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10 ways to get a solid night's sleep

Lose the snooze button with these great tips


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health


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If you’re having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep every night, it can get pretty frustrating. It can also impact other aspects of your life and health, including your mental health.

There are a lot of myths and misinformation about sleep, so sometimes it can be hard to know what to do to improve your sleep. Don’t panic though - there are loads of simple and easy things you can do to improve the length and quality of your sleep.

How do I know if I’m getting enough sleep?

Experts now say that most people need somewhere between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night, but this varies for everyone. Depending on your age, lifestyle, diet, and other personal things, you might need more or less sleep. Some people can’t function without at least 10 hours, whereas some people will be ready to go at 6 hours. Only you can really decide if you’re getting enough sleep or not.

There are a couple of things you can use to measure if you’re getting enough sleep:

  • Do I struggle to get up when my first alarm goes off?
  • Do I need to lie in on the weekend to catch up on sleep?
  • Do I feel moody and sleepy in the mornings?
  • Is it hard to concentrate and focus during the day?
  • Is it hard to remember things?

If the answer to any of these is yes, you may not be getting enough sleep.

10 tips for improving your sleep

If you're having a hard time getting to sleep at night and want to change some of your habits, here are 10 things you can try:

1. Create a sleep schedule and stick to it

Going to bed and getting up at the same time every night will do wonders for your sleep.

2. Create a bedtime ritual

Every night before going to bed, do something that relaxes you. Keep away from your email or phone, because they will distract you and keep you awake. You can even try some relaxation and mindfulness techniques.

3. Manage your stress

This can be very difficult to overcome, but there are things you can do to help yourself. Try chatting to others about your worries and if you’re finding it hard to cope, don’t be afraid to look for help. Many people also find it helpful to write down their problems. Some people keep a notebook beside their bed and jot down any worries or thoughts that are stressing them out and keeping them from sleeping. Learn more about dealing with stress.

4. Get some exercise

Regular exercise during the day can be a miracle worker for good quality sleep. However, try not to exercise up to two hours before bed, because this can have the opposite effect! If you've never exercised before and aren't sure where to get started, check out these 10 ways to get fit without the gym.

5. Only use your bed for sleeping and sex

Don’t bring work, reading or TV to bed. If sleeping is an issue for you, experts recommend only using your bedroom for sleeping and sex. So don’t lie there for three hours tossing and turning, or stay up late working in your room - get up and do a soothing activity.

6. Make your bedroom as quiet and dark as possible

Use a blackout blind and wear earplugs. In the evening time, try to keep the lights low and avoid exposing yourself to harsh light. Avoid looking at your phone or computer for at least an hour before bed and keep your actual bedroom as dark as possible. That means unplugging any bright alarm clocks.

7. Manage your naps

Naps can be a great energy booster during the day, but try to have them earlier in the afternoon and limit them to around 20 minutes. Remember though, if you have insomnia or other more serious sleep issues, it's not recommended that you nap during the day. 

8. Don’t eat too late

If you eat too late, this could keep you up at night. Try to have your meals a little earlier

9. Limit alcohol and smoking before bed

Alcohol can definitely make you sleepy, but it can also interfere with sleep, so that you never get proper deep sleep. Don’t smoke or drink alcohol for a few hours before bed. Read more about things that affect sleep.

10. Be careful with caffeine

Caffeine keeps you awake and alert, and stays in the body for up to 8 hours, so if you have issues sleeping, you should have your last cup of tea or coffee by 2pm at the latest.

Still having sleep problems?

If your sleep problems persist, you should go to your doctor to discuss it. Sleep problems are very common and normal, and your doctor will be able to advise you on what you should do. If you’re not sure what you should say to your doctor, check out our article how to talk to your doctor about sleep.

Feeling overwhelmed or want to talk to someone right now?

If you are a customer of the 48 or An Post network or cannot get through using the ‘50808’ short code please text HELLO to 086 1800 280 (standard message rates may apply). Some smaller networks do not support short codes like ‘50808’

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Published April 26th2015
Last updated Octo­ber 2nd2018
Tags sleep health mental health
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.
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