How to Sleep Well at Night

how to sleep well

I had the best night’s sleep last night, better than I’ve had for ages.

Want to know how? (Oh, it doesn’t have to do with reclining on a sunlounger in tropical Bali, although I wish it did!)

Sleep is hard to come by

I don’t know about you but sleep these days is disturbed, interrupted and very often minimal especially between the hours of about 2am to 4am.

Now if you’d have told me that when I was in my younger years of coping with screaming babies and a husband snoring, I would have said:

“Not possible stoopid! I don’t get nearly enough sleep. But if I’m woken I can fall asleep the moment my head touches the pillow. No need to tell me How to Sleep Well!”

But not anymore.  Everything’s changed, and I don’t sleep well.

And don’t you hate it, when you know you’re tired, you want to sleep, but something (I call it the ‘unamed dread’) is keeping you awake?

It’s like …

Me: Oh please let me sleep

Brain: No, let’s stay awake and dissect that stupid decision you made, and every crass thing you’ve said recently.

Me: Okay then.

How to sleep well – What worked for me

Anyway, last night was different. I slept from 10pm until 5.30am and woke up feeling so refreshed and without that horrible feeling of gritty eyes.

Here are 10 things that worked for me.

  1. I remembered to take my vitamin pills in the morning, and had half a Berocca too.
  2. I exercised – I went spinning at the gym at 6am. {You might also like: How to be more active without really trying}
  3. I walked for half an hour in the sunshine after lunch.
  4. I ate regularly;  three small meals and two snacks throughout the day, including a light dinner containing all the food groups.
  5. I had no wine with dinner, and no water after 7pm.
  6. There was no chocolate in the house so I ate no chocolate whilst watching TV!
  7. I had a herbal tea (African Rooibos) at 8pm with a gingernut biscuit. (You might like to try Chamomile tea).
  8. I read a novel (definitely not my iPad or anything related to blogging) for half an hour, in bed, before I put my head on the pillow.
  9. I turned off, and made sure that the light from my electronic appliances, such as my iPad and cell phone was not blinking at me – I put them in the office instead.
  10. I spent 10 minutes during the day enjoying our garden and thinking about all the things I was grateful for.
How to sleep well, by Jo Castro

Don’t know about you, but I don’t have a snail’s sleeping tendencies as I grow older!

Tips from others for a Good Night’s Sleep

  • Make your bedroom as dark as possible and make sure the temperature is cool.
  • Don’t fall asleep in front of the TV.
  • Think of sleep as ‘me’ time – not as a luxury, but as a healing process.
  • If you wake up in the night, don’t lie there for hours fretting. After about half an hour, get up, walk around, read a book, have a herbal tea. Then go back to bed and try again.I’ve read our bodies thrive on daily routine. So it’s important to wake up, go to bed, and eat meals at regular times because this lets your body, your hormones and your brain chemicals get into rhythm and function at their best.
  • Learn some relaxation techniques so that if you wake up you can practice them. Exercise every day (preferably earlier when it promotes energy) because it’s proven to help you sleep sounder.
  • Petrea King in Your Life Matters suggests spending 10 minutes reviewing your day before you get into bed. Revisit conversations and activities and take note of anything forgotten or overlooked. She also sugges reading something inspiraitonal before you sleep or perhaps keepin a ‘blessing bok’ by your bed and writing down five things to be grafeful for before going to sleep. This trains our mind to focus on the positive aspects of your life.Before bedtime, try something relaxing like reading a book, or doing some meditation or gentle stretching.
  • Caffeine is stimulating and interferes with the hormones required to help produce sleep so keep your consumption of caffeinated drinks, including coffee, to a minimum and consume them before early in the day if possible.
  • Eating simple carbs in the evening can have a relaxing effect, but ideally you should stop eating three hours before bed because digestion requires a lot of energy. Nutritionist Susan Buxton suggests the following food can help you sleep: Turkey, Bananas, Passionflower and Chamomile tea, lettuce, oats, dark leafy greens. Regulating blood sugar throughout the day will help keep blood glucose levels balanced during sleep so you should eat small regular meals containing protein if you can.
  • Buy the best mattress, pillows and sheets that you can afford.
  • If you’re going through an emotional or stressful time, or you’re physically tense, consider relaxing your body with a massage.
  • Reduce your consumption of alcohol because it causes disruption of serotonin.
  • Your Mother’s advice to have a milky drink before bed is not an old wives’ tale. Milk produces melatonin, the “sleep hormone” which can help send you to sleep. 
  • If all else fails, then keep a diary of your daily habits and note what you do on the days you can or cannot get to sleep.

“You might find sleeping with the window open to let in fresh air helpful, no matter what the season. Avoid sugars (at all times) and other stimulants like coffee before sleeping because they make your nervous system jittery. Have a warm bath or shower before going to bed. This relaxes and soothes your body and distributes your blood to the peripheral capillaries.” Petrea King, Your Life Matters.

How to sleep well, Jo Castro

I try to walk in the open air every day and appreciate nature. This picture was taken near Nannup a small town in South West Australia. Don’t you love the yellow of the wattle trees?

How much sleep should I be getting?

At the library the other day I read in “” that 7 – 9 hours’ sleep is important. “The body’s anti-aging hormone is secreted during sleep and it stimulates tissue regeneration, muscle building, breakdown of fat stores and normalisation of blood sugar regulation.”

How to sleep well

I must admit to having had a really good night’s sleep at the Best Western Pemberton Hotel recently too. Comfy beds, darkened bedroom and a great place to wake up! Disclaimer: My night was sponsored – maybe that helped me sleep well 😉

Create A Sacred Space

Popular advice is that your bedroom should be a sacred space. A quiet place. Without a TV.

But I like Petrea King’s advice about creating a sacred space for yourself where you can spend some quiet time and perhaps de-clutter your mind before bedtime.

“It might be in a room or at a table or in a corner where you like to meditate, keep treasures from your walks, do your inspirational reading, and place fresh flowers, a peace candle, poetry, treasures from children in your life. Make it a place you return to in your spirit to refresh, uplift and inspire yourself.” Petrea King, Your Life Matters.

I hope you’ll find some tips today to help you through the times when you can’t sleep, but personally, I’d SO love to know what extra tips you have Lifestylers for getting to sleep and staying asleep.

Until then, remember …

How to sleep well, Jo Castro


Recent Posts
Showing 18 comments
  • Lee-Anne

    Excellent tips – found myself nodding vigorously as I read them! I’ve suffered from insomnia for decades and tried everything. You’re so right about exercise and the ‘down-time’ from technology – I have to put my phone in another room as I can still hear its groan on silent!

    That pic of the wattle-lined road is exquisite!

    • Johanna

      Hi Lee-Anne, thanks for your kind words. I’m glad that you were nodding 🙂 in agreement. Yes, the ‘groan’ of the phone is a terrible thing 😉

  • [email protected]

    Excellent post as usual Jo.
    I’ve on day 21 of my own Energy Adventure and day 9 of a mini new eating programme [kicked out sugar, gluten, eggs, corn, soya and dairy for 21 days]. Lost 9 pounds in 2 weeks and sleeping really well.
    I find I wake at the 4am witching hour and most times I just say ‘ah well – now go back to sleep’

    if the gerbils running in my brain persist in keeping me awake then I either write things down or imagine no words and blank walls and do some nice slow breathing to move my body and mind into a more relaxed space.

    Physical and mental activity work for me and walking Coco dog every day is my sanity break as well as a space for ideas to rise and rise above the day to day.

    And sometimes I just can’t sleep so I enjoy reading a relaxing book and not anything to do with work.
    I also love short naps now and again and I can usually sleep in if it’s been a short sleep night.

    • Johanna

      Thanks Liz for those extra tips and little moments of laughter I’ve had reading your comments – gerbils running around your brain indeed! I am seriously considering following your Energy Adventure – that sounds great 🙂

  • Irene S. Levine

    All great reminders for addressing what seems like one of the most common midlife maladies!

    • Johanna

      Thanks Irene – yes it seems that so many midlifers suffer from insomnia. I read yesterday that the statistic is something like 50% of people over 50.

  • Michelle

    I LOVE this blog! What happened to the days when I could sleep 12 hours if uninterrupted??? I definitely need to NOT drink any water after 7. That will be tough for me, but not getting enough sleep is harder now than it used to be. Thanks for the advice!

    • Johanna

      Thanks, Michelle! I know, just what happened to those days? Where did they go? The not drinking after 7 is working well for me 😉

  • Reply

    Why is it that when you get to a point in your life when you have the time to sleep, you can’t. I have found that Melatonin (OTC in the vitamin section) really helps. Also, this is a great way to shorten the jet lag, since this replaces the Melatonin our bodies depleted while traveling. Today we bought some cherries and they are another source of melatonin and I proved it by taking a nap after eating a few.

    • Johanna

      Ha Ha Neva, I’d love to see you falling asleep after a bowl of cherries! Thanks for the tip about melatonin from the vitamin section in the chemist, I am definitely going to try this for jet lag.

  • Life Images by Jill

    thanks Jo for these great sleep tips. I really need to try some of them out. But first I must go to bed. Which means turning off my computer right now! Thanks for another great post Jo. night night and sleep well.

    • Johanna

      Oh dear, N’Night Jill, hope I haven’t kept you up to late, and here’s hoping sleep came easily and stayed 😉

  • Carol Falcon

    This post hit home today as I had a grand total of 4 hours sleep last night, which is not untypical, but having moved house last week it is definitely an issue at the moment. I have tried all kinds of things and spoken to doctors about it but still my mind races at night. The most consistent message seems to be to get up after 20 minutes if you can’t fall back to sleep and do something quiet and dull in another room. However in real life I find that this disturbs my husband so the next day there are 2 grumps in the house instead of just one. The thing that can work well for me is meditation as all the niggles float through my mind and then float out again, somehow cleaning my mind of them. It is as if my brain has said ‘OK that was on my worry list but, tick, that worry has been probed so can come off the night time list now’. Of course when I am stressed I find I can’t meditate or can’t /won’t find the time to do it. HOWEVER, after reading this blog I am definitely going to find the time to try again today. I’ll let you know how it went!

    • Johanna

      Hi Carol, Oh I know what you mean about getting up and going out of the room and waking our other half. I also lie awake as still as a sigh and hope that sleep will fall upon me – but when I eventually decide to creep out everything seems to crash noisily, even my bones! I hope that you managed to meditate and get some sleep last night – I’ve heard to that meditation is great for exactly the reasons you state. (Hope the move went well, and you’re happy in your new abode).

  • Rae Hilhorst

    I’m glad it worked for you, I find when trying to fall sleep, that is when the ideas for blog posts attack me to. I can’t switch of and have tried all and sundry as you have written,and now accept it as part of my lot. I have to say though that I have tried yoga a few times and it drives me mad, I’m like would you just get on with it we haven’t got all night xxx

    • Johanna

      Oh Rae, I can just hear you thinking that! I don’t like the lying down and closing your eyes at the end of a yoga session – I think, well I’ve paid for this, so what good is it going to sleep? But I do think meditation helps before bedtime if you can do it. I know, at the end of the day perhaps blogging has a lot to answer for though!

  • Kathy Marris

    Great sleeping tips Jo. I am also a tragic sleeper as I tend to write my blogs or get ideas for blogs whilst I’m laying in bed trying to go to sleep. I find, like you, physical activity during the day is very helpful and no caffeine after lunch for me also helps. Otherwise if I could just get my brain to switch off! Meditation maybe?

    • Johanna

      Ha Kathy, I think that’s our biggest problem! Me too, I’m always thinking about blogging and wake in the night with a brilliant idea (I think!) which won’t go away!

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Start typing and press Enter to search

what does 200 calories look like