Sandman 101’s A Psychiatrist’s Top Tips for Better Sleep

Healthy Sleep Practices

Dr Kieran Kennedy

Sleep. It’s something we’re all familiar with. But depending on how much of it we’re getting, and whether we see the Sandman as more friend or foe, it can be something we might want to get know a bit better. Here we’ll tackle some doctor approved tips (that actually work) for improving your shut eye.

Before Bed:

Small and really realistic changes can make a big difference when it comes to sleep and this is the take away here - good sleep starts before we hit the pillow. Reducing caffeine (and to before lunch), having alcohol free days (even one glass fractures sleep quality afterwards) and getting some exercise in are all evidence backed to help improve our sleep that same night.


Creating sleep routines is essential, and always my step number one. The brain coordinates sleep off a rhythm, and the more it’s allowed to do this the more soundly you’ll sleep each night. Where possible, aim to go to bed and wake up within half an hour of the same time each day (even on the weekends!)

The Surrounds: 

Adjusting the environment to be more sleep friendly can make a huge difference to sleep quality. Dim the lights (or turn a few off) in the house the hour before bed, and make sure the temperature where you’ll sleep is on the cooler side (science actually says 20 degrees or less is best). Using phones and laptops is enemy number one when it comes to sleeping well too because the blue light for these guys really hits the “wake up” parts of our brain. To counter this it’s important to get proactive about turning devices off an hour or so before bed (or, at the very least, reduce the blue light ratio on your phone or laptop settings for the evening).

To stay or go?:

A common issue is what to do if we just can’t fall asleep.  Best advice here is often to get up briefly if we can’t sleep within 20-30 minutes. Anxiety about not being able to sleep often makes falling asleep even harder, so by getting up in a dimly lit room and doing something relaxing like reading or (better yet) a round of meditation we can break this cycle and make it easier.

The Take Home?

Sleep is a key part of our tool kit when it comes to better overall health, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. The benefits of a good night’s rest are ever clearer in modern medicine - and “prescribing” better sleep quality (even if it’s not more in quantity) is something doctors are really honing in on. The key here is knowing that better quality shut eye is well within your grasp, and starts well before bed. Take some simple steps, like those above, to help your brain sleep even before it hits the pillow - your body, and brain, will thank you for it.


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