The ultimate dos and don’ts for a good night’s sleep

The struggle for a good night’s sleep is not age specific. But it often increases in later life.

Why can ageing make it harder to get to sleep and to stay that way?

One theory is it’s all in the brain. That neurons regulating our sleep slowly die as we get older. As a result, the brain fails to pick up the ‘time to sleep’ signals.

And it matters, because getting enough sleep is as vital as healthy eating and getting exercise. Here are just three things a lack of sleep can do to you –

  • Increase your appetite – and thus your waistline, damage your health – including causing pre-diabetes
  • Impair your immune function – more colds
  • Reduce your ability to interact socially – by making you irritable, lessening your ability to concentrate and think clearly

What can be done to help you get the zzzzzzzs you need? Here come 20 do’s and 10 don’ts to speed your journey to the land of nod.


20 ways to get a better night’s sleep

For the best results, work at the following over a period of time. You may need two to four weeks to see the best results.

  1. Go to bed only when sleepy.
  2. Use the bed only for sleeping — and that other thing.
  3. If you can’t sleep, move to another room. Stay up until you feel sleepy and then return to bed. If sleep does not come get out of bed again. The aim is to associate your bed with falling asleep easily. Repeat this as often as necessary throughout the night.
  4. Set the alarm and get up at the same time every morning, regardless of how much you have slept through the night.
  5. Take some exercise in the late afternoon or early evening.
  6. Drink herbal tea.
  7. Get a massage.
  8. Try consuming foods just before bed time that have tryptophan — like turkey, bananas, salmon, cherry juice, Cocoa.
  9. Sleep on a good firm bed.
  10. Don’t sleep in.
  11. Spend 20 minutes in a hot bath not long before going to bed.
  12. Keep the room temperature as constant as you can.
  13. Drink a glass of warm milk — as milk contains an amino acid that converts to a sleep-enhancing compound in the brain.
  14. Use simple relaxation and mind clearing exercises.
  15. Keep a note pad by the bed to write down things that come to mind that you worry you might forget.
  16. Go to bed at the same time each day.
  17. Get regular exercise each day.
  18. Keep the bedroom quiet when sleeping – and use a good make of ear plugs.
  19. Keep the bedroom dark enough. Use dark blinds or wear an eye mask if needed.
  20. When you go to bed, relax your muscles, beginning with your feet and working your way up to your head.

10 things not to do before going to bed

  1. Don’t exercise just before going to bed.
  2. Do not nap excessively during the daytime.
  3. Avoid ‘trying to sleep’.
  4. Avoid illuminated bedroom clocks.
  5. Don’t watch a computer or tablet screen for the period leading up to going to sleep
  6. Don’t stimulate your mind just before bedtime through things like playing a competitive game of cards or watching an exciting TV programme.
  7. Avoid caffeine. Remember caffeine is present in chocolate, as well as regular coffee or tea, and caffeinated soft drinks.
  8. Don’t read or watch television in bed.
  9. Don’t use alcohol to help you sleep.
  10. Don’t take another person’s sleeping pills.

For a bigger picture on the issue of sleep, including chronic insomnia, go to our web page on Sleep.

With the way life can be for some having an impact on sleep, check out our web page on Stress.

Peter Meadows

Peter uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and spend his kids inheritance.

Do you have a tip on how to get a better night’s sleep? Please join the AfterWorkNet Facebook community and tell us.



The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years"

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife