Help yourself to sleep.

Sleep problems are common. They can start for all sorts of reasons e.g. stress, shift work, a new baby or health or pain problems. But there are ways that you can improve your sleep pattern. Click on the green boxes below or download our factsheet.

  • Buying a bed

    Do you and your partner roll towards each other unintentionally? Is your bed too small to give an undisturbed night’s sleep?

    Do not rush into buying a bed. Do you need to replace the complete bed or only the mattress? If you are only buying a mattress do make sure that you test it on an equivalent base to your own whilst in the show room.

  • Daytime naps

    Sleeping during the day is not generally helpful when you have a sleep problem as it can affect your sleep pattern.

    However, if pain wakes you frequently a shorter, better ‘quality’ sleep at night may be helpful. If it suits your routine you can supplement this with a short daytime nap. If you do, this nap should be no longer than 20 minutes and taken no later than early afternoon otherwise it will affect your ability to sleep at night.

  • The bedroom and sleep


    For people who sleep well, the bed and bedroom act as a signal to feel sleepy and to fall asleep quickly. For people who have problems sleeping, the bed and bedroom may have become a signal for other activities such as watching TV, lying awake, worrying or feeling frustrated about not sleeping.

    Learn to associate the bedroom only with sleep and sex.

    Do not use the bedroom for work related tasks or leisure activities such as watching TV.

    Being comfortable

    You spend a large part of your time in bed. So make sure that your bed is as comfortable as it can be. 

    Check that the mattress is OK and that the pillows are right for you.

    Make sure that the bedroom is a comfortable temperature, slightly cooler is better than too warm.

    Your bedroom should be peaceful, if you cannot get rid of outside noise, consider using earplugs.

  • The bedtime routine

    Many of the things that people do in the few hours before they go to bed can interfere with a good night’s sleep. If you are having trouble with sleep, the following can help:  

    Establish a sleep routine. Get up at the same time every morning and go to bed at the same time every evening. This helps to keep your body clock regular. Do this regardless of how much sleep you have had.
    Have a 'wind down' time the hour before going to bed rather than rushing about.
    A warm bath before bed can be helpful as it helps you to relax and get your body at a good temperature for sleep.
    Vigorous physical exercise (apart from sex) just before going to be isn't helpful as it raises the body temperature too much.]
    So carry out your exercises earlier in the day.
    Alcohol, caffiene, and nicotiune are all stimulants and can disrupt your sleep. Cut out smoking in th evening and if possible consider stopping. Avoid tea, coffee, ecxcessive alocohol and drinks which contain caffeine and chocolate.
    Avoid eating large meals up to 3 hours before bedtime. Digestion raises the body temperative which is not conducive to sleep.
    Use your relaxation skills (see Relaxation section).
    Do you find taking medication for pain before going to bed helpful? If so, do this at the same time every night and not according to your pain levels that day.
  • Worry and sleep

    Worry can get in the way of sleep. It is common to worry about not being able to sleep, which in itself can make the problem worse. It is also common to lie awake at night worrying about particular problems, and they often seem worse at night. This is not helpful.

    Remember, the bedroom is for sleep and sex only.

    Try to set aside a time to deal with worries earlier in the day.

    Write down the problem and what you are planning to do about it.

    If worries still bother you during the night, it can be helpful to jot them down on a piece of paper at the side of the bed and then “disown” them until tomorrow when you can consider them more clearly.

  • Still can't get to sleep?

    Still cannot get to sleep or back to sleep?

    If after 20 minutes in bed you cannot get to sleep, or you have woken in the night and cannot get back to sleep – GET UP.

    Go into another room and do something else that is quiet.

    Go back to bed only when you feel sleepy.

    Initially it may feel as if you are spending more time getting up than asleep. However, you are doing this so that your brain learns to associate the bedroom with sleep and not with tossing and turning and getting frustrated. In the long term this technique should help you establish a better sleep pattern.