Sleep Strategies

This section is to give you an outline of strategies you can implement to improve your sleep starting with the 5 most important strategies you can start today. These have proven to be the most effective in making a significant impact for the clients I have worked with. Lack of persistence to implement and maintain them was the thing that made them fail.  There are many factors that contribute to poor sleep. Genetics, lifestyle choices, careers, stress levels, grudges, general unhappiness or dissatisfaction with life, pain and the list goes on. All of these will influence the nature of our sleep resulting in a roll on effect on our quality of life and coping mechanisms. Good sleep is essential for not only our physical but psychological well being. You know yourself that if most aspects of your life are good, that you tend to have a good nights sleep so this is where these hints will assist greatly with just getting some structure.

If you are stressed or unhappy, even short term, this will have a significant impact on your quality of sleep. Stress and unhappiness are very significant  factors affecting our sleep so I have written a special blog addressing this issue

Hopefully, one or more of these suggestions will resonate and motivate you to introduce some of these approaches into your life. At the very least you may be able to relate to events that are occurring in your life and give you a better understanding on how they correlate with your level and quality of sleep.

Enjoy :

INVEST IN A GOOD MATTRESS AND PILLOW                                       

Great expense is placed on household items such as a new plush lounge so why would you not invest in an item where we spend nearly a third of our lives?  A good mattress and pillow is one area that should not be skimped on.   The choice in pillows alone these days offers nearly as much variety as types as types of cheeses so it is important to find the one best suited to your needs and comfort. Your height, weight, body structure and even age will dictate the style of  pillow and firmness of the mattress.

  • Change your mattress every 5 – 7 years on average
  • Rotate it at least every 6 months. If it already has a mattress topper attached then you may have to just rotate it. 
  • Speak to an expert in store to ensure you get the pillow and mattress best suited to yourself


WHY?  As humans, we love routines but setting to big a goal can also unravel very quickly. With the following strategies, you may find that implementing 1 -2 at a time will 


  • Be strict and commit to a good structured routine.  If you miss a day or even several, don’t give up. Just start again. The more you stick to the routine, the quicker the habit develops. As you develop you will find yourself looking forward to bed rather than dreading the night ahead. I have experienced this myself and admit I was pleasantly surprised. One day, week or month does not impact the rest of your life. Just get on with it.
  • Give sleep the level of importance it deserves. Pay attention to the benefits you start to feel when you are sticking to your routine. Things like increased daytime alertness, sharper thinking, better speech articulation and short term memory recall. Look forward to general improvement in motivation and energy levels.
  • Be organised and prioritise – Meals. exercise. Arrange “ME” time


This is “KEY” to your success and will set your body clock.

WHY? The circadian rhythm plays a crucial role in regulating your sleep-wake cycle. If you are inconsistent with your bedtime and rise time, this can significantly impact your natural rhythm further impacting deep level and REM sleep. This inconsistency can have both cognitive and physical implications. Deep level sleep is crucial to our immunity, memory, and physical restoration. REM sleep is vital to our cognitive and memory recovery. The body starts essential processes at specific periods throughout the day and night, so missing out on hours of sleep may lead to health issues.


  • Keep to the same bed time and rise time each day which will further enhance the benefits you feel. Refer to (Step 3) on this site.
  • Expose yourself to natural light first thing in the morning for at least 10 -15 minutes to help set the body clock. There are preferred hours for bedtime and rise times as well as the number of sleep hours each individual requires to receive optimal benefits. The number of sleep hours you need can be worked out easily. (Step1)
  • Weekend sleep in’s do not make up for lost sleep during the week

There IS such a thing as going to bed too early and retiring to late. This is a whole other subject in itself so I have posted a special blog article on this.

If you can’t initiate sleep, then acceptance is key. Get up out of bed and keeping lights very dim or try visualisation or meditation. Light reading from a book may also help to calm you down again. Pay attention to your thoughts before you got up as they may be contributing to your failure to initiate sleep. You need to drop your stress hormone to induce sleep easily.

Strategy – Download a lifestyle or sleep app with a smart alarm that reminds you to start preparing for bed. This will help you remain on track with your new routine. Just be disciplined. 


WHY?  Many make the mistake of either over sleeping or more commonly, under sleeping to our natural requirement. It is important to know how much sleep you need as you may not be getting enough or in some cases, too much.  (Step 1). Each person has individual sleep needs, so it is essential to work out how much sleep you need to awaken your best


  • Refer to this link for the method on how to work this out.
  • You may discover that you average 7 hours a night but actually may feel at your best with 9 hours or you may be oversleeping from habit but would actually function better with fewer hours of sleep. Remember 7-9 hours is recommended for adults

Once you work out your required hours of sleep, set your preferred rise time and count back to work out your bed time.For example, you need 8 hours and you want to rise by 7am. You need to be in bed, lights out, by 11pm


It is important to change out of your work clothes regardless of whether it is a uniform or just business clothes. The body recognises the signals to start relaxing. Even if you are pressed for time it creates a different mindset . 

WHY? Because it feels good. As soon as you arrive home, whether it be for work or just having been out socialising, change into comfy or floppy clothes. Some even get into their pyjamas as soon as they arrive home. This sends cues to the body to start destressing. The adrenalin and cortisol levels will start reducing resulting in a better internal and external feeling. 


WHY? Getting worries or thoughts out of your head and onto paper will improve your mindset before going to bed. Worrying robs us of much needed “down time” and many of the things we worry about either never get resolved in that moment or never eventuate. In particular, never have a financial discussion close to bed time. Set a time earlier in the night for this.

Many will argue that thinking through things or rehearsing a conversation helps to resolve the issue but if it is the same conversation going round and round in your head then shut it down. Focus on reducing your “inner” stress as these thoughts are the exact thing that will raise your stress levels preventing you from sleeping well. Be happy with your preparation and let it go. Unfortunately as humans, at some level, some actally like this exercise of going over and over things in their head and then wonder why they toss and turn in bed. You must drop your cortisol levels and body temperature to induce good sleep. 


  • Set the same time each night to do this and do it in the same spot each time. Record it like a journal if this helps.
  • If it is a worry list  then to help you release it ask yourself is it is useFUL or useLESS worrying about it?  Can anything be changed in that moment? Work out a score out of 1-5. 1 being solvable and 5 being futile worrying. Make a rule that anything greater than a 3 is unsolvable at that time and surrender it.

Once this habit is formed, the mind will automatically download your to do list each night. The mind will learn to switch off from futile thoughts. Once it is out of your head, then the mind and body will relax. 


WHY? As humans we are excellent at procrastination. When we sit down to watch TV or read a book, we are less likely to stop what  we are doing and get organised for bed. We procrastinate and before we know it we realise our designated bedtime passed an hour ago. Failed again. It wil also give your  body cues to commence the natural internal processes quicker and easier.


  • Get in Pyjamas, have a shower and even clean your teeth if you do not intend to have anything else to eat or drink BEFORE you sit down to relax.
  • Turn down your bed in preparation and remove excess pillows or cushions.
  • Set an alert on your phone about an hour before bed so you know when it is time to get into bed. It is very easy to lose track of time.


WHY? Scheduling sleep will make a significant difference to falling asleep once the routine is set.  Once again, the body recognizes cues, and if you remain “wired,” it prevents the natural release of hormones that will keep the body temperature and cortisol levels high dramatically impacting the ability to fall asleep.


  • Commit to a wind-down routine. 10 – 20 minutes.
  • Permit yourself for personal time. Don’t feel the need to justify that time.
  • Do a Visualisation/meditation/ mindfulness exercise – Examine your state of mind at that moment. If negative or agitated, then change it.
  • Notice internal emotions that you are creating from your thoughts
  • Light yoga and stretching
  • Gratitude list or journal. Many people start but don’t persist with this. A good suggestion is to acknowledge your gratefulness in your mind.

Strategy: Don’t overcomplicate meditation. It is a simple breathing exercise. Start with inhaling to the count of 4 and exhaling for the count of 6. If you find the mind wandering, and it will, then bring yourself back to the breath.   

With Visualisation, Let your imagination out to play. Teach yourself to shut down and set a rule for yourself. A trick I used was to place myself somewhere I wanted to visit.  I found pictures of this place and focused on the small details. I put myself in that picture and imagined myself taking in the “feel” of the situation. Use all your sensors to evoke the feelings of relaxation. After a time, my body recognized these cues, and I found it not only much more natural to switch off and initiate sleep, but the quality of my sleep improved. I have written a blog post on this to help you.

General Hints

Tracking your Tiredness / Alertness

WHY?  The circadian rhythm is also known as our sleep/wake cycle and peaks and troughs throughout the day. This cycle is regular and affects the individual according to their natural rhythm, including when they eat and wake for the day. Average times in the day are between 2-4pm and again between 7 – 8.30 pm. If you are sedentary during these periods, you will feel sleepy, and unless you get up and do something, you will fall asleep. If you are active during these periods you will not experience the sleepiness as both your cortisol and body temperature will be elevated.

HOW? Pay attention to your periods of sleepiness/alertness during the day. Is there a pattern? Is there a time at night where you go to sleep more natural than if you delay the time?  Do you find if you go to bed early, that you wake a couple of hours later and struggle to get back to sleep? If this is problematic, then change your day around to ensure you are active in those periods. For example, do paperwork and computer work in the morning and productive work in the afternoon.

Refer to Sleep Physiology / cycle of alertness to refresh on this 


WHY? Caffeine or similar drinks can impact our ability to initiate sleep and/or maintain sleep. Caffeine blocks a natural chemical we release that promotes the sleepiness levels required to go to sleep. Others may fall asleep well but suffer disrupted sleep later in the night finding difficulty going back to sleep or staying asleep. Caffeine can be released 6-8 hours after being ingested and unfortunately due to this delay it is natural not to associate with the food or drink we may have had earlier in the night. Try avoiding caffienated drinks for at least a week to compare the outcomes. It may surprise you. 

  • Avoid coffee, tea, and cola drinks in the afternoon and evening. Find your own gauge as to how late in the day caffeine affects your ability to sleep. Do you wake during the night and struggle to get back to sleep routinely? Trying skipping the evening coffee or cola to see if it makes a difference?
  • Try and acclimatize yourself to herbal teas although if you have a weak bladder then liquids are best avoided.


WHY? Alcohol is a well-known disruptor of sleep. It may help initially and deliver a deeper sleep in the early part of the night but greatly affects the quality and quantity of our sleep in the later periods of the night.  Alcohol disrupts the circadian rhythm (body clock) and reduces the amount of REM sleep so it will lead to restlessness and wakefulness. Most alcoholics will go to bed early and rise in the earlier part of the morning. Even if they go back to sleep, they will struggle to attain REM sleep.  The body also metabolises alcohol differently and at different times of the day but not normally during the night. 

  • An alcoholic drink should be restricted to 1 glass daily as per the guidelines for females. 
  • 2 alcoholic glasses daily is recommended for men
  • Eat before you drink to limit alcohol absorbtion
  • Try low alcohol or organic alternatives
  • Try a sparkling water or apple juice in a wine glass. You never know it may be more about the act rather than the actual drink. 


WHY? There is much debate as to whether it is best to avoid eating to close to bedtime. Some experts report an increased likely hood of putting on weight due to a slower metabolism and the affect on insulin levels leading to fat storage. Other experts argue this is not the case. Regardless most of us know the discomfort we feel sleeping on a full stomach and logically if we eat a large meal close to bed then we have just introduced another process for our bodies to deal with that should have been dealt with hours earlier. On the other hand, sometimes it is unavoidable to eat late. Sports practice, working back or other family commitments can make us late getting home at night so by the same token, you should not go to bed hungry. 


  • Eat the evening meal at least 3 hours before bedtime if at all possible. If life gets in the way and time gets away then choose light meals such as an light omelet or soup. Eat only as much to stave off the hunger rather than have a full tummy. Halve the portion size. If you would normally eat 6 slices of pizza, make it 4. Take the edge off the hunger but dont be full. 
  • Going to bed on a full stomach could lead to gastric reflux causing wakefulness due to discomfort
  • Don’t go to bed really hungry though. Hunger may disturb sleep so a light snack especially warm milk or herbal tea may help you settle to sleep. Warm milk has been linked to melatonin production
  • If you wake during the night and struggle to get back to sleep, do not eat or have a cup of tea. You are giving the body permission to be awake at that time which in turn maligns your body clock.


WHY? No need to lecture here. 

  • Smoking interupts the circadian rhythm
  • Nicotine addiction will cause cravings during the night once the nicotine levels reduce in the body. 
  • Nicotine withdrawal will disrupt sleep causing multiple wake ups 
  • Smokers have a higher incidence of insomnia
  • Smoking should be avoided at least 2 hours prior to sleep


WHY? Our Circadian rhythm is set by light and darkness. Once the sun starts to set, the body commences the process to prepare us for bed. Low level lighting assists greatly with this process. Leaving bright lights especially fluoro lights on will suppress the release of our sleep hormone, Melatonin. Low lighting has a secondary effect on our mood further assisting with relaxation 


  • Set the mood by turning off overhead lights and introduce lamps or dimmers as the sun goes down. Invest in soft white or sleep enhancing bulbs.
  • Shut down electronics such as computers & T.V at least an hour prior to bed
  • Remove the TV from the bedroom. The bed is only for sleep and sex.
  • Reading should be done outside of the bedroom if you find it difficult to sleep. If reading a page or 2 helps you initiate sleep, then just do it
  • Have Red LED night lights in hallways and bathrooms to avoid bright lighting disrupting our circadian clock

Comfortable bedroom environment

WHY? Set your bedroom up as a Sanctuary so you look forward to going to being in that space. Make it relaxing and enjoyable to create a “feel good” ambience. The physiology needs to be changed to give the body the chance to go induce sleep. At least, if you struggle to sleep, it is a nice environment to be in.

  • Set your bedroom up as a Sanctuary. How do you feel when you walk in?
  • Ensure your bed is comfortable and supportive. Mattress topper may help
  • Ensure linen and pillows are fresh, non-crumpled and supportive
  • Change the quilt covers to suit the season. Overheating or being too cold will affect your ability to stay asleep
  • Sleep in a cool room.
  • Invest in dark drapes to remove artificial light if morning light wakes you
  • Eliminate external noises especially if you live in a noisy household.
  • Use fragrances to invoke “feel good” feelings and relax you
  • Download sleep music apps on phone
  • Don’t clock watch. Trust your body clock. Set your body clock during holiday breaks so that you don’t get stressed you will sleep in.

Strategy – Remove alarm clocks or phones. Place it under the bed or on the other side of the room if you need an alarm

Warm Bath or foot soak  

WHY? Warm baths notoriously relax us. This will help with reducing the core body temperature when you get out of the bath.  


  • Use essential oils such as lavender or vanilla
  • Relaxes all your muscles
  • Relaxes the mind
  • Helps to drop the core body temperature

Read a book

WHY? Reading for some is like sedation. The body recognises the cue that as soon as they read one or two pages, they are struggling to stay awake. The style of book is important if you have difficulty getting to sleep.  You want a book that does not excite but promotes easy reading. A book that can take you away from the reality of life. Similar to a feel good movie or easy listening music.  


  • Do not read in bed if you struggle to get to sleep as this will give you a negative association with your bed
  • Do not use kindles or electronic devices. Download audible books
  • If you find you are reading the same passage multiple times then it is time to put down the book. Stop procrastinating


WHY? Visualisation is a very good strategy to train yourself for those difficult times either falling asleep or maintaining sleep. Whether you have problems initiating sleep or getting back to sleep during the night, it is worthwhile to practice visualisation. Your inner body learns to recognise the cues to change the physiology required to get back to sleep. Once you become practiced at visualisation, you will not only drift off to sleep a lot easier but find you will be able to maintain your sleep for longer periods.  I taught myself this when I was an insomniac. I have beaten insomnia years ago but I find during stressful periods in my life that I can revert to it easily and recreate the physiology to help me.

This takes practice to do so be patient with yourself. It is worth it


Find a “feel good” picture and immerse yourself within the picture. Use all of your senses: see, feel, hear, taste, smell. 

  • Feel the coolness, crispness or wamth in the air
  • Hear the wind / breeze through the trees
  • Hear the river and wildlife or if at the beach, the sound of the waves
  • Smell the fragrances in the picture.  coffee, flowers, meals, fireplace
  • Feel the cool water on your hands and feet
  • Imagine the freedom and feeling this invokes.

Refer to our You tube site for visualisation videos you can use using these sensory strategies

Structure in “Me” time

  • Give yourself some time out sessions in your day. Acceptance of circumstances is key for everything in life. Accept where you are and place your life in chapters. If you have a hectic life that doesn’t allow you much “Me” time, then prioritise you and schedule it into your day. Just like scheduling an appointment.
  • If you have a list of chores, keep the list realistic and break it down in priorities. Choose 3 priority tasks and then rule a line on the page. Make the next group priority 2 but set the mindset that it is no big deal if you don’t get them done. The third group is the “If you have the time or feel like it” group.
  • Make sure that at least one of the first 3 priority chores is a task that you enjoy and make that the 2nd job. The feeling of accomplishment if you get group 2 done or even start the third group has a much greater impact on your psyche compared to just writing a list and not seeing those magic ticks on the page at the end
  • Or the other scenario, If you have too much “Me” time then find an interest that gives you a reason to get up in the morning. It is important to find a purpose for yourself to give you the benefit of self worth.

Raise the bed head 10-12cm

Set a Morning routine

  • Go outside for 10-15  minutes when rising regardless of weather. Natural light set the body clock
  • Start exercise and / or meditation regime

EVERYDAY IS A RESET. Introduce changes and give yourself something to look forward to.

  1. Discipline & Commitment for the long term. Help yourself and do the work.
  1. Don’t compensate for sleep loss. If you have to stay up late, still rise at the same time each morning.
  2. Arrange to do something special for yourself at least every three months. Take yourself out of your reality even just for a short period or just a break from your routine.

Simple suggestions are:   

  • Organise a massage and movie with partner or friends. Café dinner afterwards
  • Date night with your partner. Many restaurants offer a special deal night so do your homework
  • Organise a day out. Go for a long drive and check out some of the local tourist spots. National parks and wineries can be a great day out.
  • Join travel groups on the internet such as, Jetstar Friday frenzy or Trivalgo. Get special deals emailed and set a date.
  • If expense makes it difficult, then just “pretend”. Clean the house on the Friday, change the bed sheets, light candles, get take away and pretend you are on a weekend getaway. Don’t do anything related to regular chores
  • Check out your local council or community websites. There are many activities on offer and many of them free. (Check out the resources page for links ). Give yoga or meditation a try. There are many free sessions available. Expos usually offer these such as the national expo, “mind, body and soul”
  • Make a date with friends. If it is in the evening and warm enough, set up a table outside with candles and/or solar lights. Set a mood so you won’t want the evening to end. Solar lights are very inexpensive from the bargain shops and have some cute designs.

(Special note: Everdream: Music by HD Soundy


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