5 Tips to Improve Sleep

By Jessica Darvell (Psychologist). MPsych(Clin.),GradDipPsych, BCom/BSc.

It’s very common to worry about your sleep: “I keep waking up, I can’t fall asleep, I can’t stay asleep, I’m always tired”. Research by the Sleep Health Foundation (https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/) has found 33 to 45 per cent of Australian adults sleep either poorly or not long enough most nights. As we all know, this can lead to irritability, problems with decision making, lack of motivation and concentration and fatigue among other things.

In some situations sleep difficulties are indicative and linked to common mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. In these situations it is recommend people seek help from a professional such as their GP or a psychologist.

5 tips for a better nights rest

  1. Bed is for Sleep – We make associations between spaces and activities, the aim here is to associate our bed with sleep. If we use our bed for things other than sleep or sex we will not make this connection. So watching TV, checking your phone, reading over tomorrow’s papers, social media, studying and so on are best done somewhere else.
  2. Get Active – Research has found being active and getting sun light during daytime hours improves sleep at night. Morning walks are a great way to start the day and improve our body clock. Try to avoid exercise 4 hours prior to bedtime.
  3. Wakeup Routine – Try to get up at the same time every day, even on weekends! This helps to keep a regular rhythm and keep our body clock on track.
  4. Bedtime Routine – Create a routine for yourself around bedtime. This may include a wind down ritual such as having a bath or shower 1 hour prior to bed, and doing some relaxation or breathing exercises in the lead up time to your sleep. Choose something that calms you.
  5. Avoid Alcohol, Caffeine and Nicotine – research shows that while some people think alcohol may help to make you sleepy, it doesn’t keep you asleep as it interrupts the quality of sleep. Likewise nicotine and caffeine are stimulants and are recommended to avoid 4-6 hours prior to going to bed.


Often managing sleep difficulties on your own can be difficult and seeking professional help is a good idea. Speak with your GP, or contact Jessica to discuss this further.


Some more helpful resources:

Sleep Health Foundation https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/
Lifeline: 13 11 14 or www.lifeline.org.au
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636or www.beyondblue.org.au/

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