When I work with clients we keep things simple, research shows that if we instil a habit before introducing another habit, we are more likely to sustain the change. So my suggestion for you is to try just one of these simple sleep ideas, make sure it’s properly in place before you move on to the next.

Simple changes introduced one at a time can change your health and your life. Half of the population over 65 suffers from sleep deprivation and here are some simple suggestions to help whether you’re under or over 65!

Sleep deprivation has also been shown to affect our mental health, increasing the possibility of anxiety and depression. It increases the risk of diabetes by causing insulin resistance and raised blood sugar levels. Insomnia may also be linked to heart disease so take note of these suggestions and try one tonight.


1. Make stress and sleep your friend

You may find this a weird concept however, it has been shown that if we embrace the feeling of excitement/nervousness that we experience when we are in a stressful situation it can change the way our body responds. Our stress response was designed for us to run away from a wild animal not to prepare us for meetings or presentations etc. Anxiety and stress are 2 of the most common causes of insomnia.

Try this simple exercise to start you off – when you are feeling heightened anxiety just say to yourself “There is no wild animal” and feel your body relax. I know, it’s amazing, keep it up and if you need to just say it again and again until your body relaxes.

2. Be aware of the way caffeine affects you and sleep

“But I love coffee”, I hear you say. Coffee has a real impact on many people’s sleep. If you are a big coffee drinker and you have issues sleeping then just start by reducing your coffee by one cup each day. It has a long half-life of 3-5 hours, which means that after 3-5 hours you still have 50% of the caffeine in your system and after 6-10 hours you have 25% still in your system. Some people even need to take care with decaff. Your average 8oz cup of decaffeinated coffee has about 7mg caffeine so if you
are sensitive to caffeine then even this could affect your sleep.

Try this – If you are a big coffee drinker and you have issues sleeping then just start by reducing your coffee by one cup each day.

3. Keep a regular sleep and wake time

Go with it, you may not believe how much difference it makes but I promise you, I’ve seen the results with clients and it’s life-changing. Our circadian rhythm is set on a loop and it likes regularity. If you have a late night at the weekends then just get back to your regular time and stick to it.

Try this – this is something you can start straight away, go to bed at the same time every night, pick a time that works for you, preferably before midnight! And stick to it.

4. Get outside first thing in the morning

Again this is to do with your body’s natural clock, your circadian rhythm. Exposure to bright light resets the circadian rhythm and the rhythm of melatonin. If you really can’t get outside then simply sit or stand at the window where there is the brightest light this will stimulate your natural melatonin resulting in improved sleep quality.

Try this – expose your eyes to morning light either at the window or outside, get out in the park, the garden or walk around the block. Preferably for about 15 minutes or more.

5. Write it down

Many of us struggle with an overactive mind when we are trying to sleep. Writing things down can try help to alleviate this. That way you are not worrying about remembering the things that you need to do. Get it written down. You may be able to do it before you get into bed, you may need to have the notebook by your bed and keep writing things until you stop whirring! Done on a regular basis this begins to be an amazing tool to both relax and be more efficient the next day.

Try this – Take out a notebook and pen and sit in a chair in your bedroom quietly to allow your mind to relax, very often all those things that need doing come into your head. Write them in your notebook. Then sit quietly again and repeat the process until your mind begins to calm. If you can then sit for 5 minutes so much the better, if not then get into bed now and relax.

Introduce a bedtime routine. Start with just one of these suggestions and once that is working for you begin the next. One thing at a time. If you’ve been suffering from insomnia for months or years then take time to build new habits and be patient.