Tips on how to get good quality sleep

The clocks go back at the weekend and experts say it will take many of us three days to adjust to the change in our normal sleeping patterns.

It's bad news for anyone who already struggles to get enough shut-eye. So here Dr Neil Stanley, who has been researching sleep for 28 years, gives his tips on getting a good quality kip.

1) Your bedroom should be a nest to encourage sleep. Block out excess light and noise, especially from gadgets like mobiles, which could disturb you unexpectedly. Make your bed as comfortable as possible - after all, you spend a third of your day in it.

2) You should be in a relaxed physical state for sleep. Eat big meals at least three hours before bed or your body will still be digesting it. But don't go to bed hungry, either - if you're peckish, eat something simple, like toast and butter. And don't exercise three hours before lights-out, or your body will still be buzzing from the natural high we get from vigorous activity.

3) You need to be mentally calm to sleep. If your mind's still ticking over, you won't nod off, so don't tackle a tricky Sudoku last thing at night.

4) Sleep's as important to our health as diet and exercise and you'll feel the instant benefits of a good night the next day. Go to bed early for a change.

5) Our sleeping patterns are as individual as our shapes and sizes. Anything between three and 11 hours sleep could be normal for you.

6) Research has shown that half of disturbed sleep is due to our partner tossing and turning. Consider having separate beds or even separate rooms.

7) Nocturnal leg cramps affect 13 million of us a year and are one of the five main factors that cause us to wake in the night. It happens when our muscles shorten in our sleep and when we stretch, we feel an instant, excruciating pain. Crampex, which you can buy over the counter, can be effective if cramps frequently bother you.

8) Most people accept tiredness as part of life, but we owe it to ourselves to try to get a good sleep every night. If you're having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, the real cause might be due to stress or a medical problem, Your best course of action is to talk to your GP about it.

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