Top tips for a good night’s sleep

Dr Alanna Hare
By Dr Alanna Hare     15/03/2024

World Sleep Day is an annual awareness day to call attention to the impact sleep has on our overall health. 

We have been diagnosing and treating adult patients with sleep disorders for over 20 years at Royal Brompton Hospital and our service for sleep-related problems is one of the largest in Europe. 

Royal Brompton Hospital has an international reputation for its work with patients experiencing sleep disorders, and for its pioneering work in domiciliary ventilation (providing respiratory support at home).

This World Sleep Day, we spoke with Dr Alanna Hare, a consultant in sleep and ventilation at Royal Brompton Hospital and President of the British Sleep Society, who gave us some advice on how to get a good night’s sleep.

  1. Have a schedule and stick to it! A regular bedtime and getting up time strengthens the brain’s 24 hour clock, helping you fall asleep more reliably and wake more refreshed. Try to stick to the same times at least five days a week with no more than two consecutive days off schedule
  2. Give yourself enough time to sleep. Most adults need seven to nine hours sleep per night. Less than that and you will be more irritable, less able to cope with challenges in your daily life or work, struggle with your relationships and be more likely to experience low mood and anxiety
  3. Wind down before bed. A period of winding down without emails or social media for at least 30 minutes before bedtime gives your body and brain a signal that it is time to go to sleep, meaning you are more likely to be prepared for sleep when you turn out the lights
  4. Schedule in some “worry time”. Use this time to plan your tasks for the next day or think about things which make you feel anxious. It can help to write a list of things that are troubling you and write an action plan for each. Online Constructive Worry charts can be helpful
  5. Stop “trying” to sleep! Sleep is not a voluntary activity but an automatic process. Distraction techniques like counting back from 1,000 in 7s can help distract your mind from actively trying to fall asleep, so that sleep can happen automatically and naturally

This year, the theme for World Sleep Day is Sleep Equity for Global Health, which draws particular attention to the measurable differences in sleep health across populations across the world which creates additional burdens and reinforces health inequities. To find out more, visit the World Sleep Society website.