How to get a better night’s sleep: the dos and don’ts according to The Sleep Geek

Sleep is vital for our physical and mental health, and getting a good amount every night will improve your mood, concentration, productivity and general performance.

It’s also linked to keeping your weight down, reducing your risk of heart disease and boosting your immunity.

But, amid the current coronavirus crisis, it’s been reported that many of us are struggling to get a good night’s sleep.

James Wilson, AKA The Sleep Geek, explains, “Sleep is the foundation for mental and physical recovery. REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is the deep sleep when we emotionally recover and that appears to be what many of us are missing out on right now. Understandably, that can have a big impact on our mood and make us more anxious about sleep. It’s a vicious cycle.”

Here, James reveals his top dos and don’ts for ensuring you get a solid night’s sleep.

The Dos

1. Create a routine that’s right for you and your circumstances now. This might mean going to bed a bit later, or earlier.

2. Watch, read or listen to something that is relaxing. Comedy is great as it relaxes us and produces endorphins which help in the production of melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate sleep and wake cycles. Reality TV can also help as it provides a perfect distraction from current events.

3. Get out in the natural light. It wakes us up and will help us battle the lethargy that many of us are suffering from at the moment. When you first rise in the morning, go into your garden for a bit, open a window or go into the room in your home with the most natural light. You’ll soon feel the benefit.

4. Take advantage of the hour you can exercise outside. It will help with lethargy and prepare you for sleep by making you more physically tired.

5. As you get closer to bedtime, reduce the amount of time you spend on blue screen devices. These include phones, tablets, computers and televisions. The blue light tells your body that it is still daytime and stops the production of melatonin.

6. Baths or showers are great. They help you to relax and they are also an indicator to your body that it is time for sleep. In terms of scent, some people really rate lavender to help them feel sleepy, but it’s a very personal choice. Find what works for you.

The Don’ts

1. Don’t nap during the day if you are struggling to sleep at night. Short naps are great for alertness and productivity, but they can steal our drive to sleep at night. If you want to nap, try to make it no longer than 30 minutes.

2. Avoid watching the news or talking about the coronavirus in the hours before bedtime. Many people are reporting more vivid dreams and a raised heart rate. Stressful viewing before turning in could be contributing to this.

3. Don’t work too close to bedtime. If you try to go to sleep straight after you finish working, the quality of sleep will be poor as your body has not transitioned from work to rest mode. Try to leave at least an hour and a half between finishing work and going to bed.

4. If you can’t get to sleep, don’t lie in bed tossing and turning. If you’re not asleep within 30 minutes, listen to something, such as an audio book, to allow your mind to wander.

5. Avoid putting too much pressure on your kids about their sleep. Keep a behavioural routine before bedtime but accept they may go to bed later than usual as they are less active during the day and don’t have to get up for the journey to school.

6. Don’t stress too much about your sleep. These are different times and we need to adjust to a new normal. Your sleep may change in terms of its quantity and quality. The more relaxed you are about it, the more likely you are to fall asleep and stay asleep.

For more information on James Wilson, aka The Sleep Geek, visit

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