People may worry about not getting enough sleep, but worrying often makes it worse. It’s easy to over estimate how much sleep you need, or not to realise it’s normal to wake briefly each night. The occasional bad patch is harmless and usually rights itself. It is only of concern if it’s been going on longer than a month.

  1. Establish a regular routine. Go to bed only when you’re tired and get up at the same time each day. Avoid napping during the day.
  2. Check your sleeping arrangements. Think about comfort, temperature, light and noise levels.
  3. Learn to de-stress before bed. Dismiss nagging thoughts by writing them down.
  4. Have a warm bath, practise a relaxation technique, or listen to a relaxation tape (but don’t read or watch television in bed).
  5. Get enough exercise. Fit people sleep better.
  6. Don’t stay in bed. If you can’t sleep, get up after 20 minutes and go through your relaxation routine again.
  7. Try out complementary remedies. Yoga, meditation, homeopathy or herbal remedies, such aslavender or valerian, may help.
  8. Keep a sleep diary. This helps you identify potential causes for your sleeplessness.
  9. Use strategies. Try some reverse psychology: keep your eyes open and tell yourself to resist sleep. Interrupt unwanted thoughts: repeat a soothing word to yourself. Visualise a scene or landscape that has pleasant memories for you.
  10. Talk to your GP. Sleeping pills present problems, but a brief course is sometimes appropriate. Ask about talking treatments, such as CBT, or referral to a sleep laboratory.

Breathe deeply, counting slowly up to four as you breathe in, hold for another four seconds and then breathe out slowly. Consciously tense and relax your muscles, in turn, starting at your toes and workingup your body.

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