Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Health and wellbeing

Sleep

Sleepy man reaching for alarm clock

Most adults need between 6 to 8 hours sleep per night to perform at their optimum level. Some people may sleep beyond this, but this is usually considered to be ‘optional sleep’ taken for pleasure.

On the other hand, many people may find themselves struggling to get enough sleep, and this can have negative impacts on health and wellbeing, ranging from poor concentration to difficulty interpreting emotion.

By having some useful tips to hand, this will help you to achieve the right balance and ensure your sleep is of good quality. This will benefit multiple areas of your working and home life.

Top tips for sleep

If you are finding it difficult to get to sleep, or the sleep you get does not seem beneficial, here are some helpful hints of how to enter quality sleep.

  • Make a list of the things on your mind. This makes it easier to relax as they won’t be forgotten and you’ll have a fresh mind for dealing with them in the morning.
  • Avoid late night working. Stop working well before bed, otherwise sleep onset is likely to be delayed.
  • Don’t just lie there. If you can’t sleep go to another room and do something distracting and absorbing, which doesn’t involve work. Reading a book or newspaper is helpful.
  • Have a hot bath. The heat from the water will raise your body temperature which helps sleep onset. Exercising during the day may have a similar effect.
  • Avoid bright lights. This has an alerting effect on your body through its influence on the control of sleep hormones.
  • Avoid too much alcohol before bed. Drinking can feel like it knocks you out, but it can also prevent you passing into the beneficial deep sleep stage.
  • Avoid caffeine in the evenings. Avoid taking max strength pain-killers, coffee or energy drinks at least two hours before bed.
  • Think about your environment. You mustn’t be uncomfortable, too hot or cold, or surrounded by noise.
  • Talk to someone. Both difficulty sleeping and morning tiredness could be symptoms of stress, and can be alleviated by addressing this.

Find out more elsewhere on this website:

Medical problems

If problems with excessive daytime sleepiness or being unable to sleep, persist over a long period, there may be an underlying cause.

It is best to seek professional advice from your GP, Local Health Service.

You can also find information online with BBC Science - Sleep or Insomniacs.

Loughborough University is home to a UK leading, internationally recognised Centre for Sleep Research.

Read their latest findings and get answers to popular questions, including dream facts at the Sleep Research Centre website.

Key messages from the Sleep Research Centre

  • The best recipe for a good night’s sleep is a short walk in a stimulating environment, followed by a hot bath.
  • If you take a daytime nap, limit it to 20 minutes. This should give sufficient boost, but beyond this will make you feel groggy when you wake up.
  • Driving whilst feeling sleepy is even more dangerous than drink driving and is a criminal offence. Check the fact and recommended cures behind this with Driver Sleepiness article.