Guest post by Dr. Neil Stanley, Aromatherapy Associates Sleep Wellbeing Ambassador

There are countless books and websites telling us how to get better sleep, however, it seems that they are all endlessly repeating the same ‘sleep hygiene’ advice. I believe that it is up to each individual to find the way that works best for them. There aren’t 10 golden rules for good sleep, but there are some guiding principles.

  1. Your bedroom should be dark, quiet, cool and you should have a comfortable bed
  2. The bedroom should be strongly associated with sleep, thus if you are asleep you should be in your bedroom and if you’re not asleep you shouldn’t be. That means no TV, no computer, and no work in the bedroom!
  3. Go to bed only when you are sleepy. Listen to your body rather than going to bed because the programme on TV has finished, or because your significant other wants to go to bed, etc.
  4. If you haven’t fallen asleep within 30 minutes at the start of the night, get up and go back to bed again when you are sleepy. If you wake up in the middle of the night and don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes do the same
  5. Don’t watch the clock. If you know what time it is then you have your eyes open which means you're not trying to fall asleep
  6. Try to have a regular wake up time, 7 days a week
  7. Don’t worry about your sleep and don’t force yourself to go to sleep. The harder you try the less likely you are to get quality rest
  8. Try spending at least 30 minutes winding down before bed. This includes avoiding any TV, tablet or phone screens

This is starting to look dangerously like a list of 10 rules to good sleep! So here is, in my mind, the single most important guiding principle:

In order to get good sleep you need a quiet mind and a relaxed body.

A quiet mind is the most important part of this because if your mind is active or stressed you are less likely to fall asleep. Your wind-down ritual should quiet the mind and relax the body – it doesn't matter what it is as long you enjoy doing it. If aromatherapy quiets your mind then use it, if yoga relaxes your body then do that, if listening to Pink Floyd achieves both then listen to it. Find what works for you and do it. Remember, you cannot find sleep you have to let sleep find you.