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Sleep is vital to learning. It restores your brain's inbox, enabling you to process information and create new memories.  It also boosts your immune system—we produce more antibodies with a good night’s sleep.

Guidelines for a good night's sleep

These are suggestions to help improve both the quality and amount of your sleep. If the list seems daunting, choose a few that seem most relevant or manageable and try them over a week or so. Don’t expect instant results.

  • Exercise during the day, preferably in the late afternoon, before you eat. Twenty minutes of aerobic exercise (e.g., running, skipping, aerobics) or 45 mins of brisk walking will do.

  • Go to bed and get up at regular times, even if you’re still tired when you get up. Don’t have erratic times of going to bed and getting up. Initially getting up half an hour earlier in the morning may help you sleep that night.

  • Don’t try to make yourself sleepy. If you don’t get to sleep after 20-30 minutes in bed, leave your bed and find a relaxing activity such as listening to a relaxation tape, having a milky drink or herb tea, reading a novel and don’t go back to bed until you’re sleepy.

  • Avoid heavy meals immediately before going to bed and avoid going to bed hungry. A small snack such as a milky drink, a banana or toast before bed may help.

  • Avoid heavy alcohol amounts before bed time. Though it may appear to help you sleep, you are likely to wake earlier and not feel refreshed.

  • Tune down during the last hour or two of the day, and avoid active exercise, mental activity (study) or emotional upset.

  • Cut down caffeine and nicotine as much as possible. Avoid drinking coffee after lunchtime.

  • Develop a sleep ritual before bedtime. Repeat some activity every night before you get into bed, such as a hot shower or bath before bedtime may help you relax or read a book (not study) or listen to music.

  • For relaxing tense muscles or an over-active mind use specific relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation or guided visualisation. There are many relaxation tapes on the market. Take time to find one that you like.

  • Avoid non sleep activities in bed such as studying or watching TV to strengthen the association between bed and sleeping, unless these activities are part of your sleep ritual.

  • If you having nagging, worrying thoughts, write them down and deal with them in the morning – have paper and pen ready by the bed.

  • Avoid napping during the day.

  • If you are easily disturbed by noise, consider using ear plugs.

  • Make sure you are warm enough. Being too hot or too cold may affect your sleep.

  • Don’t be frightened of insomnia. Accept the times you sleep less well. You can still function, even on only 2-3 hours sleep. The less you fight or worry about sleeplessness the more it will go away.

  • If pain stops you sleeping consider painkillers rather than sleeping pills – seek your doctor’s advice.

Depression, anxiety and other emotional problems can cause sleeplessness. Consider consulting your doctor, the counselling service or someone else who can give you emotional support and listen to you.


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