It's sometimes hard to know whether we're getting enough sleep. Some people seem to survive on four hours, while others need longer to feel truly rested.


But how much sleep do we really need? And how do we ensure we get a good night's sleep?

It can be tricky to unwind after a busy day and stop worrying about life, but there are lots of ways to prepare for bed to ensure a good night's sleep.

Make sure you shut off your computer and phones and take some time to relax before bed. Why not try using a hobby to settle down in the evening? Pick something that keeps your hands busy while allowing your mind to drift, whether it's colouring, knitting, crochet or papercutting, it's all good.

Read a book (steer clear of thrillers though, you don't want to have nightmares).

Exercise can help you sleep well, but only if you do it during the day. Avoid exercising in the evening if you can.

Try to keep your bedroom just for sleep and only go there when you're ready to rest! Read on for more sleep tips...

Why can't I sleep? Listen to the In The Moment Magazine podcast with sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan

In the episode, sleep specialist Dr Nerina Ramlakhan shares her tips to help you improve your sleep quality and get more rest.

Listen to the podcast on Apple Podcasts/iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher and most major podcast providers, or online above.

How much sleep do we really need? (Photo by Annie Spratt)

11 tips for a good night's sleep

  1. Keep a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and getting up around the same time each day.
  2. Have a bedroom environment conducive to sleep: quiet, dark, comfortable temperature (slightly cool is probably better than warm).
  3. Exercise during the day may aid sleep; exercise in the evening may be disturbing to sleep.
  4. Avoid heavy meals around bedtime. Do not use stimulating substances such as caffeine or nicotine near bedtime.
  5. Do not take alcohol to help sleep. Any benefits in going off to sleep are usually of less importance than the awakenings it produces in the second half of the night.
  6. Allow time in the evening to relax. Do not work right up until bedtime and then jump into bed expecting to sleep.
  7. Switch off electronic devices before bed.
  8. Don't lie in bed if you can't sleep — get and go into another room and don't return until you feel sleepy. That way, you'll only associate your bedroom with sleep.
  9. Make sure your room isn't too hot or cold.
  10. Regulate your sleeping patterns so that you always go to bed and rise at the same time.
  11. Take a warm bath before bed.
How much sleep do you really need

Here are a few facts about sleep that you might not know...


Sleep is in the genes

Some people are naturally long sleepers and some are short sleepers, according to Wallace B Mendelson, author of The Science of Sleep: "Well-known figures such as Napoleon, Thomas Edison, and Margaret Thatcher are said to have gotten by with relatively short sleep, while others including Einstein were reported to sleep longer than average."


Long sleepers are more creative

Yes, you read that right. Studies have shown that if you spend more time in bed (over 9 hours!), you're more likely to be a creative individual. As if we needed an excuse for a lie-in!

Wallace says people who sleep less than 6 hours are "more hard-working, conventional in their standards, and less artistic than long sleepers ".


Want to have a good night's sleep? Go to Australia

Sleep varies depending on your nationality. The Japanese manage around 7 hours and 14 minutes per night, Brits get 8 hours and 23 minutes, Americans sleep for 8 hours and 27 minutes, but the Aussies sleep for 8 hours and 31 minutes on average!


Your age determines the amount of sleep you need

Newborns need up to 16 hours a day, but this decreases as children get older. By the time you hit your teens, you need 9-10 hours per night, which drops to 7-8 hours when you reach adulthood.


You spend a third of your life sleeping

Humans spend around a third of their lives asleep! Make sure your bedroom is really comfy, because you're going to be spending a lot of time there.


Sleep deprivation can make you depressed

Sleep deprivation can affect your mental health and make you more prone depression, as well as a string of other health problems including diabetes, hypertension and obesity.

Take our sleep hygiene quiz


Photography by Annie Spratt, Hernan Sanchez, Nomao Saeki and Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash.

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