman sitting on a platform bed in a room with various plants for decoration.
A woman sitting on a platform bed in a room with various plants for decoration.
Don’t drink more than two or three caffeinated drinks a day, and switch to decaf or herbal alternatives from 3pm onwards

Dr Guy Meadows, Sleep School

A cup of coffee between two hands.

Lay off the coffee

Caffeine makes us more alert by blocking adenosine, a brain chemical that makes us feel sleepy as the day goes by. The effects of it can take six to 12 hours to wear off completely, so consuming caffeine shortly before going to bed risks making it harder to fall asleep and reducing sleep quality.

Red wine being poured into a wine glass.

And watch your alcohol intake

Contrary to popular belief, alcohol doesn’t actually help us get a good night’s sleep. While alcohol can act as a sedative and make us fall asleep quicker, it also acts as a stimulant. So if you’ve been drinking, your sleep will be lighter and more easily disturbed. When drinking in the evening, bear in mind that it generally takes an hour for the body to metabolise one unit of alcohol (a single measure of spirits).

A woman and a man stretching after exercising.

Get regular exercise

Exercise helps us drift off faster and promotes deeper, more restful sleep. It does this by boosting the sleepy brain chemical adenosine and releasing endorphins, the so-called ‘happy hormones’ that aid physical and mental relaxation. Exercising too late in the day, however, can make it harder to get to sleep, as it raises your core body temperature and increases stress hormones. The ideal time to get moving is between 4pm and 6pm.

A woman and man sitting at a black dining table eating a meal.

You are what you eat

Like caffeine, certain foods can keep us awake. Curb your overall intake of sugary stimulants, like chocolate, and avoid them after 3pm. Eat foods containing sleepy chemicals (e.g. tryptophan, serotonin, melatonin, magnesium and calcium) such as oats, pumpkin seeds, almonds, tofu, chicken, turkey, and milk. And aim to leave at least two hours between your last meal or snack, and going to sleep.

For more sleep inspiration and tips on how to improve your bedroom environment, visit our dedicated sleep hub.